Brighton's Hippodrome in Middle Street has been quietly in the care of bingo players for some 40 years.

However, as Adam Trimingham warns, we must "Act now to save the Hippodrome" (The Argus, August 9).

This is Brighton's other theatre treasure, second only to the Theatre Royal yet, as an example of late Victorian/Edwardian theatre design (1897), it is architecturally more interesting. Its oval-shaped auditorium sits under a stunningly expansive and richly decorated dome.

A technical/structural triumph when built as a skating rink, it was converted into a theatre in 1900 by Britain's most famous theatre architect, Frank Matcham.

It thus served as a variety theatre during the great age of music hall.

Sarah Bernhardt, Lillie Langtry, Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini all played there, while Lawrence Olivier made his debut at the Brighton Hippodrome - and fell over at his first entrance.

Now the bingo brigade have gone, new uses have to be found for this important, listed building. It must not be allowed to go the way of other treasures. Its transition to new uses should be speedy or serious decay will set in, an inevitable fire would happen and it would be lost forever.

This is not, however, a call for Brighton and Hove City Council to step in with taxpayers' money. It is a call to the council to enable the Hippodrome to awake to a new life.

Middle and Ship Streets, connected at the north end, both one-way with double yellow lines one side and cars which never move parked nose-totail on the other, are the most characterless roads in central Brighton.

Both, however, have handsome buildings, many containing bars and restaurants, which struggle to present a brave and joyful front.

If the council implemented a Bond Street-type design here, at one stroke it would extend The Lanes to the seafront, where a number of pavement restaurants have set up, and enhance the setting of these existing bars and restaurants so the streets would develop the buzz Bond Street now enjoys.

In turn, this would create the opportunity to enhance the frontage of the Hippodrome and make the public more aware it exists.

Thus for very little cost, the council could extend The Lanes to the seafront while making possible a rich variety of new uses for the Hippodrome, returning this marvellous building to the lively fabric of our city by the sea.

What are they waiting for?

  • John Foley, Marine Parade, Brighton