LAST Thursday (December 19) campaigners from the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome group gathered outside the historic theatre for a very special anniversary. It was 75 years to the day since the venue, once billed as "England's most modern variety theatre" first opened its doors.
The Hippodrome rose from the ashes of the Dudley Opera House, which was destroyed in a fire in 1936. The opening night was on December 19, 1938, when it was officially opened by the local MP, Dudley Joel. The Hippodrome failed as a variety theatre in the late 1950s but limped on until 1964 when it became a bingo club. Since 2009 the building has been unoccupied and there are plans to demolish it as part of the redevelopment of Castle Hill.
But the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome are fighting this. Garry Sawers, known as entertainer Black Country Gaz, organised the 75th anniversary gathering and said: "It's all about raising the profile. This is a great theatre, it should be saved."