Ceremony marks 125th anniversary of Portsmouth’s Guildhall

  • Ceremony told that Guildhall rose from the ashes after Second World War
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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.

. (left), Sarah Crocker and Ruby Crocker (four), with Vicky Smith and her son Charlie Smith (eight) at the event.'Picture Ian Hargreaves  (151381-5)

. (left), Sarah Crocker and Ruby Crocker (four), with Vicky Smith and her son Charlie Smith (eight) at the event.'Picture Ian Hargreaves (151381-5)

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.’