Hulme Hippodrome

The substantial building on the corner of Chichester Road and Warwick Street, Hulme, contains not just one theatre, but two, standing side-by-side!

The Grand Junction Theatre and Floral Hall opened in 1901, with a capacity of 3000, while the smaller Hippodrome Theatre (The NIA Centre) was completed the following year and could seat 1500. An arcade originally ran between the two structures, which is now closed off.

In 1905, the two theatres swapped names, adding greatly to the likelihood that they would be confused over time!

My pictures show the interior of the older, larger theatre, now generally called Hulme Hippodrome, which is further away from Chichester Road. Renamed the Second Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1942, it was subsequently converted for use as a bingo hall and casino in the early ’60s.

My friends played bingo here around 1989/90. If I’d known how impressive the building was inside, I would have joined them!

Hulme Hippodrome’s current owners are Gilbert Deya Ministries who use a space adjacent to the theatre auditorium for church services.

Very sadly, the interior of the main theatre is in a state of chronic disrepair, due to lead tiles having been stolen from the roof. Daylight is visible backstage and the paintwork is peeling dramatically due to the damp. I have been told that the council and the universities are keen to save the theatre building but are unwilling to enter any partnership with the owners, following accusations of child trafficking.

Undeterred, Tony Wright of The Youth Village is trying to organise a rescue package for the theatre, with the help of The Theatres Trust. For more information see menmedia.co.uk.

Meanwhile, the smaller theatre closest to Chichester Road, known locally as The NIA Centre, is owned by Northern Group, a Manchester-based property investment and development company.

Over the years it has been used as a cinema (Junction Picture House 1929-1951), a BBC studio (BBC Playhouse 1956-1987), and a cultural centre (NIA Centre 1991-2000); the building has remained vacant since 2000.

Both theatres were designed by the same architect, J. J. Alley for ‘The Broadhead Circuit’, which was a music hall circuit of ‘No. 2′ theatres (smaller or provincial theatres) all over the North West of England, managed from offices in Hulme:

From www.laughingaudience.co.uk/

Both theatres are currently Grade II listed; it is possible that one or both may be upgraded to Grade II* in the future. The * can improve funding opportunities but can also impose restrictions upon development possibilities.

For more history see www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and www.theatrestrust.org.uk.

For more pictures of the interior of Hulme Hippodrome see www.28dayslater.co.uk or search on Flickr.

Contact Tony Wright at The Youth Village on 0794 342 4981.

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9 Comments

  1. Hiya. I’m a big fan of the site. Thanks for documenting the Nile Rodgers weekend so well. Both nights blew me away! I’m just wondering if it would be at all possible for me to upload the fourth picture of the Hippodrome (‘Pillars’) to Manchester District Music Archive. I love these pictures and think they tell a fascinating, if melancholy, story. I’m currently building an online exhibition on Hulme/Moss Side club and music culture. It would be great to feature one of these photos, fully linked up and credited. I think it would help drive a few of our users to this blog too. Thanks, Abigail

    • Please make naotcct with us. Our naotcct information is below.RegardsMothers Against Violence (MAV)53 Old Birley StreetHulmeManchesterM15 5RF Charity No. 1135348Trade Mark No. 6803Office: 0161 226 8134Mobile: 07985490333

  2. Hi Abigail – sorry it took me a few days to reply – of course, it’s fine for you to use the photos – thanks for your encouragement! Best wishes, Urs

  3. I hope this building gets back to its perfect best, its steeped in history and a form of investment would bring it back to life!

  4. Hi I have been trying to find out the actual history of the Junction pub. I know it was there as a hotel for the theatre but wanted to know if it had injured soldiers there after the war? I know this is a strange question had a very vivid dream about the building and I have never been in it. Thanks Ruth Stott

    • Thanks Ruth – I don’t know but it would be very interesting to find out. I love vivid dreams and have similar bizarre queries about other places. How come you’ve never been in there? Urs

  5. Hi

    Could someone advise who I contact by e-mail / phone the owner of this place as I would love to come and do some photographs.

    Thanks

    Mel

    • Hi Mel,

      Have a look for the Friends of Hulme Hippodrome page on Facbook, the contact details are on there and the group is trying to save the building, I’m sure they would be pleased to hear from you.

      L

  6. vincent mcc

    I’ve got a trillion dollars don’t worry moss side Hulme love me better or for the worse theme track I’m a legions mines 1.500 million dollars ok respect just wait Reno Nile club scean vita

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