'Emotional' farewell to Ferneham Hall as it closes for redevelopment after 38 years of service
FOR 38 years, Ferneham Hall has served Fareham as a theatre and cultural hub in the heart of Fareham.
So it was an emotional day as guests, staff, and friends of the hall gathered to watch the final curtain of its Beauty and the Beast production, the last performance in the building as it closed for redevelopment yesterday.
Sean Woodward said it was an emotional day.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘The building is at the end of its life.
‘It’s very exciting for the council to be undertaking one of its biggest ever projects with the work on the theatre.
‘It has been an emotional day.
‘Some people have been working for us for 38 years. We have had volunteers working at the theatre for 38 years.’
The purpose-built centre was opened by the Duchess of Kent on April 23, 1982, and stars including Lenny Henry, Jack Dee and Jo Brand all started their careers with a visit to the venue.
With the venue closing for two years, the council has offered to support staff to find new roles within the council or employment elsewhere.
Susan Bell said the council was ‘working hard’ to create a modern theatre for the community, as the executive of the council voted to approve draft designs altered ‘to reflect the area's character’ at a meeting on Monday evening.
Cllr Bell said: ‘The design team has researched local buildings and the brick making techniques that Fareham is renowned for.
‘The new building will be a multi-functional building, and more efficient in terms of space utilisation.’
The current designs, which refers to the building as Fareham Venue for the designers’ purposes, will see the current 708-seat theatre expanded to 800 seats, with a café operating throughout the day on the ground floor and a terrace bar on the first floor.
Decommissioning work will begin later this month, and a public consultation on the final plans will take place before being brought before the council in March.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘Hopefully we will lose only two pantos while this is going on.’