Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust's 8th AGM

Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust will hold its EIGHTH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) of the TRUST is to be held at 7.30 pm on TUESDAY 16TH JULY 2019 at ST. MARY'S PARISH CENTRE, DARLEY LANE, DERBY DE1 3AX

FOLLOWING THE AGM Tommy Harrison, an architectural post graduate student at Derby University, will give a presentation on the regeneration of Becketwell area of Derby. This is an alternative option to the plans recently published by the Derby City Council. It incorporates the Hippodrome with the extended stage and fly tower, an additional floor above the auditorium ceiling and a redesigned front of house.

Joan Travis
Derby currently well behind in theatre provision

The Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust has conducted a piece of work to establish how Derby compares to other cities in terms of number of theatre seats taking into account the local population.

The graph in this article compares Derby to 8 other towns and cities across the UK, it shows the number of theatre seats in 2019 per 1000 people in the local population. In Derby’s case the theatre seats include Derby Theatre and the Guildhall Theatre but also assumes the Assembly rooms are reopened.

As the graph shows, even if the Assembly Rooms were reopened Derby still falls well behind other cities on number of theatre seats compared to the local population. Since the Assembly Rooms and the Guildhall are currently out of action that would actually bring this metric down to just over 2 theatre seats per 1000 people.

The population figures are based on the 2011 census and since Derby’s population has increased rapidly in the last 7 years (and increased relative to many other UK cities) the metric for Derby is in fact overly generous.

However, the shaded bars on top of Derby’s columns show what would happen if the Hippodrome was restored. In this scenario Derby’s number of theatre seats per head of population would return to a very respectable level and would be comparable with Nottingham for example.

In the real world, this would have a noticeable effect. The people of Derby would have a much greater choice of live entertainment each week of the year and it would give greater capacity for amateur groups to practice and perform. The restoration of the Hippodrome (Derby’s largest theatre) would increase the footfall in the city centre especially boosting Derby’s night time economy.

Number of theatre seats.png

Joan Travis
The Siddiquis voice their support for Derby Hippodrome

This week, TV stars and local celebrities, the Siddiqui family gave the Derby Hippodrome restoration project their backing. Father Sid and sons Baasit and Umar are regular contributors of Channel 4’s “Gogglebox” programme, entertaining millions across the UK with their quick-witted commentary on the week’s television viewing.

They are very proud of their home City of Derby and want to see it thrive, but like many others have recognised that Derby hasn’t got anywhere near enough theatres given it has a population of over a quarter of a million people plus the many thousands living in the immediate area.

As the Siddiquis explained “It would be great to have the Derby Hippodrome back up and running. Obviously, television is great but our city would definitely benefit from having more theatres”

The Siddiquis would like to encourage more people in Derby to support the current push to restore the Hippodrome as it would clearly have such a big positive impact on St Peter’s Quarter and the wider city Centre; pulling more people into the city centre and helping to Derby to survive the pressures seen on every British high street.

A spokesperson for Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust said “We are looking forward to seeing people’s jaws drop if we can pull this off. I’m not sure the people of Derby generally realise that in 2019 we are genuinely getting very close to actually being able to restore the theatre with the help of the HLF. We just need the public to give us a financial leg up. We’ve been greatly encouraged by the generosity of our donors so far who have given a lot for the sake of everyone who calls Derby home”

If you would like to join the Siddiquis in supporting the project please donate to the current Crowdfunding Appeal, the link is shown below.

Joan Travis
Gwen Taylor records video message for people of Derby

Gwen Taylor, the patron of the Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust recorded a video this weekend to encourage people to support the Hippodrome Crowdfunding Campaign. Gwen, who regularly tours the country performing on stage is also a well loved television actor, she has stared in Duty Free, Heartbeat, Coronation Street, A Bit of a Do, Monty Python's Life of Brian and The Lady in the Van. In this video she explains how the Derby Hippodrome inspired her career and how she wants this very special theatre to inspire future generations of actors.

The video can be found on our YouTube Channel…

Gwen has often spoken on this topic in the past. As a child she used to come to pantomimes at the Derby Hippodrome. She remembers with relish the electric atmosphere of the theatre when all three tiers of the auditorium were packed with families who has come to be entertained. It was this atmosphere which gave Gwen an interest in the theatres generally.

Gwen said “whilst digital entertainment has its place, it simply doesn’t replace theatre. Theatres bring communities together, audiences experience the same entertainment simultaneously and build up a connection with those around them. Theatres draw people into city centres and make an area thrive”.

Joan Travis
Derby Hippodrome Crowdfunding Campaign

With a business plan finalised which outlines the two-phase development of the Hippodrome, Derby’s oldest theatre, and the current situation of the city losing two major performance spaces, 2019 is a big year for the Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust, as it announces its Crowdfunding campaign.

The Trust’s aim is to raise a minimum of £22,500 via Crowdfunding which is needed to begin the first stage of restoration for the building, which has been derelict since 2008.

Chair Joan Travis said: “It’s the moment for a big push for the Hippodrome. There are currently no viable large performance spaces in Derby. A renovated theatre in a derelict area of the city will be answering the Government’s drive to attract people in to our city centres, breathing life back in to them and encouraging spend.”

The Trust is making applications to national funding agencies for the restoration of the Hippodrome in two phases to deliver a workable future for this hidden jewel in Derby City Centre and provide the City with the cultural venue it is currently missing.

The goal is to have the first phase of restoration underway by 2020. This will involve clearing and stabilising the building, rebuilding the external walls and front of house and replacing the roof. The result will be a functional space which can be used by amateur local theatre companies, schools, community groups and touring companies.

DHRT Trustee Peter Steer said: “Walking into this building in 2020 you would see a restored front of house section with a booking office and customer facilities, the auditorium would be a large, multi-use space with flexible seating, good lighting and a temporary stage. The operator of this venue will have an opportunity to grow the business so the profits can be combined with other funding sources once the fabric of the building is secure.”

The DHRT must raise funds to make these plans a reality which it is doing via a new Crowdfunding campaign to match fund resources from its grant applications. The Trust is appealing for help from anyone who has an interest in promoting live theatre performances across the country and / or who are interested in regeneration projects of this kind to invest in the project.

DHRT Board member Digby Bown said: “By donating you will be helping to change people’s lives, career prospects and livelihoods as well as contributing to something really exciting. We know the people of Derby can be very generous and even a small donation means that they can play a part in rejuvenating this part of the city.” 

DHRT needs to raise £22,500 to get the show on the road!


Joan Travis