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Golders Green Hippodrome, North End Road, Barnet, London

The Golder's Green Hippodrome during the run of 'Can-Can' at the Theatre on the 29th of October 1956 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

Above - The Golder's Green Hippodrome during the run of 'Can-Can' at the Theatre on the 29th of October 1956 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

 

Programme for 'Variation on a Theme' by Terence Rattigan with Margaret Leighton and directed by John Gielgud at the Golders Green Hippodrome.The Golders Green Hippodrome was built by the respected Theatre Architect Bertie Crewe for the Golders Green Amusement and Development Co, run by Walter Gibbons, in 1913 with a capacity of around 1,500. Its situation next to Golders Green Underground station made it easily accessible to Londoners and it was soon a regular venue for pre and post London tours and became famous for its annual Pantomimes.

Right - A programme for 'Variation on a Theme' by Terence Rattigan with Margaret Leighton and directed by John Gielgud at the Golders Green Hippodrome.

The Theatre's original designs made little provision for Front of House facilities and there were no bars at all. Later designs did incorporate bars but even so FOH areas were very cramped for such a large Theatre and there was no room to extend these once the Theatre was built.

'Hipodrome Adieu' the programme for the last night at the Golders Green Hippodrome on the 18th of February, 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.The last performance at the Golders Green Hippodrome as a live Theatre was on the 18th of February 1968 and included the following stars of the day: Avril Angers; David and Jonathon; Simon Dupree & the big sound; Ray Fell; Bud Flanagan; Alan Freeman; David Jacobs; David Kossoff; Vera Lynn; Norrie Paramor; Ralph Reader & the Gang Show; Joan Regan; Julie Rogers, Danny la Rue; Don Smoothy, Status Quo and Jimmy Wheeler. The finale was broadcast live on the Light Programme with David Jacobs and Vera Lynn. At the end of the show the House Curtain was never dropped and all the artistes just casually left the stage, then the lights were dimmed. Apparently a very nostalgic evening which incidentally ended later than a Ken Dodd show!

Left - 'Hipodrome Adieu' the programme for the last night at the Golders Green Hippodrome on the 18th of February, 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.

After the Theatre closed it was then converted for use as a TV studio and later to a Radio Studio and Concert Hall by the BBC. It's seating capacity was reduced at this time to a more modest 700.

The alterations did obscure parts of the auditorium but not irreversibly so. The stalls floor was leveled for orchestral use but the original rake was preserved below it, and the rear of the stalls was converted for Control rooms.

The audience were now accommodated in part of the orchestra floor and the first balcony. The second balcony was unused and hidden but apparently still retains its original seats. The upper section of the fly tower and wings of the stage were converted to a rehearsal room, band room, offices and plant.

The Golders Green Hippodrome from an early postcard.

Above - The Golders Green Hippodrome from an early postcard.

In 2003 the BBC announced that they were to leave the Hippodrome and the Theatre was put up for sale. Subsequent site visits in 2004 by the Save London's Theatres Campaign found the Theatre to be in 'generally quite good condition' despite the fact that there had been some damage to the plasterwork in the auditorium and an earlier collapse of part of the ceiling had been repaired by the BBC at considerable cost.

In 2007, despite being Grade II Listed, the Theatre's status hung in the balance, and it was put on English Heritage's buildings at risk register. Eventually the El Shaddai International Christian Centre bought the Theatre for an estimated £5million and the building has been used by the group ever since.

 

The auditorium of the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken from the stage in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther who worked as an electrician the Theatre from 1960 until it closed in February 1968.

Above - The auditorium of the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken from the stage in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther who worked as an electrician the Theatre from 1960 until it closed in February 1968.

The stage of the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken from the front of the circle in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther who worked as an electrician the Theatre from 1960 until it closed in February 1968.

Above - The stage of the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken from the front of the circle in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther who worked as an electrician the Theatre from 1960 until it closed in February 1968.

 

The 64 way Grand Master at the Golders Green Hippodrome in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.The Golders Green Hippodrome was equipped with a 64 way Grand Master lighting switch board, operated for a time by Mike Luther, who was a Dayman electrician at the Theatre from 1960 until it closed in 1968. Mike has sent in some photos of the Theatre which are shown on this page, and the Grand Master, shown here and below, which were taken in 1968 shortly before the Theatre closed.

Right - The 64 way Grand Master at the Golders Green Hippodrome in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.

Mike Luther beside the Grand Master at the Golders Green Hippodrome in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.Mike writes: 'I was a dayman at the Hippodrome for about 8 years, I was lucky enough to be taken straight on as Stage Manager for Delfont pantomimes 1968 Manchester Palace, 1969 Bristol Hippodrome and 1970 Sunderland Empire, all massive houses. Its nice to look back through your site and see the 'insides' again.

Left - Mike Luther beside the Grand Master at the Golders Green Hippodrome in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.

My Summer seasons those years were all at Scarborough Floral Hall for Richard Stone as Company/Stage Director with massive names. I also did 3 years resident SM for all Butlin's stages based at Bognor. I had a good 4 years after the Hippodrome closed but I will always remeber my initial time there. - Mike Luther.

The Grand Master lighting control at the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken from the stage in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.

Above - The Grand Master lighting control at the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken from the stage in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.

The Prompt Corner at the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.

Above - The Prompt Corner at the Golders Green Hippodrome in a photograph taken in 1968 - Courtesy Mike Luther.

 

Bertie Crew's original design drawings for the Golders Green Hippodrome

Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of the West Elevation of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Above - Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of the West Elevation of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of the South Elevation of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Above - Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of the South Elevation of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of a section through the centre line of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Above - Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of a section through the centre line of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

 

Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of a section through the Foyers of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Above - Bertie Crewe's original design drawing of a section through the Foyers of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

 

Bertie Crewe's original Stalls Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome. Bertie Crewe's original Circle Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Above Left - Bertie Crewe's original Stalls Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome.
Above Right - Bertie Crewe's original Circle Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Bertie Crewe's original Front Circle Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome. Bertie Crewe's original Gallery Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Above Left - Bertie Crewe's original Front Circle Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome.
Above Right - Bertie Crewe's original Gallery Plan of the Golders Green Hippodrome.

Bertie Crewe's Original Design Drawings shown on this page are Courtesy Jean Holden of Michael Holden Associates and kindly loaned to this site by the Save London's Theatres Campaign.

 

Margaret Leighton at the Golders Green Hippodrome

Programme for 'Variation on a Theme' by Terence Rattigan with Margaret Leighton and directed by John Gielgud at the Golders Green Hippodrome.Margaret Leighton - picture from the programme.Notes in the programme shown right say 'For the last three years, the tall, willowy Margaret Leighton has been starring in London and New York in a dual role in Terence Rattigan's " Separate Tables." Author and star first met when she appeared in the film of " The Winslow Boy " some time ago, but they did not really become friends until he noticed her performance in Separate Tables."

Right - Margaret Leighton in a picture from the programme also shown right.

"Having watched her closely in this play," he said, " I began to think that I must write something for her. It is a wonderful inspiration having a personality in view as you write. So I worked and worked and promised Margaret a new play as a Christmas present."

Right - Programme for 'Variation on a Theme' by Terence Rattigan with Margaret Leighton and directed by John Gielgud at the Golders Green Hippodrome.

By sending her a very roughly typed copy of Variation on a Theme he just managed to get it to her by Christmas Eve. " You can play it anywhere in the world-even Tokio if you can learn Japanese," he told her.'

Above text in quotes is from the 'Variation on a Theme' Programme shown above right.