Stan Laurel’s daughter joins fight to save Dudley theatre
The daughter of one of the greatest double acts ever has pledged her support for a campaign to save Dudley Hippodrome from demolition.
Dudley council which bought the former theatre in 2010 wants to demolish it and replace it with a 120-space car park as part of the regeneration of the Castle Hill area. English Heritage and the Theatres Trust are opposing the plans.
Lois Laurel Hawes, daughter of Hollywood star Stan Laurel, who played the Hippodrome with his comedy partner Oliver Hardy, says it would be a “tragedy and a terrible shame” if that happened.
“I say that not only because my father and other famous stars appeared there, but it would deprive the area of such a wonderful boost to the community.”
Miss Laurel Hawes, who lives in the US, wrote to the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome pledging her support.
The Friends want to reopen the 1,700-seat theatre as a community arts venue and for touring productions.
She added, “I am very impressed by the exciting plans for the future of the building which can make something the people of Dudley will be really proud of and add something that would attract many visitors to the town.
“Dudley councillors have a great opportunity to make this happen. Please do not make the same mistake as many others have done by ignoring this important part of the area's heritage.”
The 1938 art deco building welcomed stars such as Bob Hope, Morecambe and Wise and Cliff Richard in its heyday.
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition objecting to the Hippodrome’s demolition.
The Friends have had discussions with council officers and presented the authority with a business plan. The council has said it will seriously consider the Friends’ proposals before it makes a decision whether to demolish the building.
Campaigners estimate repairs would cost about £2million while extra money would have to be found for improvements to the interior.
The Friends have called in experts to help them assess what improvements need to be made.