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New bid to save the Hippodrome

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 09, 2014

Friends of Dudley Hippodrome outside the venue last month marking its 75th anniversary

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TALKS between Dudley Council and a company looking to take over the Hippodrome and run it as a theatre are set for this month, in a development which may mean the 75-year-old variety theatre will be saved.

The Dudley Hippodrome has been empty and unused since 2009 when it ceased to be a bingo hall.

But now Events That Rok is "exploring a potential acquisition of the Hippodrome from Dudley Council with a view to reopening the venue as a working theatre and community centre for the people of Dudley."

Events That Rok is an international events company producing, co-ordinating and live streaming events throughout the world.

Its co-founder and chairman is Jonathan Kendrick, the son of Vic Kendrick who owned the Dudley Hippodrome in the 1960s.

The company's website describes Jonathan as "a highly successful serial entrepreneur." The theatre faces an uncertain future. Decades of neglect have taken their toll and the building has been earmarked for demolition as part of plans to redevelop the Castle Hill area of Dudley.

Jason Francis, CEO of Events That Rok, told The Bugle: "I understand that this has become a very emotive issue and, whereas I do not want to give anyone false hope, all I can say is that if there is a viable deal to be done with Dudley Council, and a willingness thereafter, then Jonathan Kendrick and Events that Rok would like to rebuild, reopen and run the Hippodrome as a multi-purpose venue for the people and, importantly, the children of Dudley."

The Friends of Dudley Hippodrome, who are campaigning to save the historic theatre, have been in contact with Events that Rok. Garry Sawers, of the friends group, said: "The priority is to save the building, so we'd be very happy if Events that Rok are successful in their dealings with the council and we look forward to doing something with them."

What do you think about the latest Hippodrome plan? Email your views to editor@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or log on to www.blackcountry bugle.co.uk or write to us at The Black Country Bugle, Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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  • ROKSTARS  |  February 01 2014, 2:27PM

    i would like to respond to Mr Osinborn I am chairman and founder of Rok stars PLC and Events thats Rok ltd i am very interested in your comments regarding the original deeds stating a theatre should remain on the site we have been unable to find anything on this . Also we are led to believe there is another document regarding the car parking.We cannot find anything on this also Both these documents would be most helpful in our negotiations with the council and especially the car parking as this is crucial to our business plans as at the moment the Hippodrome appears to have NO parking rights whatsoever.We find this strange as it must have had something in the past as without parking the whole Theatre is not viable Please bear in mind we would be operating mainly late afternoon and through out the evening which not only would not interfere with the ZOO but also invigorate the town centre and Castle hill during the evening hours Any Assistance from anyone would be much appreciated Jonathan Kendrick Founder and Chairman Rok Stars PLC

  • NickJTownsend  |  January 15 2014, 7:01PM

    Some of the rudest people I have ever met seem to be in charge of Dudley Council. I don't think that they like the people who actually live in Dudley. This is no joke. If Dudley Council knock this building down then they are basically going to be sending out a massive middle finger to the people of Dudley. Is Dudley council that stupid and ignorant? In fact if they do knock down this building which has the potential of bringing tourism back to Dudley then they may as well construct a massive statue of a fist raising a middle finger and aim that at the town.

  • Rovi_Osinborn  |  January 11 2014, 5:51PM

    Dear Editor, in response to your report in the last issue of B.C.B. I would like to add that is about time the council listened to the viable plan of saving the Dudley Hippodrome. So far they have tried every trick in the book to get the building destroyed, even as far as going against the original deeds that state a Theatre or Playhouse of type should remain on the site, a legal agreement put in place in the 1930's by the Earl of Dudley. If you look back at the proposed plans that have gone on since the Mid-90s there was once a legal agreement for the car park to be used by the then Gala Bingo & Jb's that was publicly stated by Peter Suddock the Chief Executive of Dudley Zoo, who also said the Gala & Jb's were not in his short term plans see link below. http://tinyurl.com/npavonc So it seems the conflict of interest is going on with the Zoo & DMBC over the future of the site, & they have gone public long before any talk of the demolition ever took place. Recently Jb's new owner applied for planning permission to change the use from a Night Club to a Banquet Suite, to have it revoked over issues of parking as they are not allowed to use the Car Park which is under lease to the Zoo. At present Castle Hill is asleep at night, when the Hippodrome is re-opened it will bring Dudley back to life on an evening, the Basement will be used as a Live Music Venue, promoting local Bands etc. The Theatre will host Plays Panto's & into the night Ghost Hunts will take place. So a building that can be used almost 24/7 as apposed to a Car Park that closes at 6pm on a daily basis. I do not know all the detail's of Event that Roc's proposal, but I am sure they have the tools of a successful company that will bring The Dudley Hippodrome back to life making the building a Community Hub to be enjoyed by the people of Dudley & beyond for many generation's to come, as well as bringing Tourism number's back to Dudley. With this the town centre would thrive & maybe the big chain stores would return too. For those who remember Dudley as a great town, would also remember the Dudley Hippodrome in it's Heyday. To say putting a Car Park in place of the Dudley Hippodrome would improve Castle Hill is a back door attempt by the Zoo to expand & benefit the Zoo & not the people of Dudley. A Zoo that has struggled for years running at a loss to get it's hands on funding, at every opportunity. So it would seem the Zoo's new found control of the Car Park at the rear will be a big factor on the future of Castle Hill & any buildings that were originally built alongside it. We will continue the fight in Honour of the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome's Chairman Geoff Fitzpatrick who recently past away. Kind Regards Ivor Robinson.