The Hippodrome in Print

The Hippodrome in Print

This exhibition celebrates the work of Arthur Hughes from The Art Shop in Darlington: from renting studio space in 1939, opening ‘ART’ arts and craft shop in 1947 in Northgate, then Duke Street in the 1960’s and now the current premises in the 1980’s. Arthur Hughes created a variety of posters, placards and silk-screen printings for numerous businesses in and around Darlington.  From the early 1950s until the mid 1980s The Art Shop supplied Darlington Hippodrome with posters and the special bus cards which you can see in the exhibition today.

The screen-printed posters would have been displayed around the town in bus shelters, or in the poster cases on the front of the theatre; they showcase the range of shows at the Hippodrome (or Civic Theatre as it would become in the 1960s) including the annual Darlington Scouts Spotlight on the Gang variety show, productions by national companies and orchestras as well as the popular musicals by local amateur groups Shildon and District Amateur Operatic Society and Darlington Operatic Society.

The bus cards - the smaller, rectangular cards were designed to fit in special panels inside the buses: these would be changed weekly as the different shows arrived in Darlington or could be used to advertise large productions ahead of time such as the Pantomime.

All the bus cards and the majority of the posters were designed and screen-printed by Arthur Hughes and his staff, using stencils: the stencils would be hand drawn and cut, with the various inks and paints layered over the paper to create the mix of fonts and colours.  This collection has been lent to the Hippodrome by the current owner and Arthur’s son Ian Hughes.

On the white wall the exhibition also features some of the earlier Darlington Operatic Society posters, which have been donated by the Society: the Society’s posters were printed by a Bishop Auckland based company and on several you are able to see the hand painted additions and alterations.

Darlington Hippodrome’s archive have also supplied several of the programmes relating to the shows advertised on the posters and cards.  The programmes show the variation in design and the evolution of the name and branding of the Theatre throughout the mid20th century.

Darlington Hippodrome would like to thank Ian Hughes at The Art Shop for the loan of his father’s, ‘Arthur Hughes’ collection, and Darlington Operatic Society for their donation of vintage programmes and posters.