DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Sort file:- Dover, December, 2018.

Page Updated:- Thursday, 20 December, 2018.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Barry Smith and Paul Skelton

Earliest Mar 1910

(Name from)

Royal Hippodrome

Latest Sept 1944

33-34 Snargate Street

Dover

Painting 1928

Above painting 1928 showing the Royal Hippodrome (centre)and Northampton Street and the Wellington Docks.

Royal Hippodrome

Apart from the way the character of the old town or Dover was changed by the devastation wrought by bombing and shelling during the last war, one or the most lamented losses was that of the old Royal Hippodrome theatre. This popular entertainment spot - the spacious building extended from Snargate Street through to Northampton Street - was so badly damaged by enemy action that it had to be demolished after the war.

Royal Hippodrome

Victim of war

DOMINANT feature or Northampton Street and Snargate Street for many years was the Hippodrome theatre which underwent a number or name changes and, sadly, was destroyed almost by the last shell fired by the enemy's long range guns during the Second World War.

The late proprietor, Herbert Armstrong, bravely kept the theatre going right up until the fateful shell hit the building during a morning rehearsal in September 18, 1944. The unusual building on the left was occupied by W. Grognet, who made and repaired all kinds of theatrical, business and domestic wicker-work baskets and other goods.

The Hippodrome's shell was demolished in 1951. See below Express 19 January 1951.

 

Hippodrome 1941

Above photo showing HSL 142 up on the hard, being repaired in Wellington Dock after being shot up by an enemy aircraft at 16.00 hours on 3rd March 1941 when returning to base at Dover. After repair she was shipped ont to Gibraltar ASR base.

 

Built originally as "The Theatre Royal" in 1790 but at that time opening in the winter only. As the "Dover Theatre" or "Clarence Saloon" it was bought by Browning in 1858 who then featured concerts and ballets in the evenings. The name changed to "Gaiety Theatre" in 1875 and was bought by the brewers Kingsford and Company that year.

 

Known as the "Dover Theatre" when it was rebuilt in 1896 but as the "Dover Tivoli Theatre" when it reopened on 14 June 1897. The manager was Amand Mascard. The "Princess Alice" which had stood next door was swallowed by the new edifice, which did incorporate a bar of course, where the entertainers could be met during the interval. The former bar had been the "Clarence Tavern" and later, the "Hippodrome Bars" became just as popular.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 7 March, 1902. Price 1d.

THE CHILDREN'S SPECTACLE

Mr. S. Payn applied, on behalf of Mr. T. G. Transfield, for a licence to employ 56 children at the "Hippodrome" in a spectacular scene. The magistrates declined to grant the request. Opposition was offered by the Town Clerk, representing the School Attendance Committee.

 

 

By 1903, it was the "Theatre Royal," once more, but closed for extensive alterations in 1906. It next reappeared as the "Royal Hippodrome" reopening in March 1910. "The Palace and Hippodrome Southern" made its appearance in the Market Square the same year.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 24 April, 1914. Price 1d.

THE ROYAL HIPPODROME

Mr. J. T. Poole, the popular manager of the “Royal Hippodrome,” has this week another excellent variety programme for the patrons of the “Hippodrome,” the chief item on which Miss Mary Mayfrens Co., in “The Yellow Fang,” a dramatic and exciting episode of an opium den in Chinatown, San Francisco. It is full of dramatic and exciting scenes, and the different characters are well sustained by Mr. George Pickett, Mr. Laurence Osbourne, Mr. Alfred Fisher, Mr. A. Gordon Laws, Mr. Walter Finney and Miss Violet Campbell. The Two Sordinis give a splendid musical turn, and are loudly applauded. Capt. Spaulding, the wizard of fire, gives some marvellous exhibitions of fire eating. He bites ends off electrically heated carbons, pours molten lead into his mouth, and does several other things which would be fatal to the ordinary person. He also walks amongst the audience allowing people to put their cigars out on his tongue. Billy Marsden gives some delightful concertina tunes, and is very amusing with his patter. Miss Le Compt an American comedian, is very popular, as also is Miss may Poulton, another comedienne, whilst Billy Marsden is very funny, and causes roars of laughter in his latest successes.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 2 February, 1917.

RAPID EFFECT OF GIN

At the Dover Police Court on Saturday before Messrs. W. J. Barnes J. W. Bussey, and H. Hobday.

Selina Levy, of 19, Ladywell Place, was summoned for being drunk and incapable in Cannon Street.

Police-sergeant Popple said: At 10.30 p.m. on Saturday night I saw defendant helplessly drunk in Cannon Street, and had to convey her to the Police Station on an ambulance.

Defendant said that she was sober at 10 p.m., but she went to the “Hippodrome” and saw a friend of hers and she had a glass of gin which overcame her. She could not remember being conveyed to the Police Station.

A fine of 2s. 6d. was inflicted.

 

Dover Express 26th April 1918.

ROW AT THE HIPPODROME.

At the Dover Police Court on Tuesday before Messrs.. Edward Chitty (in the chair) and H. Hobday.

James Kinsella, a bluejacket, with having been drunk and disorderly and with refusing to quit licensed premises at “The Royal Hippodrome” and, further, with assaulting Police Sergt. Husk.

Police Sergt. Husk said that, at 9.30 p.m. he was on duty at the Royal Hippodrome and saw a disturbance near the emergency exit door of the “pit”. He found an attendant named Terry and P.C. Harman tried to get the prisoner and another sailor, who were drunk, to leave the premises. The prisoner said that he was Irish and not going to be put out, and became very rough and struck witness in the face. The other man was very violent and the P.C. took him away.

W. C. Terry, an attendant at the Hippodrome, said that the man became a nuisance in the pit and witness had to restrain him. At the pit door the prisoner struck the Sergeant and also P.C. Harman.

The Chief Constable said that the prisoner was absolutely mad when he came into the Police Station.

Fined 20s for drunkenness and 20s for the assault.

 

In Snargate Street, the proprietors by 1936 were North Britain Theatres Limited.

 

The theatre, including three bars and 35 Snargate Street had been sold on 22 July 1931 when the lease was 160 per annum.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 12 February, 1932. Price 1d.

THE HIPPODROME AS A THEATRE – LATEST PROPOSAL

It will be noted from our advertising columns that an effort is being made to form a local private limited liability company, with a nominal capital of 1,500, to acquire the remaining fourteen years' lease and run the property as a theatre. The promoter, Mr. F. L. Loveridge (who has resided in the Borough for some 30 years) thinks that Dover can and will rise to the occasion. He believes that if local capital and management were vested in the “Hippodrome,” interest would be around and people would rally round to make the place self supporting and enable it to show a reasonable return on the capital invested. It must be remembered that it means the employment of actors, actresses, musicians, and the usual personnel connected with the running of the theatre, who must, of necessity, spend their wages in the town.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 14 October, 1932. Price 1d.

HIPPODROME PARTY'S FATAL CRASH

A very sad accident happened on the Cheriton Road, Folkestone, soon after midnight on Saturday, when Miss Alma Peters, of Folkestone, who was accompanied by Lance-Corporal Carter, of the 2nd Battalion The Buffs, was knocked down by a motor-cycle, driven by John Arthur Crothall, of 29, Trimworth Road, Folkestone. A sequel to this was the finding of Lance-Corpl. Carter's body on the railway line at the Warren on Tuesday night, with the head severed.

The inquest on Miss Peters, conducted by Mr. G. W. Haines (Folkestone Borough Coroner) was held at the Town Hall, Folkestone, yesterday, (Thursday) afternoon. Mr. Medlicott, of Folkestone, appeared for Mr. Crothall.

The Coroner said that, unfortunately, the soldier would be unable to give evidence as his dead body had been found at the Warren, and Andrew Purdey, the pillion rider, also would be unable to give evidence as he was still ill in hospital, and was unable to remember anything about the accident.

Dr. I. E. Brookes, the Resident House Surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, said that death was due to a fractured skull and shock.

P.C. Farrier said that the road was very dark at the scene of the accident, which was opposite Martin Walter's motor works, on the Cheriton Road. The night was rough, and the roads wet. In a statement, Crothall said that he estimated his speed at 35 m.p.h. He was unable to see which way they were going so he pulled out to the middle of the road.

Mr. R. D. Walker, 328, Cheriton Road, Folkestone, said that he had a party of friends, which included Crothall and Purdey, went to the Hippodrome at Dover. He was driving a car, and Mr. Mazetti was driving a car, and Crothall, with Purdey as pillion passenger, was driving a motor-cycle. They arrived at Folkestone at about 11.45 p.m., and then went on to Cheriton and Newington. On their return they stopped at Trimworth Road to discharge some passengers, but Crothall went on. Mazetti and he followed later, and when they were near Martin Walter's they saw Crothall in the road signalling them to stop. The girl was lying in the middle of the road, and Purdey was lying in the gutter. Carter was supporting the girl.

In reply to the Coroner, witness said that none of the party had a drink all the evening.

The Coroner read a statement made by Lance-Corporal Carter to the Police, directly after the accident, in which he said that he was engaged to the deceased, and was returning from a dance at Cheriton. They were walking in the roadway to escape the rain-drops from the trees. He heard the sound of a motor-cycle coming behind, and he turned round and saw it was about 200 yards away. They gradually edged towards the curb, and he glanced round again and saw it was nearly on top of him, and before he could get out of the way it ran into them. Miss Peters was walking nearer to the curb.

Mr. Crothall, who is 20 years of age, said that he was a builder student. He was riding an Ariel 2-h.p. motor-cycle. As was his habit in the town he was only using his dim-lights, which only illuminated the road up to 12ft. in front of him. When he was opposite Martin Walter's, he saw two figures in front of him; he shut off his engine, and then there was a crash. Carter was running about the road and saying, “Where is she?”

In reply to the Coroner, he said that he was travelling at 30 miles per hour. He could pull up ion 30 yards on a wet road. He did not know whether he applied his brakes or not.

The Coroner, in his summing up, said that in the case of a driver who drove along a road at 30 m.p.h. and knew he could not pull up under 30 yards, it was not safe for such a person top hold a licence, for he held their lives in their hands.

The Jury returned a verdict that death was due to being run over by the motor-cycle, which was being negligently driven by Mr. Crothall. The negligence did not amount to manslaughter.

THE TRAGIC SEQUEL

The body of Lance-Corporal Carter was, on Tuesday night at 11.05 p.m., found in the 6ft way of the Southern Railway, near the Warren Station. His head was severed from the body. Lance-Corporal Carter was engaged to the dead girl, was very heart broken at her death. The body was removed to the “Valiant Sailor,” where Mr. R. Mowll, the East Kent Coroner, will hold an inquest to-day.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 14 October, 1932. Price 1d.

SUNDAY CONCERT AT THE HIPPODROME

At the Special Transfer Sessions, held at the Dover Police Court on Friday, before Messrs. W. J. Barnes, J. W. Bussey, W. Bradley, S. J. Livings, W. S. Lee, W. B. Brett and W. L. Law.

Mr. W. Rice applied on behalf of the “Royal Hippodrome” for a licence for music and singing on Sundays, during the winter months, as he had had several applications from local bands, etc., to give concerts there. The programmes would be thoroughly discreet, and he was prepared to give a certain amount to charity, as might be decreed, including the Mayor's Fund and the Hospital. He produced letters from Betteshanger Colliery Welfare Silver Band, and the Deal and District Cymric Male Voice Choir of 33 voices.

The Chairman said they did not want comic songs, but there was no objection to nice singing.

The allocation was granted, the hours being from 6 till 10 p.m., and provided that the bars were closed.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 10 March, 1933. Price 1d.

HOW THE HIPPODROME HELPS EMPLOYMENT

(To the Editor of the Dover Express.)

Sir, - The recent production of “The Belle of New York” at the “Royal Hippodrome” gave the writer, as one of the performers, a first-hand opportunity of viewing the organisation and staff necessary to conduct the theatre. Our week was a particularly happy one, and, viewed from all angles, perhaps the outstanding characteristic was the cleanliness and comfort of the theatre, allied for the whole-hearted support of the proprietor and his very energetic staff. It can now be mentioned that the dress rehearsal had to be abandoned on Monday afternoon owing to alteration of scenery, and it says much for the loyalty of the staff when I state that they worked solidly for twelve hours, without a break for food, to ensure that the stage would be ready for the first night's performances. I was surprised to find, and I am sure your readers will be surprised to read, that the “Hippodrome” provides employment for approximately thirty persons. This presents the permanent local employees, to which must be added the articles providing the weekly programme, making a total employment of about 45 persons. The total wages or salaries list artists work out at anything up to 250 per week, the bulk of which circulates in Dover. With these facts before us, it must be admitted that the “Hippodrome” is a decided asset to the town, yet on a recent visit I was distressed to find that the attendance was painfully small. Why is it? The theatre is cosy and warm; the staff always cheerful, and the programmes quite good. I saw among last week's performance two turns who could hold their own at the London Palladium, yet with such material on show the house could not be considered good. I received a circular a short time ago with some very sound Rotarian suggestions for reducing employment, emphasising the importance of spending just that little bit extra on the house, clothes, business premises, etc., all with one object in view – the retention of men in their present employment. I whole-heartedly agree with the idea, and as it is generally agreed that entertainment forms part of our national life, I want to appeal to the townspeople of Dover that they make a strong effort to spend at least, a part of their amusement money in support of the Hippodrome, thus ensuing that the many employees retain their employment. Now, Dover, what about it? Please believe that I have no personal interest in this matter, neither am I a publicity booster for the proprietor.

Snifkins.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News. Friday 24 June, 1938.

NO TRUTH IN HIPPODROME CLOSURE RUMOURS

There has been a rumour in Dover recently that the Royal Hippodrome is to close at an early date owing to the proposed Snargate Street improvement, but this is quite untrue. In answers to enquiries, Mr. Armstrong, Managing Director of the Hippodrome, says that he has not yet even been approached as to terminating his lease, which has several years to run. Naturally, rumours of an early closure are very damaging to the Hippodrome from a business point of view. Future bookings have been made, in fact, as far ahead as the Christmas pantomime, which will be "Cinderella," starting on Boxing Day. Coming closer to the present moment, next weeks Chapmans' Royal Bengal Circus will be at the Hippodrome; the following week will see "The Ovaltinies"; and a week later Dorothy Holbrook's "Hussar Band." A very good booking has been made for the week beginning July 27th, when Nellie Wallace is to come to the Hippodrome. These few samples of the attractions to come are one of the best refutations of the rumour as to closing. The Hippodrome has improved under Mr. Armstrong's management during the last two years in a degree not generally realised. There was a time when people went out of Dover for theatrical shows. To-day conditions are reversed, and visitors from Folkestone and Deal form part of the regular clientle of the Hippodrome.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 12 August, 1938. Price 1d.

THE HIPPODROME

Hughie Green's latest production “Stars of To-morrow,” comes to the “Hippodrome” next week. His latest discoveries to be seen will be George Formby's young sister, Ethel, with her uke' and songs; also Joey Hopkinson, the boy comedian from the new film “Melodyand Romance” and Britain's young Joe E. Brown.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 7 October, 1938. Price 1d.

A HIPPODROME ANNIVERSARY

The “Hippodrome” next week is celebrating the second anniversary of its re-opening of the Theatre under Mr. Armstrong's proprietorship, and he is to be heartily congratulated on the perseverance he has shown in making the Theatre what it is today. In October, 1936, he arrived in Dover and shared in a partnership which, however, was dissolved in the following march, since when Mrs. Armstrong and he have had joint control. Thanks to Mr. Armstrong's determination to improve the standard of entertainment provided and raise the tome of the Theatre, it is to-day considered to be one of the best in the provinces. The condition and position of Snargate Street has by no means helped in this resuscitation, though even that has not prevented the Theatre from becoming widely patronised. There are many who have never been inside the Theatre owing to its position, but those who have, have been amply rewarded and a very large number have become weekly patrons. In addition to drawing on Dover it is noteworthy that large numbers visit the Theatre from Folkestone, Deal, Canterbury and the surrounding districts. As will be seen from the advertisement, there is an attractive programme for next week, and in addition special gifts will be presented to members of the audience throughout the week.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News. 13 January 1939.

The last of three pantomimes will be staged next week, when Frank Roy presents the popular pantomime, "Dick Wittington and his Cat." "Idle Jack" will be played by the young Yorkshire commedian, Leslie Gunby, and the "cook" by Al. Almont; "Alice Fitzwarren" by Shirley Winter, and "Fitzwarren" by Roy Raymond. The principal boy, Margaret Marsh, is an excellent "Dick Wittington," and Maurice Sanger, the "cat." Matinees will be held on Wednesday and Saturday, with special prices for children.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News. 20 November 1942.

POPPY DAY, DOVER'S FINE EFFORT

It was reported that the "Hippodrome" raised the sum of 8 8s. 2d. for the Poppy Fund of 1942.

 

 

The theatre carried on, 'Windmill' fashion, during world war two but was forced to close in September 1944 and on the 25th of that month a shell from France took off the roof and part of one side. Tremendous efforts were made post war to effect repairs and reopen. "The Hippodrome Bars" dispensing meanwhile from amongst the rubble. Compulsory purchase was the order of the day however and the closure there came in August 1950.

 

 

Dover Express 28th June 1946.

THREE MEN FOR TRIAL. HIPPODROME BURGLARY.

At Dover on Friday before Mr. W. J. Pudney, presiding.

James Joseph Dillon, aged 25, of Seven Star Street Flats, a labourer, Edward Alexander Clithero, 20, of Snargate Street, a miner, and Roy Harkett, 19, of Caroline Place, a miner, were charged with, on June 8th, breaking and entering the Royal Hippodrome bar and stealing a wireless set, wine, rum, whisky, gin, cigars and cigarettes, valued at 31 5s 6d.

PC Bowers said that, at 1.30 a.m. on June 9th, he was called to a disturbance at 7, Caroline Place, where he found Clithero lying on the kitchen floor drunk. Dillon was also there and had been drinking. Witness saw four bottles, whisky, gin, rum and wine. Dillon said “I have had a good evening and its cost me 12 for this stuff and the beer. We’ve been celebrating. It’s my sister’s birthday.”

DC Wright said in response to a telephone message to the police from Mrs. Edith Catherine Scott, manageress of the Hippodrome bars, reporting the burglary, he went to the Hippodrome at 7.20 p.m. on June 9th and, examining the premises, found access had been gained by means of a window on the first floor at the rear of the building in Northampton Street. At 8.20 the same evening, he went to 142 Snargate Street where he saw Dillon and Clithero. He searched the premises and found bottles of whisky and port, whereupon Clithero handed him a packet of cigarettes, saying “Jimmy gave them to me last night” referring to the cigarettes, whisky and port. Witness said that he would take defendants to the Police Station, but, outside the building, Dillon broke away. When he was eventually caught in the gardens at the rear of Cambridge Terrace, he said “Give me a razor and I’ll finish myself off”. After Dillon had been taken to the police station, witness returned to 142 Snargate Street for Clithero, who said “I’ll show you where we put the wireless set” and took witness to a bombed house where the set was concealed. Returning again to the house in Snargate Street, witness saw Harkett, who admitted having cigars, gin and wine in the house. He too was taken to the police station where he made a statement in which he said that, on the Saturday night at about 11 o’clock, he went with the other two defendants to the back of the Hippodrome. He bunked Jimmy (meaning Dillon) up to the window and the stuff was thrown down to him. Clithero also made a statement in which he admitted keeping a watch while Dillon was obtaining entry. Dillon stated that, after they had taken the stuff, they went to Harkett’s house for a drink. Harkett “passed out” at about 12.30 and Clithero at about 12.45. He stayed awake all night and, the following day, went fishing, when he threw some of the stuff over the side.

Defendants were committed for trial at the Dover Quarter Sessions on July 15th, Dillon in custody and Clithero and Harkett on bail.

 

The man named Dillon with 7 previous convictions although he pleaded that he had some kind of mental illness, he got 6 months in July 1946. In May 1947 he was back in court with a soldier charged with breaking into Burtons. They were sent for trial.

 

Dover Express 19th July 1946.

Dover Quarter Sessions.

The Hippodrome Burglary.

James Joseph Dillon, aged 23, of Seven Star Street Flats, cabinet maker, Roy Harkett, 18, miner, of 7 Caroline Place, and Edmund Alexander Clithero, aged 21, miner, of 142 Snargate Street, pleaded guilty to breaking and entering the "Royal Hippodrome" on Tuesday June 8th and stealing a five valve wireless set, bottles of port wine, whisky and other articles value 31. 5s 6d the property of Mr. H. R. Armstrong.

Mr. Maxwell J. H. Turner appeared for the prosecution and Mr. Wilson Price for Dillon.

Mr. Turner said that, on the night of June 8th somebody broke into the premises of the Hippodrome by tearing away the first-aid repair covering of a window and thus gaining access to the bar. About 1.30 the following morning, PC Bowers was called to a disturbance at 7 Caroline Place, where he found Clithero lying on the floor, drunk, and Dillon, who had also been drinking. There were bottles of gin, rum and whisky about and Dillon said “I have had a good evening. This lot cost me 12. The following afternoon it was found that the Hippodrome had been broken into and this property was missing. Later, the Police saw Dillon and Clithero at 142 Snargate Street. Dillon was arrested and, on the way to the Police Station, he ran away, but was recaptured after a chase. He then said “Give me a razor and I’ll finish myself off”. Clithero was also arrested and, on the way to the Police Station, he said “I’ll show you where we put the wireless set” and took them to a war-damaged house, where the set was found. When the third defendant was seen, he produced some cigars and a bottle of gin, part of the proceeds of the burglary. Altogether 21. 14s 1d worth of stolen property had been recovered. In their statements the accused all said the same ---- that Dillon went in through the window while the others waited outside. Clithero said he was keeping watch. Mr. Turner mentioned that Harkett, after being committed for trial on this charge, was arrested in London and sentenced to 14 days hard labour for being a suspected person loitering with intent commit a felony.

DC Wright stated that Dillon had seven previous convictions, mostly for larceny and looting, the last being 3 years Borstal treatment for two cases of looting. He served two years in the army and was discharged on medical grounds. He was released from Borstal in February this year and had followed no employment since. He had tried to get employment on a sea-going vessel. Harkett had two previous convictions, including the one mentioned by Mr. Turner. He was a married man with one child and had been employed at Snowdown Colliery since leaving school. He was a brother-in-law of Dillon. Clithero was also married and had one child. He was directed into the mining industry in 1941 and was released in May on medical grounds, being at present unemployed.

Mr. Hartley Horsfield, the Probation Officer, stated that, as long as Harkett worked on the shift with his father, he did well, but, since his marriage, he had not been working regularly and his record had deteriorated. With regard to the offence in London, Harkett stated that he hitch-hiked to London and had not been there many hours and was looking for somewhere to sleep when he was arrested. They said he had been trying a door. Clithero was the most intelligent of the three men. It seemed that the collieries had undermined his health. He had been having rather a difficult time because of ill health.

Mr. Wilson Price submitted that there was some grounds for the view that Dillon’s behaviour in this case and his past record was partly the result of some mental state from which he was suffering. He was discharged from the Army after having been seen by a psychiatrist spending some months in a mental hospital. He was not granted a pension and that rather made him feel that he was being treated unfairly and did not tend to help his position. Having regard to all the circumstances and to the fact that this escapade took place on the night of the Victory celebrations, this was a case which might be dealt with as somewhat out of the ordinary and perhaps treat Dillon rather more leniently than his previous record might normally allow.

Clithero stated that he committed the offence because he was very hard up and the doctor at the clinic had told his wife it would be best for the health of their child if it was taken away from Dover for a few weeks for a change of air.

Mrs. Clithero, called by her husband, gave similar evidence.

The Deputy Recorder said she was taking into account the fact that this was Victory night and also bearing in mind that it was an isolated offence and not one of a series. But, in the case of Dillon, there was the very serious feature which she could not overlook ---- that he had only been released from Borstal on February 27th. In the circumstances, he would have to go to prison for six months. She had been seriously considering whether she ought not to send Harkett to a Borstal Institution, but had decided to bind him over for two years. Clithero, too, would be given a chance to live this down and would be placed on probation under Mr. Horsfield for two years.

 

Dover Express 16th May 1947.

We regret to record the death, which took place suddenly at Dundee on Wednesday, of Mr. H. R. Armstrong who for many years was manager of the "Royal Hippodrome." Throughout the war, he kept this place of entertainment open and received national publicity because of it. It was a stroke of misfortune that, in the last weeks of shelling, the building was hit. It has been closed since. For some time afterwards, Mr. Armstrong managed the Pleasure Gardens Theatre, Folkestone.

 

Dover Express 30th May 1947.

THE LATE MR. H. R. ARMSTRONG.

The interment of the ashes of Mr. Herbert Roberts Armstrong, whose death occurred at Dundee on May 14th after only a short illness, took place at St. Mary’s Cemetery on Thursday last week. Mr. Armstrong who, only three weeks before his death, had taken over the managership of the "Palace Theatre," Dundee, will be especially remembered by many who remained in Dover throughout the war years for his untiring efforts to provide variety shows at the "Royal Hippodrome," which he managed with great success for twelve years. It was not until the last week of enemy shelling, when the Hippodrome received a direct hit from a shell, that the building was finally closed.

One who had known Mr. Armstrong for many years, writes of him: On Thursday 22nd May, at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Dover, we said farewell to Herbert Roberts Armstrong, late proprietor of the "Royal Hippodrome Theatre." He passed away as he would have wished – in harness – for he had become the manager of the "Palace Theatre," Dundee. A chill caused an attack of bronchial pneumonia which proved fatal. His valiant efforts to keep the "Hippodrome Theatre" providing entertainment during the war years will not be forgotten. In all walks of life, many people have lost a friend.

 

Dover Express 20th June 1947.

Town, Port & Garrison.

An application for the transfer of the licence of the "Royal Hippodrome" from Herbert Roberts Armstrong deceased to Mrs. Annie Rosina Armstrong of 103 Maison Dieu Road, was granted by the Dover Magistrates on Friday.

Royal Hippodrome showing war damage

The Royal Hippodrome showing the war damage. By kind permission of Dover Library.

Royal Hippodrome 1947

Above photo after 1947. Kindly sent by Paul Wells.

 

Perhaps Fremlin at the finish but for many years an out let of George Beer and Rigden. Sad to say, in 1990, nothing to compare - if ever that was possible has materialised.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 13 October, 1950.

Hippodrome demolition 1950

TRANSFORMING SNARGATE STREET

Demolition work is practically completed of the property on the seaward side of Snargate Street from the old bethel Corner as far as the Hippodrome. The contract for he Hippodrome's removal has been let, and work is expected to begin shortly.

 

From the Dover Express, 19 January 1951.

End of Hippodrome

"BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE"

FOR THE LAST TIME.

As workmen were pulling down the main wall of the Hippodrome by means of the wire hawsers attached to a winch, tons of masonry and brickwork, which should have fallen inside the remains of the building, collapsed across Northampton Street early on Monday afternoon.

The first picture, taken only just over an hour before, shows the wall before its collapse. The wires can be seen coming from the windows and going over the top of the wall. In the second picture workmen clear away the rubble, while lorries and cars detour along part of the quayside.

Hippodrome 1951

From the Dover Express, 13 April 1951

Another Hippodrome Memory

Mrs. Vallat, of 118, Framfield Road, Hanwell, W.7., in a Ietter to the Editor, writes:-

"I see our old friend, the 'Express,' has raised it's price; but, anyway, it's worth it. There is more news in it than in any London newspaper. I always look it right through, and know the devastation through bombing and demolition. One thing I noticed Particularly was the taking down of the old Clarence Theatre, as it was called when I was young.

"It was on that stage that I first appeared, as one of the 92nd Highlander's who relieved Cawnpore in the Indian Mutiny. There were about 50 little girls dressed in kilts-with guns and all -and we marched over a high bridge, back-stage, to the tune of 'Blue Bonnets over the Border' and 'The Campbell's are Coming.' Then we went in to kill the sepoys-all the bangs made back-stage-and we carried off the dead bodies (all blacks) and came in again as reinforcements.

"Ah, those were the days. How we all enjoyed two performances nightly. How sorry I was when it was all over. I think we were paid three or tour shillings a week. I can't think how I was then. I wonder if anyone I else remembers those days and the plays-'Uncle Tom's Cabin' and all the sensational dramas, and the Scotch and Irish comedians.

"I loved the stage, and when they were engaging girls for the pantomime, I used to go every day to see if there was a vacancy. How disappointed I was, as I wasn't a dancer then.

 

Hippodrome plaque

Above plaque showing the Hippodrome position.

 

LICENSEE LIST

BROWNING Benjamin 1858-72

WARE George 1877 (Gaiety)

HOLFORD E W 1909-10

POOLE J T or T J 1914-16 end

HOWARD S P 1918

TINDELL H 1923

McDONALD William 1923-Feb/29 Next pub licensee had Dover Express (Manager)

RAYMOND H G Dec/1926-33 and Dover Express

WINTER Mrs Florence A Dec/1926-28 dec'd Dover Express

PEACHEY George Wyatt 1928-33

DUNBAR A D 1929

ALLEN R 1930

RAYMOND & PEACHY Messrs to Sept/1932 Dover Express

RICE Wally Sept/1932+ Dover Express

ARMSTRONG H Roberts 1933 and 1936-45

POWELL H 1934

LOVERIDGE Thomas (Fred) Langdon 1934-Jan/36 Dover Express

MARTIN Wilfred (Sec. Messrs. George beer & Rigden) Jan-Dec/1936 Dover Express

ARMSTRONG H Roberts (Manager North Britain Theatres Ltd.) Dec/1936-June/47 dec'd Dover Express

ARMSTRONG Mrs Annie Rosina June/1947-Aug/48 Pikes 48-49

PHILLIPS Hebden 1948

RUFF Ernest Frederick Aug/1948 (Secretary of Messrs. George Beer and Rigden, the management to be placed in the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Francis) Dover Express

Last pub licensee had FRANCIS Horace Aug/1948-50 Dover Express

 

From an email received 4 April 2010.

I am unsure if the bits of information I am sending are of any significance, but having found this website, I am keen to share the few family stories I have which relate to the pubs mentioned in and around the Dover area.

My knowledge of the Hippodrome relates to Mr and Mrs Armstrong, both of whom it appears ran the Hippodrome at some time during the the years leading up to and after the Second World War. Although my Dover family were evacuated to Wales during the war and didn't ever return to Dover to live, my parents used to take my brother and I down to Dover from Birmingham to visit remaining family members there in the 1950s and 60s. One of my great uncles lived in the basement at 9 Cambridge Terrace (most recently offices for the Dover Harbour Board). His friend used to be a cobbler and could be seen in the window (looking down over the railings) mending shoes...we used to be fascinated watching him with a mouthful of tacks which he spat out accurately as he nailed down the soles of the shoes he was repairing. The rear of the property stands behind the gates alongside the car park leading to De Bradlei Wharf.....but I digress!

Mrs Armstrong, who by then was widowed, was their landlady at 9 Cambridge Terrace in the 1950s and although to me as a youngster in those days she was a person who was spoken about but never seen, in later years, as a result of circumstances, my husband and I got to meet this once, very grand, old lady. By the early 1970s she was living in a room (possibly rooms) in one of the old Hotels in Folkestone with all her possessions in a few battered old trunks. One day we were taken to visit her. She was a wonderful old lady, probably in her 90s, full of tales of a very exciting, rich and varied life. I only wish I had listened more attentively. It seems that her husband had worked for BP Oil in it's early days and as a result he travelled quite extensively. It seems that she too, on occasions, travelled with him and she proudly told us of her exploits to the Middle East. She was apparently the first white woman to travel to Persia in 1921. She relayed tales of living in a tented camp, where she was escorted everywhere. There were just a few yards of asphalted track-ways around the camp and she was not allowed to go anywhere at all after dark. Somewhere or other, in I think it was in an early Sunday Times magazine, there is a photograph of Mrs Armstrong with T E Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia - when she was out in Persia. She told of the occasions when she met him. Amongst her possessions in her few old battered trunks were the most incredible collections of things she had bought back from her travels - given that they may have been living in the Hippodrome when it was bombed, it was amazing that they survived. The one thing that stands out in my memory was a pair of the most delicate tall slender vessels in a fine blue glass. She said they had come from the Wailing Wall and were called Tear Vases. It was apparently into these that the Wailing Women of Babylon collected their tears.

We heard that when she died a couple of years afterwards in her mid to late 90s. Her possessions were taken to London to be auctioned at one of the big Auction Houses. When these vases, which were expected to get a high price because they were a pair, were being unwrapped for display, one of them was dropped and smashed beyond recognition! Thank goodness I didn't drop them when I was allowed to hold and study them!

The link with her continued with through a rather strange connection we had as a family to the older 'Gay' community in Dover in the 1960s and 70s.... my great uncle - a lovely kind gentle man, lived with his gentleman companion (the cobbler) in Cambridge Terrace. My grandmother received a letter from him in the mid 1960s asking her to go down to Dover to help his friend nurse him, as he was dying of cancer. She naturally ran to her brother's side and attended to him in his final weeks. After that 'the Boys' as she always called his group of close friends, rallied round in gratitude and she almost became one of their own. As she was widowed and living alone she got taken on holidays with them and spent weeks on end staying in Dover and visiting their friends and haunts (the "White Horse" at the bottom of Castle Hill being their local as they lived in Victoria Park). Mrs. Armstrong was often spoken of and seemed to be part and parcel of this group (several of whom had interests in antiques and objects of interest!) When my husband and I got married we too were welcomed down to stay with them in Victoria Park, on a couple of occasions taking my nan with us. It was during one of these visits that we finally met Mrs. Armstrong. You can read what you like into all of this, but a nicer, kinder group of people you couldn't have wished to meet... my husband and I were alarmed to say the least to discover the living arrangements (young, naive couple that we were!) and my nan, bless her, to her dying day did not know that they were all 'Nancy Boys' as she'd have called them!

So, how or why she and her husband would have come from such an exotic life to returning to Dover to run the Hippodrome, seems to be quite a change of circumstances and fortune. As far as I know, they had no children, but I believe their were a couple of nieces who may well have benefited from the sale of her wonderful treasures in the 1970s.

 

Margaret Francis.

 

 

Pikes 48-49From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1948-49

Dover ExpressFrom the Dover Express

 

If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-

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