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The Tameside Hippodrome, Oldham Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester

Also known variously as the Ashton Empire Hippodrome / New Empire Cinema / ABC

Manchester Theatres Index

A Google Streetview image of the Tameside Hippodrome, Manchester - Click to Interact

Above - A Google Streetview image of the Tameside Hippodrome, Manchester - Click to Interact

Advertising Leaflet for an 'All Star Matinee' at the Ashton Empire Hippodrome in 1920 - Courtesy Richard Fair.The Tameside Hippodrome in Oldham Road, Ashton-under-Lyne originally opened as the Ashton Empire Hippodrome Theatre on the 21st of November 1904 and was built by J. J. Alley with a facade of red brick and an auditorium of three levels and boxes.

In 1932 the Theatre was closed and altered for Cinema use and reopened on the 22nd of August the same year with the film 'Carnival Boat’ starring Bill Boyd.

In 1933 the Theatre again closed but this time it was to be entirely reconstructed as a Cinema and renamed the New Empire. The auditorium was radically altered by removal of the Gallery and boxes and was replaced with one single large balcony which could seat 600 people. The decor was remodeled in the Art Deco style and a new Cinema Organ was installed. The backstage area and the stage itself were retained however. The New Empire Cinema reopened for business on the 4th of November 1933.

Right - Advertising Leaflet for an 'All Star Matinee' at the Ashton Empire Hippodrome in 1920 - Courtesy Richard Fair.

In 1964 the Theatre was bought by the EMI group and renamed the ABC. This name was to continue until 1974 when it was closed and an application to convert it for Bingo was submitted. This however was refused by the local Council due to local pressure to retain it for live use and the fact that two local Operatic Societies still used the Theatre. Instead the Council took a 21 year lease on the building, removed the organ, refurbished the Theatre, and reopened it as a live venue with a capacity of 1,262 in 1976.

In 1983 the Council bought the Theatre from EMI but in 1992 they appointed Apollo Leisure to run it, and it was at this time that the Theatre was renamed the Tameside Hippodrome. Later the Theatre was run by Live Nation but the local Council did not renew their contract and the Theatre closed in 2008. Since then the building has been vacant and it's future looks bleak.

An article carried by the Tameside Advertiser in 2008 reported on the closure of the Hippodrome and the breaking up of it's loyal staff, which you can read here.

In 2010 Tameside Council had still not made a decision about the Theatre and it still stood empty and boarded up.

The Stage of the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.In May 2012 I was contacted by Keith Dalby, the Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust, who told me they are currently in detailed discussions with Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council to acquire, refurbish and reopen the Tameside Hippodrome.

Right - The Stage of the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.

Plans are said to be well advanced and they are working alongside the Council towards reopening the Theatre in 2013 as a full receiving Theatre again. Their proposals are supported by English Heritage, the Theatres Trust, the Arts Council and others. Bill Kenwright Ltd have confirmed their practical support in terms of being able to bring all their shows for the next two years.

The auditorium of the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.

Above - The auditorium of the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.

The auditorium of the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.

Above - The auditorium of the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.

The Fly Rail at the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.

Above - The Fly Rail at the Tameside Hippodrome - Courtesy Keith Dalby-Oldham, Chair of the Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust.

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