Manchester UK- Hulme Hippodrome squatted (1 Viewer)


campervan untilising nomadic traveller
Dec 18, 2011
Brighton, United Kingdom
Not sure all the photos copied below, so click the link if you can to see the rest. This place looks epic. I hope they look after it.

Inside Hulme Hippodrome: How squatters have given the building a new lease of life
Hulme Hippodrome has been closed off from the public for decades and has gradually become the stuff of legnd.

  • 07:00, 2 SEP 2017
  • UPDATED10:48, 4 SEP 2017
From the outside the imposing building looks like a disused factory.

But step through the doors of the former Edwardian music hall and it becomes clear just how impressive the venue once was.


Inside Hulme Hippodrome (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Ornate gold carvings above the former stage still pop and glisten, despite years of neglect.

Vibrant purple, green and red paint still stands out amongst the rubble, rubbish and dozens of abandoned foldable chairs.

Vivid red velvet theatre seats still sit proudly in rows around the circle and stalls.

A golden lion, once part of a pair, sits and keeps watch above the stage, which was once graced by Nina Simone.


Some of the ornate carvings inside Hulme Hippodrome (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Below that sits an old bingo machine - a reminder of the Hippodrome’s former life as a bingo hall during the 1970s.

A cracked mirror sits in a dressing room where rock ‘n’ roll singer Joe Brown must have once prepared for his famous performance at the theatre.

Those brave enough to venture into the bowels of the theatre are greeted by the imposing old battery cells of a disused electricity generator.

Walk through the extensive maze of chilly, damp subterranean rooms and you will find a huge hole in the ground. Could it be one of the secret tunnels for performers which are rumoured to have led to The Junction pub and the city centre?


Squatter Syd Far at Hulme Hippodrome (Image: Manchester Evening News)

This impressive and cavernous building was recently taken over by a group of squatters.

The artists and musicians have been here for around four months and hope to turn the place into a community centre for the residents of Hulme.

The group is linked to artist collective Loose Space, whose members were recently evicted from the former Cornerhouse and Hotspur Press buildings.

Today, they have invited the community along to the Hulme Hippo jam, described as ‘a small laid back affair’ with tea, poetry and jazz, for the local community.


The old battery cells of a disused electricity generator in the basement (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Organiser Syd Far-I says the squatters broke into the building several months ago and have spent weeks cleaning to bring it back into a habitable condition.

He is keen to open up the building as a ‘community cafe’ where locals can play music, create art and share skills. There are even ambitions to create a soup kitchen and a library.

“We have always known about this place and it was on the squatting list,” he says. “A couple of members broke into the building about four months ago and we’ve all been living here but we’ve only just got to the stage when we can invite people in.

“It was a complete tip with chairs everywhere, dead birds and lots of pigeon crap. We wanted to be able to sit in those chairs and read a good book. We’ve hoovered the chairs and cleaned up. Anyone who stays needs to muck in and clean up.”


Stars leading to below the hippodrone (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Syd says anyone is welcome to join in with community music jams or to come and photograph inside the building.

But only a handful of people are actually living there after it was condemned by the council as unsafe.

“You can’t live here unless you help out with the cafe,” he says. “And we can’t have too many people here because it’s too dangerous. I wanted to have six people maximum as long as they help out but the team have been absolutely amazing.

“We’ve got a few people living here who are just trying to exist while they wait for a flat, who otherwise would be on the streets.”


An old organ left behind by a church group which once used the building (Image: Manchester Evening News)

The building is currently owned by the Gilbert Deya Ministries - a controversial group affiliated to ‘miracle’ preacher Gilbert Deya.

But the squatters have not heard anything from members of the church group, which bought the building back in 1999 and held church services in the foyer for years.

Deya, a man who reportedly claimed he could help infertile couples have ‘miracle babies’, visited Hulme last year for ‘Seven days of unusual miracles’.

In July he was extradited to his native Kenya to face accusations he stole children as proof of miracles. He denies the charges.


Vivid red velvet theatre seats still sit proudly in rows around the circle and stalls (Image: Manchester Evening News)

But the preacher’s influence can be found throughout the building.

Dozens of his books titled ‘The Solution to Financial Prosperity’ litter the floors and aisles of the theatre.

“Deya’s books are all around here, there are boxes and boxes of them,” says Syd. “And the church has left lots of things behind like the organ and the drums.

“We think the stage and floor in the main theatre were built recently by the church.


The squatters broke into the building several months ago (Image: Manchester Evening News)

“Technically this is our house now, we have squatters rights. Deya Ministries have no inclination to get us out because they are too concerned with other things. They just want the chairs back.”

Sleeping in this huge building can be a strange experience for those who chose to stay.

One squatter, Ian, had to move from his sleeping spot in the aisles of the theatre because it was too dusty.

And the single working shower, located in the bowels of the cavernous building, is a little too spooky for some of the residents.


The squatters have spent weeks cleaning to bring it back into a habitable condition (Image: Manchester Evening News)

“I won’t use it,” Ian says. “I can feel the energy of some of the things that have happened here. It’s creepy.”

Aside from the fevered cleaning sessions, the squatters spend most of their days making music and art.

Notes explaining their philosophy on squatting and education have been pasted up on walls in the entrance to the building.

A stove and an oven allows them to cook food, much of it donated to them by local residents.


From the outside the imposing building looks like a disused factory (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Electricity comes from an old generator which Syd says is linked to the National Grid.

“We always settle our electricity bills,” he says.

Over the weeks a few people have broken into the building. Syd believes they are urban explorers keen to snap pictures of the old theatre.

And although he admits the squatters have come up against some opposition, he claims most residents have welcomed them.


Hulme Hippodrome has been closed off from the public for decades (Image: Manchester Evening News)

“I just want to raise the profile of squatting,” he says. “There is a massive disparity of empty spaces and people on the streets.

“We want this to be a community space. Squatting has a medieval history of people who want to build community centres

“For anyone who wants to come and play music loudly here it’s perfect - it was made for that.”

Around two dozen people have turned out to the music event, many keen to see inside the theatre for the first time.


The building is currently owned by the Gilbert Deya Ministries - a controversial group affiliated to ‘miracle’ preacher Gilbert Deya(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Musician Melissa Bernand says: “Something like this is what makes a community. It’s the first time I’ve come here but I feel like it’s going back in time to when Hulme was full of music and community events.”

Beverley Gallier, partner of the late music mogul Alan Wise, says she is very impressed by what the squatters were done.

“When I first came it was a right mess and I’m just coming here now and I’m so impressed,” she says.

“They have done a lot of work. I’ve never been inside before but I know how well used this venue used to be.


Ornate gold carvings above the former stage still pop and glisten, despite years of neglect(Image: Manchester Evening News)

“My partner Alan used to use this place as a music promoter. He put some of the first punk music on in Hulme. It really has a lot of significance.

“In those days you would have bands coming from Jamaica and the West Indies. I had a friend who came here and played with a Ghanian man. She was a hippy girl and ended up teaching those skills from him in local schools.”

Artist Bob Baker, 56, came all the way from Sheffield to take part in the evening of music and to help his friend with a photography project.


The former Hulme Hippodrome during its incarnation as a Mecca bingo club in 1962 (Image: Manchester Archives)

He describes the squatters work within the Hippodrome building as ‘truly underground’.

“I think that as long as you make the place look better and improve it you might as well use it as a community space for people to trade skills.

“The building has so much potential. If you work with a small bit at a time you can build it back up and turn it back into an active, living space. It’s so hard to break into these spaces now that this is truly underground.”
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