A listed Victorian venue which has hosted The Beatles and The Rolling Stones has been named one of the most “at risk” theatres in the country.

The Grade II* listed Hippodrome, in Middle Street, Brighton, has been empty since 2007.

Despite £18 million plans to bring the building back into use as an eight-screen cinema, TheTheatres Trust fears the venue could disappear forever if urgent works are not carried out.

Placing it high on its “at risk” register, the society described the building as a “sleeping beauty” adding it was one of the finest surviving examples of its type in Britain.

Peter Morris, who is a theatre consultant and historian who works with The Theatres Trust, called for plans to convert the building into a cinema to be dropped.


He said: “I believe strongly that a refurbished Hippodrome could have a great future as a unique space for live performance in the city.

“At present, the city lacks a venue large enough for the presentation of major touring musicals, major opera and dance productions.

“All this could bring considerable economic benefits for the city.

“I hope that a full feasibility study will be commissioned in the near future.”

Designed by Lewis Karslake, the Hippodrome was originally opened as an ice skating rink in 1897.

In 1901 itwas converted to a circus and a year after a variety theatre by Frank Matcham with Brighton’s own Max Miller a regular between the 1930s and 1950s.

However, its heyday came in 1964when bothThe Beatles and The Rolling Stones performed at the venue in the same year.

The Hippodrome is owned by Jersey-based Kuig Property Investments.

Last year Live Nation said they were in discussions to turn it into a 2,000- capacity live music venue.

The latest plans by Brighton-based Russ Drage Architects for an eight-screen cinema and restaurant in the dome area were drawn up on behalf of an investment client of Helix Property Advisors.

The proposal would see the building integrated with nearby Dukes Lane shopping arcade with the creation of up to five newshops and a public square.

Adam Bates, head of tourism and leisure at Brighton andHove City Council, said: “We are continuing to work with the owners on development proposals that would retain the historic importance of the building whilst considering uses