A VICTORIAN theatre where The Beatles once performed is one step closer to opening after owners replaced its "dangerous and depleted" roof ahead of winter.

Work to restore Brighton Hippodrome to its former glory began after it was bought by family-run company Matsim Properties last year.

The "monumental task" of restoring the auditorium has now taken a major step forward, as owners replaced the Grade II listed building's rotting roof with a new structure.

Steelwork on the original roof had rusted through and any hope of recovering it would have caused "excessive vibration and undoubtedly brought down further if not all of the decorative ceiling", the company said.

The new roof means workers can now begin to repair the ceiling before removing the defective roof coverings.

Owner Simon Lambor, of Matsim Properties, said: "We’re feeling more confident about saving the building, having installed the new roof over the Hippodrome ahead of what will no doubt be another wet winter.

"There is still a monumental task ahead of us in terms of renewing and recovering the rest of the roofs, clearance and treatment of the extensive dry rot and a full programme of repair and overhaul of the auditorium's magnificent ceiling.

"All that is before we get to start putting the building back together again.

"We thank everyone for their support at this early stage, we have had tens if not hundreds of meetings with potential partners, entertainment professionals and hospitality leaders that have directed us on what the building needs to become to live up to its potential.

The Argus: The Hippodrome is under restoration The Hippodrome is under restoration

"We’ll soon be submitting a licensing application to pre-approve the programme of entertainment that will be on offer ahead of making a full planning application.

"We will be able to update the public fully on the operation of the venue along with some other very exciting releases soon."

The intricately designed auditorium has played host to artists of international acclaim such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but has worn many hats in the past.

It was built as an ice rink in 1897, but has been used as a circus and variety theatre as well as a music venue during its 123-year history.

The site fell into a state of disrepair in recent years and has been unused since 2007.

In May, the Hippodrome opened its doors to the public for the first time in over a decade, as residents were given access to initial ideas around the venue's future.