Artisan Plastercraft is currently undertaking restoration of the decorative plaster theatre ceiling at Grade II* listed Brighton Hippodrome.
Described by the Theatres Trust as “The UK’s most architecturally significant circus theatre – the finest surviving example of its type in the country.” It has been on the Theatres at Risk Register since it closed in 2006. Artisan Plastercraft is operating both on-site and in our London workshop to preserve, restore and recreate the amazing plasterwork that adorns walls and ceilings of this historied venue.
Brighton Hippodrome was originally conceived as an ice rink back in 1897, but in 1901 it was converted into a circus, designed by renowned architect Frank Matcham, before being redesigned again as a theatre the following year by Bertie Crewe. The Hippodrome has played host to a variety of stars, including illusionist Harry Houdini, comedians Laurel and Hardy, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Unfortunately, the venue was forced to close due to financial difficulties in 1964 and was reopened as a Mecca Bingo hall in 1967, before closing again in 2006.
The owners of the building, Matsim Properties, are one of Brighton & Hove’s largest commercial freeholders. They purchased the building in September 2020 and have committed to reopening the venue in November 2024 to coincide with the 60th anniversary of its closure (as a performance venue).
Please also check out the beautiful shell moulding from the venue in our article on Restoring Theatre Architecture Plaster Mouldings.
Suspended ceiling restoration
Barrel ceiling section – workshop
This large area of theatre ceiling decoration is being restored in our workshop. Once complete it will be used to create a mould for new fibrous plaster casts to restore the circular auditorium ceiling.
These images show a section of damaged plaster from the venue and the plaster model made to recreate it.
This sequence shows how one ceiling enrichment was recreated for the theatre auditorium in our workshop.
Oculus – in situ restoration
To restore parts of the Brighton Hippodrome Oculus, we took rubber moulds of existing enrichments to cast fibrous plaster repair sections that could be fixed and blended in.
The Brighton Hippodrome has an enthusiastic following and news of its restoration and relaunch is generating local and national news coverage. More information about the building, its history and progress back to becoming an open public performance venue can be found HERE.
For more information on historic plasterwork inspection surveys and reports see our Fibrous Plaster Ceiling Surveys page.