Portsmouth Guildhall wins £59,000 Lottery grant to look at its history

Portsmouth Guildhall after it was destroyed by German bombs in 1941
Portsmouth Guildhall after it was destroyed by German bombs in 1941

OVER 128 years its been the town hall, bombed during The Blitz on Portsmouth and played host to future music legends like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Now Portsmouth Cultural Trust, which runs the Guildhall, has announced it has won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £59,000 to create a new project tracing the building’s full history, Discovering the Guildhall.

Queen Elizabeth opening the rebuilt Portsmouth Guildhall in 1959

Queen Elizabeth opening the rebuilt Portsmouth Guildhall in 1959

Starting in September, the project, working with a steering group which includes The Portsmouth Music Experience, The University of Portsmouth and The Portsmouth History Centre, will preserve its defining moments before they are lost, in a digital archive which will be available to everyone. 

Two short documentary films will be created and the project will conclude with a major two month exhibition at the Guildhall in 2020.

A series of workshops will also be held in local schools, community centres and care homes, with the aim of engaging with residents of all ages. And  the trust wants to recruit a team of volunteers, offering research visits to other heritage sites and museums and the chance to develop new skills in archiving, curation, film-making and tour guiding.

Learning and participation manager for the trust, Hayley Reay said: ‘We’re hoping to engage with thousands of people, and that’s what the HLF money will enable us to do. We want to make a big deal about this because it is a such a big part of the city’s history.

‘The aim is that this will also be a springboard for launching further projects.

‘We want to create this legacy and something that’s permanent. And we want people to be able to access this wherever they are.’

The Discovering the Guildhall project is an important step for the trust as part of its wider Renaissance scheme, which aims to make the Guildhall Square building a trailblazing venue for the future.

It is intended the project will lead to a permanent exhibition.

The trust’s CEO, Andy Grays said: We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the Discovering the Guildhall project will engage the city and wider community in exploring the wonderful history of this iconic venue.’

To register your interest as a volunteer, email hayley.reay@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk