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Golders Green Hippodrome


The theatre stands on a prominent site alongside Golders Green Underground station and viewable across a large open forecourt. The principal façade is symmetrical, in stucco or reconstructed stone, with a three storey centre in seven bays divided by piers with Ionic capitals, carrying a full entablature with urns above the cornice. On either side, channelled and quoined pavilions rise as short pedimented towers, between which the back wall of the house is set back as a plain attic with a prominent pitched roof and central cupola. Return elevation is plainer. The main entrance is in a curved corner bay. Even allowing for the fact that this entrance served only the best seats, front of house accommodation was clearly always cramped and there is little scope for gaining space. No bars were shown in the first design and those eventually provided were barely adequate for such a large house.

Alterations made for the BBC Concert Orchestra partly obscured, but did not irreparably damage, Crewe's interior. The auditorium design aimed at decadent Roman splendour but, as with some other theatres of the immediate pre-Great War period, it missed the mark. This is, nevertheless, a notable interior. It has a square proscenium opening, with its lintel supported on console brackets. Above this, a huge and bare sounding board (which an old-fashioned allegorical painting would have relieved) shelters flanking pavilions which contain two levels of boxes with an extra, impractical box facing directly toward the audience at the upper level. The boxes are framed by 'correct' Roman Doric columns which, on one side rise from uncomfortable pendant corners. They support a full entablature, which continues over the proscenium. Over the boxes are lion-drawn chariots, reminiscent of Matcham's London Coliseum, but somewhat too small to astonish. The Doric theme is continued in a triglyph frieze on the upper of two balcony fronts.

The upper part of the fly tower and the stage wings were colonised from 1970 by a big rehearsal room, offices, band room, plant etc. The greater part of the auditorium floor was levelled as an orchestra stage (the raked floor surviving beneath) and a big sound control room and storage space inserted at the rear. Audiences inhabited the stalls and first balcony, and the second balcony was blocked off.

In 2003 the BBC announced that they would put the Hippodrome up for sale. After some years of doubtful future a church group, the El Shaddai International Christian Centre, purchased the theatre and in 2007 opened it as a church. Works have been carried out to remove the BBC's temporary interventions in the auditorium. The suspended ceiling above the stalls has been removed and now a major lighting rig is suspended above the stalls. Both balconies are open and fully seated, but it appears that the stalls still retain their flat floor for now.

Notices appeared on the Hippodrome in February 2017 stating that a High Court writ of possession had been issued and the Hippodrome is due to be sold by auction on 09 May 2017.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1913 - 1968
Current state
Current use
Religious centre (church services and some live use) <br>
(previous use as BBC Concert Hall)
North End Road, London, Barnet, NW1 7RP, England
Further details
Other names
  • 1913 Design/Construction:
    Bertie Crewe
    - Architect
  • 1913 Owner/Management: Golders Green Amusement and Development Co (Walter Gibbons)
  • 1913 - 1968 Use:
  • 1922 Owner/Management: Hippodrome (Golders Green) Ltd
  • 1962 Owner/Management: Marfield Theatre Enterprises Ltd
  • 1969 Alteration: converted to TV studio (architect unknown).
  • 1970 - 2003 Owner/Management: British Broadcasting Corporation, c.99 yr lease (freehold, London Borough of Barnet)
  • 1972 Alteration: converted to radio concert hall.
  • 2007 Owner/Management: El Shaddai International Christian Centre.
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
    1914: 2290
    1946: 2245
    1969: 2261
  • Capacity
  • Listing
Stage type
was proscenium, raked
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: Depth: was 30ft
Proscenium width: 37ft 6in
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -