131 High Street, Colchester, CO1 1SP


Accessibility: Side door can be opened with level access to street and waiting for cars. Many carparks in town centre.

An Edwardian horseshoe theatre with proscenium arch, two balconies and an extravagant cartouche baroque ceiling in the shape of a scallop, currently used by the younger Colchester citizens as a nightclub, but taken over a couple of times a year by Roman River Music to host live music.

It has a fantastic natural acoustic and some unusual lighting.

The Theatres Trust calls it ‘An exceptionally fine example of a medium sized Edwardian theatre’. Built in 1905 by local architect J W Start, it was later altered into to a cinema, then a mixed-use leisure centre and finally in 1995 the Hippodrome nightclub, whose neon sign dominated Colchester’s high street for 20 years.

Interior of the Grand Variety Theatre, now liquid nightclub

Interior of the Grand Variety Theatre, now liquid nightclub

Despite extensive alteration inside, the intimate auditorium has the original curved balconies, partly supported on slender cast iron columns, although the second balcony is now filled with an impressive lighting system for the nightclub. The proscenium is richly decorated with foliated plasterwork. The building was grade II listed in 1985, “because of the importance of the surviving theatre auditorium and galleries.”

Some seats will not have a perfect view, which is why the ticket prices are comparatively low.

Nightclub-style refreshments will be available from the club’s bar.