CAMPAIGNERS have spent years raising money towards rebuilding a huge chunk of Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal.
Now at long last work on the backlot of the building, which was destroyed in a fire in 1972, can get going because all the funding is in place.
Dressed in hard hats and luminous jackets, community leaders came together at the theatre in Guildhall Walk last night to celebrate the beginning of the new £4m project.
The team, which included Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Frank Jonas, threw bits of old wood into a skip to show that the theatre’s past can now be left behind.
Cllr Jonas said: ‘This has been long awaited. It’s a great day for everyone involved.’
The ‘Make your Mark’ event was open to guests and they were given glasses of champagne as they walked into the theatre on a red carpet. There was also a variety show with performances from singer Andrew Foster, local choir group Spinnaker Chorus and students from Southzone Dance Academy, Highbury College and the University of Portsmouth. Anne Burrill, who is a trustee of the theatre, said: ‘We have been waiting a long time for this moment.
‘This has been our way of saying thank you to all of those who have supported us.’
A huge board in the dress circle on which people have written their memories of the theatre will become part of the new building, which will partly be used by the university’s performing art students. Work is due to begin in the next couple of weeks once a contractor has been assigned to the job.