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28 March 2008

Today, under the pretext of carrying out 'essential repairs' contractors AB Demolition demolished substantial sections of Derby Hippodrome. Fears were raised by The Theatres Trust two days ago that the presence of a demolition crew would only lead to further damage. Structural metal beams supporting the roof were removed and destabilised the whole building. The Hippodrome’s side walls have been pulled down and the theatre's stage house and flytower have been lost.

Following repeated assurances from Derby City Council that only essential repairs would be undertaken, works to the roof of this grade II listed building began without proper Council approval. Council staff and building inspectors were not present until this afternoon when many calls were made by concerned locals to The Theatres Trust and Derby City Council. Once on site they established that the contractors were using incorrect machinery to carry out repairs.

In consequence an unnecessary amount of demolition and loss of historic fabric has taken place, leaving virtually all but the front section of the building remaining intact. The undertaking of 'essential repairs' has caused extensive damage and may well have secured its final destruction.

As previously stated by the Trust, failure to obtain consent for works or demolition of a listed building is a criminal offence. Derby City Council can now take action against the owner including the serving of an enforcement notice to rebuild the theatre. Director of the Trust, Mhora Samuel said “The owners have adopted completely the wrong approach to repair Derby Hippodrome. This destruction demonstrates the vulnerability of historic theatres and buildings when owners breach listed building legislation.”

The Trust again urges local residents' to remain vigilant and report any further activity they see on the site over the weekend to the Police on 0845 123 3333

Derby City Council Emergency 24 hour line Dangerous Structures on 01332 255 903
and to The Theatres Trust on 07932 653 560.

For further details contact:

Suzanne McDougall, The Theatres Trust on 020 7836 8591

Notes to Editors

1. The Theatres Trust

The Theatres Trust is the National Advisory Public Body for Theatres. The Trust aims to protect theatres on behalf of the nation. It advises in planning, regeneration and development, architecture and design, heritage, and theatre. It enables better planning to secure, improve and achieve sustainability for new and existing theatre buildings and to protect theatre use. Our aim is to ensure that current and future generations have access to good quality theatres that reflect our rich cultural heritage and offer inspiring new environments in which to enjoy theatre.

2. Derby Hippodrome

Original theatre architect (s): 1914: Marshall & Tweedy

Description: Derby Hippodrome was built in 1914. It is a large variety theatre originally seating around 1800, today it would seat around 1000. It has two slightly-curved balconies, a rectangular proscenium surmounted by a big segment-headed panel framing a garland, a flat ceiling with concentric circular moulded panels in a rectangular frame. Until recently it had rich Baroque plasterwork on balcony fronts, the proscenium, and to the ceiling. It has large ancillary and foyer areas. Externally the building is constructed of red brick with terracotta dressings. It has a corner entrance and slated hipped roofs.
Theatre Use: The Hippodrome was last used as a live theatre in 1939. It was then used as a cinema until the 1959 when it was converted to a bingo hall, although live theatre was continued in the form of pantomimes each year. In January 2007 the bingo operation closed and the building was sold to a property developer.

3. Images of the demolition can be viewed online.

The Theatres Trust
22 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0QL
t: 020 7836 8591 f: 020 7836 3302

The Theatres Trust
Protecting Theatres for Everyone
National Advisory Public Body for Theatres

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