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Royal Hippodrome Theatre

We sacrificed Sunday at the Hastings Classic Car Show for a tour of Eastbourne
Royal Hippodrome Theatre, and boy was it worth it. We were greeted by our tour guide in the foyer and given a brief introduction as to what the tour entailed. 

We entered the theatre and were seated in the stalls and learned that people on the doors stood on boxes and collected the entrance money, then took it to
the office (Box Office!), then onto the stage; a really different view and we were amazed how the stage was sloped to give audiences a better view. We were then told the tale of the ‘Scottish Play’.    

Next, down under the stage to see the secret trap doors and costumes, then up quite a few stairs to where they raise and lower the scenery. This is done by a rope and pulley system and was originally operated by local sailors who were on shore leave. 

Back down the stairs and into the dressing rooms and rehearsal area; this was originally the accommodation for the owner who had six children, and who sadly passed away from TB years later. It is said that people living across the road asked who the children were at night when the theatre was closed. 

Then up onto the top seats. Looking down, it is surprising how high up you are, and we were told the story of the ‘Grey Lady’ who was killed on her way to the theatre and is seen regularly sitting in her seat. 

An amazing history about how it started, and  its heyday throughout the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, then how it was nearly demolished in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and
saved by a group of local people who kept it going. The popular music pianist Russ Conway was also involved in helping to save the Hippodrome.  

A wonderful place and well worth a visit; a lot more can be found on their website. 

A big thank you to Graham and Sue Dickinson, who arranged the tour and then a buffet in the Crown and Anchor afterwards.

Chris and Heidi Speck.

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