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Here at the Hippodrome we're incredibly fortunate to have an amazing collection of materials that celebrate this historic variety theatre, and more importantly the people that have been a part of it's life. You'll find information here on our archive, along with the work to preserve and expand the collection.


Our Archive Collect​ion

Whilst we knew we had a lot of archive materials, it was a combination of events that lead us to realise the importance of the collection we had.  Maybe it was the donation of a suitcase of photographs from the family of a former performer at the Hippodrome, the discovery of the original printing blocks for programmes in the 1950's, perhaps the simple donation of a small vintage chocolate box containing treasured photographs and press clippings from the 1940's.  What we do know is that 2020 was a difficult year for many people but especially for a venue like the Hippodrome.  Lockdown took a heavy toll on Theatres and venues such as ours were amongst the last to be allowed to reopen to the public.  The closedown period did however give us the chance to really examine the archive materials we have and to realise the importance of small Variety Theatres to the communities in mill and market towns across the North West.  Here we'll share information with you on our efforts to preserve and expand the collection along with details on how we hope to make it more accessible. 

Our photograph collection

We have estimated that we have over 1000 photographs of performances at the Hippodrome.  Dating from the very first production in 1908, it is a collection that we're very proud of.  We've been working to identify the productions and name all the people shown in them.

Not just photographs

Our archive also includes many items other than photographs.  We're fortunate to have some of the original printing blocks for our posters and programmes dating back to the 1930's.  Some even have fire damage dating from when the Todmorden based printing firm had a serious fire but managed to rescue these items from the debris. 

As we work to digitise our Archive, we hope to share lots of images of our collection and include a search facility.  With items as varied as large scale posters and programmes to handheld props and set designs, this is going to be quite a challenge. Keep checking back for the latest updates and for news on any exciting developments and finds. 

How you can help our project

Donating items

If you have any items that you would be willing to donate to our archive then please get in touch.  As you can see from our Latest Donations and Finds sections, we would like anything that helps us piece together the history of the Hippodrome but also theatre and entertainment throughout the town.  

Donating your skills

Todmorden has many talented and skilled people living here and if you think you could help with our archive project then we'd love to hear from you.  Maybe you are able to preserve fragile 100 year old posters or have the patience to scan documents for us. Whatever your skill, we'd love to hear from you.

Financial support

A financial donation can make a big difference to our project, no matter the amount.  From purchasing plastic folders to store photographs to paying for cloud based storage and IT equipment, any financial donation will be put to good use.  Donations can also be made in memory of past members or others involved in the arts.  To make a donation please use the contact form below.

Latest Donations and Finds

A fabulous poster from 1917 has been donated and it's the first poster we have that shows Hippodrome and Electric Palace name which was adopted when the theatre was converted into a cinema in 1912.  The cinema owners continued to allow theatrical use with the amateur theatre groups being responsible for removing the screen and making sure it was installed again before the next screenings. 

A wonderful photo album was donated at the May Open Day with details of a Todmorden Amateur Dramatics Group we didn't know existed before now.  We hope our archive will be able to expand to include archive materials from all theatre and performance related groups in Todmorden

We have hundreds of books and scripts in our archive. Whilst examining one that we thought was just an old guide book, we discovered it was actually an item presented to the Todmorden Children's Theatre as an award from an event in 1956. We're planning to research the event and hope to be able to trace any surviving participants.  We'd love to get an oral history of the event. It's exciting to think about the other secrets that some of the many scripts and books we have may hold...!  


It was wonderful to welcome the Mayor and older members who are involved with the archives ,to join us to unveil our new archive display at the Hippodrome on the 28th October. The Timeline of the Archives and materials to preserve and display the archive collection have been supported with donations from Todmorden Town Council and The Community Foundation For Calderdale. Also on display was the growing number of archive boxes which currently have mainly the drama productions at present, with each photograph named and being stored in year order .

These members are helping keeping these actors and actresses names alive so that this important theatre history is not lost. All the photographs are now easy accessible to be viewed , bringing these amazing black and white photographs back to life.  Thank you everyone who attended and fantastic to have the support of our Mayor.
If you have anything you could contribute to the archive project, please contact our archivists Deborah and James by completing the form below.

Over 100 people attended our second Archive Open Day at the Hippodrome on the 13th May.  It was a great day with some really incredible donations to the archive.  The community support for our archive project is truly inspiring.  For details on some of the items donated, please see our Latest Donations and Finds section.

People also had the chance to see our plans for the future of the Hippodrome, including our new archive facilities. We're incredibly excited about our project so please read on for more information.

An award for our archivist

The Archive Open Day was also the perfect time to present an award to our Archivist Deborah.  She was presented with the Hubert Town Trophy which is given to recognise Outstanding Committment to TAODS.  Our connections with our wider theatre family are really important to us so it was lovely to have Geoffrey Town, Hubert Towns Son, at the event to present the trophy

Simply wonderful to see photographs of my mother and father in productions

from the 1950's and 60's. A glimpse of their life before us children came along!

Jane Williams - Todmorden


We have ambitious plans for our future

We believe that the archive we have is not just important locally, but also nationally.  Small Variety Theatres like the Hippodrome were an essential part of many small mill and market towns in the NorthWest.   They were an escape from the 'drudgery' of everyday life and a chance for local people to 'tread the boards'.  Whilst we want to celebrate the history of our venue, we also want to secure historical documents and information on other lost variety theatres.   We believe that the Variety Theatres are essential to understanding the social and economic life of towns such as ours. 

Our future plans will see us build an extension to the Hippodrome as part of an ambitious plan that recently received funding through the Todmorden Town Deal Scheme.  The extension will provide a permanent home for our archive, allowing it to be displayed and accessed more widely.  The archive will also form the basis of projects to keep variety theatre skills alive by running events and classes aimed at including all of our community in our wonderful history.

Contact Our Archive Team


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Thanks for submitting!

If you think you may have items for our archive then please do get in touch with us.  You can also get in touch if you'd like to help us with the project. 

Our Archivist Deborah would love to hear from you, whatever the enquiry.  

Until we have digitised everything it can be very difficult to search through our archive but we will try our best if you have a specific request for information.  

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