A DERELICT venue has been named as one of the most endangered buildings in England and Wales.

Actor and comedian Griff Rhys Jones has urged owners to waste no time in starting work to restore the Brighton Hippodrome after the Victorian Society, of which he is president, placed it on a list of ten critically at-risk buildings.

The list aims to highlight Victorian and Edwardian buildings “of amazing quality risking demolition or ruin through neglect”.

The Argus:

The Grade II listed Brighton Hippodrome in Middle Street fits perfectly into this category, having been disused and derelict since 2006.

Mr Rhys Jones described the condition of the building, and others on the list, as “both upsetting and enlightening”.

He said: “When the Victorians built, they often created lasting adornments to their cities. If they instigated a commercial idea, like a circus theatre in Brighton, they designed it with vim and panache. How does that compare with some of our utilitarian commercial entertainment architecture today?

The Argus:

“Many of our Victorian gems have a depressing recent story. Often profit takes priority and buildings are neglected until they have reached a complete state of dereliction.

“These buildings were built with great skill and they brighten their urban environment.

“We know that restoring heritage of this kind adds value to an area.

The Argus:

“Never has there been a better time, with the retail sector dealt another blow and the town centre fading as a business hub, for us to recognise that if we want our city centres to continue to be useful, visited and adored they had better look great.

“They must reflect their own past achievement and history, and be characterful and interesting.

The Brighton Hippodrome, which was designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham, was originally built in 1897 as an ice rink before being converted into a circus in 1901. In recent years the building, which once offered a rich mix of colourful performances, has been left to rot.

The Argus:

However, its fortunes could be about to change.

Earlier this month Hipp Investments sold the site to the Lambor family, who run Matsim Properties in Brighton

The company has committed to saving the building from further deterioration and has plans to restore the auditorium.

The Argus:

Mr Rhys Jones said: “Brighton is a thriving city with a vibrant culture. If anywhere can support such a unique venue it is Brighton.

“With staycations likely to increase in popularity and Brighton’s easy access to London, surely Matsim Properties can develop a plan which makes sensitive use of this building? “