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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 13:08 GMT
London nightclub faces uncertain future
Hippodrome
The Hippodrome first opened 100 years ago
London's most famous nightclub could be shut down because of moves to reduce crime and nuisance in Leicester Square.

The Hippodrome, which has played host to many star names, is applying for its licence to be renewed on Friday.

But police and local councillors want Westminster City Council Licensing Committee to reject the application.

They say all-night drinking, crime and anti-social behaviour is thwarting plans to turn the square into a continental-style piazza.

The Hippodrome opened in 1901 as an indoor circus, later becoming a music hall where Charlie Chaplin performed before going to Hollywood.

Show business legends Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland also played there.
Princess Diana dining there was probably the highest-profile night we ever had
Peter Stringfellow

After World War II, it reopened as a cabaret - Shirley Bassey made her West End debut there in 1959.

It was turned into a nightclub in 1983 by Peter Stringfellow who attracted stars like Freddie Mercury and Gary Glitter.

"In those six years I had it, the memories come one after the other," he told BBC London.

"Freddie Mercury, Frankie Goes To Hollywood when they first debuted. Wham! had their final party there when they split up.

"Princess Diana dining there was probably the highest-profile night we ever had."

Attract families

Even if the club's licence is renewed, its days may be numbered.

The building's owners have lodged a planning application to transform the site into shops, restaurants and offices with a smaller nightclub.

Westminster City Council wants to capitalise on the Square's existing reputation as an entertainment centre and attract families to its cinemas and nearby theatres.

It hopes that by encouraging open-air restaurants and cafes it can help solve the problems of drugs, crime and litter in the area.


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