Exhibition charts the history of Portsmouth Guildhall

The history of Portsmouth’s Guildhall has been revealed in a new exhibition that covers the building’s wartime destruction and resurrection as a venue hosting world-famous bands, among other events.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:51 pm
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 1:21 pm
The 1990s board

THE Guildhall Trust has launched its 'Discovering The Guildhall' exhibition. It showcases the music, civic and social history of Portsmouth Guildhall, from when it was devastated in 1941 to the present.

The exhibition has been the result of 14 months of work, 40 volunteers and almost 60 oral history interviews. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project reached out to members of the public to reminisce and share their memories of Portsmouth's iconic venue.

At the launch Andy Grays, CEO of The Guildhall Trust, said: 'After so many projects since 2013 we decided we wanted to show the voice of the local community, and what people have experienced themselves. I can talk about Pink Floyd or The Beatles performing on stage, but what does it mean to the people? It was about discovering their Guildhall and their Guildhall moment.'

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Scenes from Discovering the Guildhall, an exhibition that runs at Portsmouth Guildhall from January to March 2020 Pictures: Thomas Kirton

Nicola Peacock, the project manager said: 'It took a long time for people to come forward – people thought that their stories and their memories weren't something that other people wanted to hear, and they are, they absolutely are.

'Hopefully everyone that comes and sees the exhibition will be able to connect with some part of it, and go, yes that's the part of the Guildhall that I remember.'

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Two short films were created for the project by Millstream Productions and are on show at the exhibition. The films intertwine the memories into the fabric of the building, covering moments such as someone’s first gig seeing a small-unknown band from Liverpool called The Beatles, and another man’s story of how the building was evacuated when a sniffer dog thought a old mouldy sandwich was an explosive device.

Some of the exhibits

The exhibition will be on show until March 27. The poem 'I Remember' which was created as part of the project will also be shown twice an hour on the big screen at Guildhall Square.

The Guildhall in Portsmouth