Shodfriar’s Hall comprises two conjoined buildings of different dates and styles, a fifteenth century L-shaped structure and a substantial red brick extension of 1874. The older of the two (described by Pevsner as ‘the ghost’ of a timber framed building) was heavily restored or, more correctly, reconstructed and much altered by J Oldrid Scott in 1874. Taken for what it is, it is still an impressive and evocative building with jettied storeys at first and second floor levels and broad gables. Scott also designed the new building in contrasting gothic style, with a high pitched roof. The old building housed the Boston Conservative and Constitutional Club and a few shops, while the new contained a great hall at first floor level. The hall was employed for much the same mix of uses as an old circuit theatre, that is, dances, public meetings and concerts, with occasional theatricals, the main difference being that touring theatre companies usually played for only a few nights on each visit. There were no seasons of greater length. Shodfriars is now in a multiplicity of uses, a sad fate for any building of distinction and, whilst the hall is still physically present, alterations that have occurred have obscured its character and made it difficult to judge whether restoration to Scott’s designs could be a practical possibility. It is, in any case, unclear whether the hall was ever as elaborately decorated as a contemporary view suggests. As completed, it was 62ft long, plus a small stage extension, [...]
The Derby Hippodrome is a purpose built theatre opened in 1914 as a 2,300 capacity Variety house. It was converted in 1930 into an 1,800 seat cinema, becoming a theatre once more for only 9 years until 1959. Three years later the theatre was purchased by Mecca Group who converted the theatre into a Bingo Social Club and was later purchased by Walker’s Bingo Group. Walkers Bingo ceased operations rather suddenly and in 2007 sold the theatre to Mr Christopher Anthony, a Property Developer. Local people expressed concern as to the theatre’s future through the pages of the Derby Evening Telegraph and through the winter of late 2007- early 2008 the paper reported numerous incidents of vandalism to the building and pointed to the fact that the vandals could gain entry to the building with apparent ease. Continued deterioration prompted a local businessman to make an offer to purchase the building from Mr Anthony, but the offer was rejected and in February 2008 an arson attack caused damage to the orchestra pit area of the theatre. The following month the Derby Evening Telegraph published shocking photographs of the wrecked interior. The pictures published in the Telegraph edition of Wednesday March 19th showed that the entire dress circle balcony had been removed and all its plaster work destroyed. Elsewhere much of the decorative plaster work around the auditorium had disappeared including large sections of the proscenium arch. Remains of the plaster mouldings on the floor suggested that the damage was the [...]
This classic Art Deco building contained a 1,700-seat auditorium, and for it’s time was one of the biggest venues in the Midlands, being the first provincial theatre to stage Laurel and Hardy in 1947, the comics staying in the Station Hotel directly opposite. Comedy was the main crowd puller through the 1940’s and 50’s, hosting acts such as Chico Marx, Bob Hope, Harry Secombe, Morecambe and Wise, and Dudley regular Ken Dodd. In 1951, their production of Cinderella became the first Christmas Pantomime ever to be televised. With the decline in live variety acts, the Kennedys were forced to sell in 1958, and it became the Bingo Hall we see today.