The Royal Hippodrome Theatre, West Derby Road, Liverpool
Formerly - Hengler's Grand Cirque
Above - The Liverpool Hippodrome in August 1970 whilst closed and awaiting eventual demolition - Courtesy K.R.
The Royal Hippodrome, in West Derby Road, Liverpool opened on the 4th of August 1902 and was one of 14 Hippodromes built for Thomas Barrasford over a period of only 4 years. The Theatre was constructed within the walls of J. T. Robinson's former Hengler's Grand Cirque which had opened in 1876 and closed on the 9th of February 1901.
Right - A Variety Programme for the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Liverpool for the week beginning Monday the 8th of April 1928 - Click to see entire Programme.
Hengler's Grand Cirque was one of a chain of Circus buildings run by Charles Hengler, who had worked in the Circus all his life. One of his most famous buildings being Hengler's Grand Cirque in London which opened in 1871, the London Palladium now stand on the site. Charles Hengler died in 1887, and even though his sons continued with the enterprise, Circus by then was already on its way out.
Above - A Sketch of Hengler's Grand Cirque, Liverpool - Courtesy Alfred Mason
After Hengler's Cirque closed in February 1901 the site remained unoccupied for some months until Thomas Barrasford acquired the building and, with his architect Bertie Crewe, set about converting it into a Variety Theatre.
Above - A period Postcard showing the Hippodrome Theatre, Liverpool in its early years.
The building was completely gutted leaving only the exterior walls standing and within six months the new Theatre had been constructed within them. The new Theatre had an auditorium said to have been able to accommodate 3,500 people seated or 4,000 with standing, and was one of the largest in the Provinces.
Right - A Programme for 'Two Many Girls' at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Liverpool in 1919. Click to see entire Programme.
The Hippodrome opened on the 4th of August 1902 with a twice nightly variety show beginning at 7pm and then 9pm and was very well attended. And so it continued for many years under several owners, but on the 20th of June 1931 it closed as a variety Theatre for the last time and went over to full time Cinema use under its then owners, Gaumont British Cinemas. The conversion to Cinema use took only a month and the Theatre reopened on the 20th of July 1931 with the film 'Dracular.'
The Hippodrome then continued as a Cinema for nearly 40 years but was closed for good on the 16th of May 1970 by its then owners the Rank Organisation. The building then stood empty for many years until it was eventually demolished in 1984.
Also see Britain's Hippodrome Theatres on this site here...
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