When you think of the famous buildings of Brighton, you may think of the Duke of York’s Picturehouse, being Britain’s oldest cinema, or the stunning Royal Pavilion, but less will know the illustrious Hippodrome.
Sadly, this building has been shut for years, however there now appears to be some work being completed to renovate the building. But what is happening, will this change the structure of the building and when can we expect it to be complete? I’ll try to answer all these questions below.
What Was The Hippodrome?
The Brighton Hippodrome was a theatre and music venue that hosted such big names as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Erected in 1897, the Grade II listed building was originally built as an ice-skating rink, however it was expanded in 1901 and became a circus. In fact, it has a truly bizarre history, also becoming a Bingo hall in 1967.
How Long Has The Hippodrome Been Closed?
The Mecca Bingo Hall finally closed in August 2006 and despite numerous plans in place and changes of lease, it still remains closed.
A campaign to save the building and ensure it remained a theatre begun in 2013 and gathered 1,099 signatures and a huge number of high profile supporters. A follow-up petition was then posted on social media and ended up gaining 20,500 signatures, leading to the growth of the Brighton Hippodrome CIC.
What Are The New Plans For The Hippodrome?
The Matsim Properties group bought the Hippodrome building in September 2020, while work was needed urgently to prevent further deterioration of the building.
The plan is to once again return entertainment and live performances to the building, with the surrounding units offering food and drink.
The upper floors of the former theatre would be converted into a hotel, so would the Ship Street car park. The unbelievably beautiful Fly Tower, which seriously looks stunning, would become office space.
When Will The Building Open?
From what I’ve read, it sounds like the supposed opening date would either be the end of 2023 or the start of 2024. As with all building work, this may be delayed slightly, but I’m eagerly waiting to see if it will be going ahead and I will certainly go along as soon as possible once it opens.
According to an interview with the Argus, Matsim Properties had already invested more than £1 million into redevelopment work on the building, while they planned on spending a further £10 million, highlighting the scale of the operation. At those costs, it is unsurprising it has sat there dormant for so long.
What Work Needs To Be Done?
With the building being left abandoned for 15 years, virtually everything needs to be redeveloped, with quotes from 2020 stating that it would cost around £1 million just to slow down the deterioration of the building.
Some early shots featured in the Argus have highlighted the new roof from above, which highlights the fact that the project has taken a huge step forward.
It was pivotal to get the roof sorted before the Winter we’ve just been through, having been completed by October 2021.
From what I’ve read, the focus is now on clearing the dry rot, an overhaul of the beautiful ceiling and recovering the rest of the roof.
So how do you feel about the work being complete? Are you excited to see it open, or are you nervous about what the end result might be? Let me know in the comments below.