Hippodrome Cinema

48 Church Place,
Lurgan, BT66 6HD

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Previous Names: Lurgan Theatre

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Hippodrome Cinema

In Lurgan, County Armagh, the Hippodrome was built in the 1890’s by a farmer, Sammy Hewitt, who lived in nearby Silverwood and whose family owned a lot of land in the area. At some time (possibly from 1913) films were presented along with live performances (it is not known whether this became a full-time cinema). Unfortunately, the building was badly damaged by fire in the early-1930’s and the entertainment activities ceased. (Caretaker John Donnelly was said to have been so upset about the fire that his hair turned from black to white the very next day!).

Billy Hanna had a stall downstairs and an ice-cream parlour upstairs (where bizzarely, there was also a fish & chip shop!). At some time the upstairs was converted into the Lurgan Theatre, with 54 tip-up seats, acquired following a re-fit to an (unspecified) cinema. Many plays were produced by prominent local figure Wolsey Gracey, a teacher at Clounagh School in Portadown.

The theatre closed in 1962, but the market stalls continued downstairs until 1975, when the building was acqured by solicitor Barry Campbell. He used the upper floor, while the ground floor became a toy shop named The Pillars, before becoming a fashion shop and then a branch of Sean Graham, bookmakers. Barry Campbell died in December 2018. When I visited the town, in August 2019, unfortunately after ‘office hours’, the building was shuttered and appeared to be disused (Bookmaker Sean Graham now operates from Union Street and Moores Lane).

Contributed by David Simpson
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