Simon Thomas – Chairman: The Hippodrome is an extraordinary building. It’s been in the epicentre of London’s entertainment district for the last 110 years. And every thirty years or so, it’s been reinvented. It’s gone from the elephants to the Folies Bergère to the Talk of the Town to Stringfellows. And this is just the next level for the building.
Jimmy Thomas – President: The history of the place is so unique – going through theatre, going through the slumps and television coming in. It survived them all.
Paula Reason – Cadmium Architects The history of the building is very exciting. And it is history that’s consistently been about
innovation, entertainment, joy, excitement…
Jimmy Thomas When you’ve got people from the bomb squad sitting there waiting to find another unexploded bomb and they start telling you the tales of how many they find under London, you panic. Because you know one discovery of that sort, one piece of ancient Roman pottery, anything like that, could stop the work.
Simon Thomas I got the dreaded message, “call project manager urgently” So I phoned up David and said, “Ok what is it, break it to me”. And he said, “We’ve found a Rolf Harris”. Which wasn’t what I was expecting. He’d un-earthed, in one of the store rooms at the back, a large mural that Rolf had painted here in nineteen seventy four.
Peter Stringfellow It wasn’t and till I got involved with The Hippodrome that I looked into its history and its past and found that people like Charlie Chaplin had played there… Judy Garland… all these kind of people. During the renovation of the Hippodrome it was just full of weird and wonderful things. Right in the very, very top, there’s what’s known as a minstrels’ gallery. That had many stories attached. The first person to ever dive off it into a big pool waiting below. Some cyclist actually did it with one leg. It sounds stupid but this is the Hippodrome’s history.
Paula Reason Actually we were very lucky with the minstrels’ gallery because there was a false ceiling put in. A lot of the gallery elements do remain.
Jimmy Thomas It’s Beautiful. It’s undisturbed because it was boxed in very early. We saw this building not as a modern, flash casino. We saw it in its former glory.
Simon Thomas We want the splendour we want the grandeur. We want all of that sort of era represented. But then practically we have a lot of lateral space on the side and we can be quite contemporary on that. And obviously the challenge is to marry the two.
Peter Stringfellow It’s the most phenomenal position in the centre of the West End of London. I’m sure that Simon’s going to make it the greatest Casino in the UK.
Boris Johnson This is a quite stunning venue isn’t it. You’ve got every conceivable attraction that you could desire in a ‘James Bond style’ Casino. I have no hesitation, compunction, reservation in declaring this wonderful, new, refurbished revitalised, rejuvenated,restored, Hippodrome, Open!
Simon Thomas It’s not a Casino, it’s not a bar it’s not a restaurant. It’s everything. And people can go and pick which bit of the mix they want for their evening’s entertainment.
Peter Stringfellow It’s got a new life. Another spectacle.