IT’S a building that conjures up so many memories for people.
Whether it be as a first music gig, or the Queen visiting Portsmouth to reopen the restored building in 1959, the Guildhall has a place in everyone’s heart.
Dozens of people gathered to raise a toast to its 125th anniversary yesterday.
A ceremony, attended by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Frank Jonas, heard about the Guildhall’s eventful history and how a £15m refurbishment programme will bring the interior into the 21st century.
In the rest of the building there were a flurry of fun activities for the Funky Town event, including a balloon show, circus acrobatics, and craft making.
Addressing dignitaries, Andy Grays, chief executive of the Portsmouth Cultural Trust, which runs the building, said it had ‘risen like a Phoenix from the ashes’ when it was virtually destroyed by German bombing in 1941.
Former Portsmouth North MP Syd Rapson was also there reminiscing.
He was mayor in 1990 for the centenary when Princess Diana visited the Guildhall to celebrate the milestone.
He said: ‘A number of councillors have cut their teeth as Lord Mayors in this magnificent building.
‘There’s been some fantastic shows – I myself saw T. Rex, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Shirley Bassey.
‘It’s been a fantastic venue. It’s always going to be here and I hope people respect it as much as we do.’
Ruth Eades, 38, from St Andrews Road, Southsea, who works at the Guildhall, said: ‘I went to my first gig here in 1990. It was EMF I think.’
Simon Bunting, 37, also from Southsea, added: ‘There’s so much stuff going on here. We have seen some amazing gigs here.’
Mick Cooper, 71, a local music historian from Paulsgrove, said: ‘This is my city and the Guildhall is the cornerstone of Portsmouth.’
People enjoyed looking at photographs from yesteryear, showing a glimpse of the Victorian building before the bombing.
Vicky Smith, 32, and her eight-year-old son Charlie, from North End, enjoyed the craft activities in the main hall.
Vicky said: ‘It’s been great. The kids have enjoyed it and there’s been lots for them to do.’