COMMENT: The jewel in the crown deserves all our love

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They say that when the lights go out at Portsmouth Guildhall, and all is quiet, you can still hear faint echoes of some of the world’s greatest musicians who have played there over 128 glittering years.

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan… the list of big names who have trod the boards of that hallowed stage seems endless.

Imagine the millions of memories created in that familiar concert space. It might not seem as hallowed as the Royal Albert Hall or the London Palladium, but it should be.

And all the while it is the beating heart that keeps the city running, with the council chamber where issues are debated and decisions made.

It is a jewel in Portsmouth’s crown, as much a symbol of pride on our skyline as St Paul’s Cathedral is on London’s.

It is a handsome building in the grand style, its columns, stone lions and expansive steps providing a splending backdrop to countless civic occasions and memorable events.

Its interiors, though are faded and dated, reflecting a bygone age and out of step with the demands of modern audiences – let alone the entertainers expected to put up with cramped, old-fashioned facilities backstage.

But Portsmouth’s love of the Guildhall is, fierce, to be sure, and we welcome news that its trustees are launching a public campaign to secure public backing for the next stage of its renaissance.

Plans are afoot to improve customer facilities and improve the concert hall and backstage areas, and the new It’s Time to Make it Happen campaign by the Guildhall Trust is the first stage in a multi-pronged campaign with the ultimate aim of winning public funding to make it all happen.

The Guildhall deserves to become an entertainment venue fit for the 21st century, and if all those who love Portsmouth Guildhall get behind the idea, the dream, in years to come, could be made a reality.