The Hippodrome: Story of a London icon
The Hippodrome is one of the oldest brick and mortar gaming venues in London and is a truly iconic landmark in a city brimming over with iconic landmarks. Located on the corner of Cranbourn Street and Charing Cross within the bounds of the City of Westminster, the Hippodrome has a long and colourful history.
The Hippodrome’s history in brief
Designed by Frank Matcham for Edward Moss of Moss Empires, the Hippodrome officially opened in 1900 and was built at a cost of £250,000, a significant amount for the day. Moss chose the name to reflect the many varied acts and attractions that the venue was intended to showcase, including a range of circus attractions, theatre productions and variety performances.
The first performance that officially opened the Hippodrome to the public, was performed in the middle of January 1900, consisting of a music hall review with the name Giddy Ostend, starring the then well-known Little Tich and none other than a rather relatively unknown Charlie Chaplin in one of his first performances.
Even for its time, the Hippodrome was a large scale endeavour and even featured an arena that could be converted into a 230 foot, 100,000 gallon water tank or around 400 ton, when full which was used for “aquatic spectacles”. The water tank was in and of itself quite an attraction and featured up to eight central fountains along with a perimeter of smaller fountains encircling it.
The fantastic spectacle was fairly short-lived when Matcham reconstructed the venue as a 13340 seat music hall and variety theatre. The interior included a mezzanine level, along with a gallery and upper gallery level for maximum viewing of performances. The Hippodrome remained largely unchanged for the next few decades until 1958, when the original interior was demolished and converted into a nightclub called The Talk of the Town.
The Talk of the Town was enormously successful and popular, and hosted an astounding number of local and international acts and superstars including Cliff Richard, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson Five, Tom Jones, Stevie Wonder, and hundreds of other premium acts and artists. Talk of the Town had a great run, all the way up to the early eighties when nightclub magnate Peter Stringfellow renovated the venue once more and reopened it as The London Hippodrome.
The London Hippodrome was sold by Stringfellow to European Leisure, who in turn eventually sold it to Luminar. During this period the Hippodrome experienced highs and lows, winning a string of accolades and awards, attracting thousands of visitors and eventually experiencing the demise of its popularity with hip London crowds.
In 2009 the ailing Hippodrome’s lease was acquired by Jimmy and Simon Thomas, a father and son entrepreneurial endeavour who planned to turn the Hippodrome into a premier venue. They immediately went about renovating the Hippodrome following the original Matcham blueprints and restoring one of London’s biggest icons back to its original glory.
At the time of key renovations, the entrepreneurs received a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand the overall floor space within the Hippodrome. The adjacent Cranbourn Mansions, originally a gentlemen-only apartment block became available for sale. The team jumped on the opportunity and proceeded to expand the original renovations to include the new plans.
The Hippodrome officially reopened on 13th July 2012 by the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Today it features four floors of gaming, six bars, restaurants, an outside smoking terrace and an exclusive playing area called the Golden Room, set in the original basement of the original Hippodrome. Within a year of opening the Hippodrome walked away with a major prize from Totally Gaming Awards.
The Hippodrome has continued to grow and innovate, and one of its biggest attractions in 2018 is its exclusive live dealer platform powered by Evolution Gaming. What makes this live dealer platform unique is that it allows online players to play at the very same tables as punters who are physically in the Hippodrome, live and in real time. The Evolution Live Dealer platform is located in the exclusive Lola underground casino room and is a must-have experience, for both visitors to the Hippodrome, as well as those that enjoy playing from an online platform.
The editorial unit