Golders Green Hippodrome

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The Golders Green Hippodrome in 2008, when it was used as a Christian church.

The Golders Green Hippodrome was built in 1913 by Bertie Crewe as a 3,000-seat music hall, to serve North London and the new London Underground Northern line expansion into Golders Green in the London Borough of Barnet, London, England.

Taken over by the BBC in the 1960s as a television studio, it has been put to more recent use as a radio studio and multi-purpose concert venue. In 2007, it became an evangelical church building. In 2017 it was acquired by Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami (Centre for Islamic Enlightening). It was to be converted into an Islamic centre, but residents objected, and Barnet council deferred a decision.[1]

In October 2021 Hillsong Church bought the Hippodrome, with the intention of holding Sunday services there.[1]


The Grade II listed Hippodrome Theatre building next to Golders Green Underground station was built as a 3,000-seat music hall by Bertie Crewe, and opened on Boxing Day 1913.

Its capacity was reduced by half with the construction of a full theatre stage, and it began to be used for pre- and post-London tours, and has been used as a receiving venue for West End transfers - Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, Stephane Grappelli, Arthur Askey, Charlie Chester, Django Reinhardt and Chico Marx played there. Donald Swann's Wild Thyme played in 1955,[2] and its regular performances included an annual pantomime[3] and Ralph Reader's Gang Show.[4]

Touring opera was still popular at the time, and pre-war performances included the British National Opera Company[5] and post-War in 1952 with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and a filmed production of The Mikado in 1966.[6] The theatre appeared in an early British sexploitation nudist film called Naked as Nature Intended (1961)[7] directed by Harrison Marks and starring Pamela Green.

BBC radio studio and concert hall[edit]

In 1969, the BBC were looking for additional television studio capacity to cope with the introduction of colour transmissions.[8] They took out a long leasehold on the Hippodrome to 2060[9] In 1969, the Hippodrome was converted into a radio studio and concert hall with reduced capacity of 700 seats, as the BBC had been looking for a north London venue, and became home for the BBC Concert Orchestra, and also saw broadcasts and concerts from the BBC Big Band and BBC Radio Orchestra.

As a concert venue, it was used in various configurations for:

The BBC recorded various radio specials at the Hippodrome, including the famous BBC Sight and Sound concert of January 1978.[19] AC/DC's 27 October 1977 appearance at the Hippodrome for Sight and Sound in Concert was later released on DVD as Live '77.[citation needed]

The BBC also broadcast the weekly radio programme Friday Night is Music Night,[20] a traditional old light entertainment programme it had moved from the Camden Palace Theatre. Presented originally by Robin Boyle and conducted by Sydney Torch, it was presented latterly by Ken Bruce.

However, with a public brief to bring music to all of the people of the UK, and with additional high-quality space available all over London, the BBC announced its intention to leave the building in August 2003, after mounting minor repair work, saw the BBC Concert Orchestra relocate to the Mermaid Theatre in central London, among other places.

In 2003, the BBC left the Grade II listed building[21] vacant and deteriorating, although it was bought by El Shaddai International Christian Centre, an evangelical church.


After the BBC left the theatre in August 2003, it was left unused and deteriorated considerably, to the extent that, in early 2005, the venue was placed on English Heritage’s ‘buildings at risk’ register as its future had become so uncertain. Barnet Council was keen for the building to carry on being used as an entertainment venue, and the BBC was given 18 months to sell it as such. However, since no buyer was forthcoming, the local authority allowed it to be sold at auction in September 2006 with the potential for being developed for other uses - for which the BBC had already applied but been turned down.

For planning purposes the Hippodrome came to be classed as 'D2' under the 'Use Classes Order' and not under sui generis, exclusively as a theatre, as no stage productions had taken place for more than 40 years. The 'D2' class meant that potential buyers could use the theatre for: "Cinemas, Dance and Concert Halls, Sports Halls, Swimming Baths, other Indoor Sports and Leisure Uses."

The theatre's potential fate galvanised a group formed of various interest groups and local newspapers, including Save London's Theatres Campaign, the Theatres Trust, the Hendon Times and the Hampstead & Highgate Express.

El Shaddai International Christian Centre[edit]

In early 2007, the Christian group El Shaddai International Christian Centre purchased the Hippodrome for £5million, despite local concerns over the group's beliefs and its intentions for the building.[22][23]

Centre for Islamic Enlightening[edit]

The building in 2017

In 2017, El Shaddai International Christian Centre sold the building and it was bought by the Markaz al-Tathgeef al-Islami (The Centre for Islamic Enlightening),[24] a Shia Islamic centre.

There was a backlash from some members of the local community of Golders Green towards the centre, claiming that the venue should not be granted a 'place of worship' licence.[25]


  1. ^ a b Sherwood, Harriet (21 October 2021). "Megachurch buys Golders Green Hippodrome after mosque plan blocked". The Guardian.
  2. ^ "Musicals". Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  3. ^ "The Gallery - Pantobills - Aladdin - Golders Green Hippodrome". Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  4. ^ "19631965 The Gang Show and Wimbledon". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  5. ^ "British National Opera Company at Golders Green". The Musical Times. Musical Times Publications Ltd. 69 (1019): 66–67. 1 January 1928. doi:10.2307/917029. JSTOR 917029.
  6. ^ "The Old D'Oyly Carte on Film and Video". Gilbert and Sullivan Discography. 18 November 2001. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ [1] Archived 27 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "History of television studios in London". Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  9. ^ Rik Henderson (3 December 2004). "Camden New Journal". Camden New Journal. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Concerts - About Maria Friedman". Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  11. ^ "- YouTube". Archived from the original on 11 October 2020.
  12. ^ "The Kinks - Here Comes The Groove - Hippodrome, Golders Green (listing of bootleg recording)". 14 July 1974. Archived from the original on 8 October 2007.
  13. ^ "Barclay James Harvest BBC Broadcasts and Transcription Discs". Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Procol at Golders Green Hippo in March 1974". Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  15. ^ [2] Archived 16 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "A SCENT OF FLOWERS with Ian McKellen: Photos". 23 October 1964. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  17. ^ "A SCENT OF FLOWERS with Ian McKellen". Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  18. ^ "". Archived from the original on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Gentle Giant - GG At The GG - Sight And Sound In Concert". Discogs. 2006.
  20. ^ Smith, Marilyn Hill (25 October 2013). "BBC Radio 2 - Sunday Night is Music Night, 60th Anniversary Concert". BBC.
  21. ^ Historic England. "Golders Green Hippodrome (1286941)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  22. ^ "BBC News article about Hippodrome purchase". 29 March 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  23. ^ "Local press article about Hippodrome purchase". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  24. ^ Harriet Sherwood,, Rabbi urges calm in row over plan to turn Golders Green landmark into a mosque, UK, October 15, 2017
  25. ^ Reporter, Jewish News. "Row reignited over Golders Green Hippodrome". Retrieved 17 November 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°34′19″N 0°11′36″W / 51.57194°N 0.19333°W / 51.57194; -0.19333