OUR page one story last week about the ‘stay of execution’ for the Dudley Hippodrome has cased a stir among Bugle readers with more than 900 people reading about the news on our web pages.
Several were moved to post a comment as the story has revived many happy memories of the old theatre for them.
Last Monday Dudley Council’s Planning Committee decided unanimously to defer a decision on demolishing the historic 1930s theatre building until further investigations had taken place.
These were just some of the comments. Hilary Richards Maidement wrote: “My mum worked there in the 1950s as an usherette, she managed to get lots of autographs, even Bob Hope’s.”
Paul Andre Gibbons posted the question: “Laurel and Hardy played there right?”
He’s correct. The comedy legends did play at the Dudley Hippodrome during one of their tours of Great Britain in the 1950s.
Lesley Parry recalls seeing another childhood favourite at the Hippodrome. She wrote: “Remember seeing Auntie Jean and Tingha and Tucker there. Can you remember the special sign?”
Jeanne Beasley wrote of her own childhood appearances at the theatre: “I remember dancing on that very stage as part of the Latour Babes. Are any of the other dancers still alive and kicking, I do hope so?”
John Morton is another with happy memories. He posted: “I have fond memories of the jazz concerts at the Hippodrome.
“Top artists from London used to come up here regularly.
“The Gerry Mulligan quartet from the USA, with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, also appeared.
“So there I stood, on the footpath in Castle Hill, Dudley, talking to Gerry, a jazz legend! He was staying at the George Hotel. He looked so frail a gust of wind could have blown him over.
“His fingers were incredibly thin and I was afraid I might crush his hand when I shook it.”
Some readers commented on the efforts to save the old theatre. Mike Turford wrote: “It must be saved or even rebuilt at the Black Country Museum,” and Joann Davies said: “It would be a sad but inevitable loss to Dudley.”
However, not everyone agrees. Christian Kiever wrote:?“Total eyesore, hasn’t been a theatre since 1964. Structurally unsound and not worth keeping. Too many people in the Black Country live in an alleged golden era that probably never was. Keeping one old unused building isn’t going to bring it back. Didn’t see too many protestors when it was a dilapidated bingo hall...”
What do you think should happen to the Dudley Hippodrome? Should it be saved or should it make way for a new development?