Goodbye Guildhall: A look through time

With Preston Guild Hall’s future in jeopardy, let’s take a look back on the iconic theatre’s history.

Preston Guild Hall under construction c. 1970.
Photo by Norman Askew, courtesy of the Preston Historical Society.

How the Hall was built

Construction began in 1969 and the building was considered at revolutionary feat of architecture, for its time.

Its completion was expected by the summer of 1972, in time for the Preston Guild.

However, progress was delayed due to a builders’ strike and work finished a year late, making it a commemoration in name only.

When first opened, the Hall received a mostly negative response from the public.

Many hated the new form of ‘Brutal Architecture’, a dramatic change to the existing Georgian terraces that made up Preston City Centre.

However, the Guild Hall revolutionised the future of buildings in the city centre.

St George’s Shopping Centre, St John’s Shopping Centre and, what would become the Grade II listed, Bus Station followed the same style of brutalism, modelled on the existing Guild Hall.

The Golden Years

Boasting larger than standard capacity for small theatres, the Hall has seen its fair share of stars walk through her doors throughout the years.

Hosting a number of famous musicians, including, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and the Jacksons, huge crowds were attracted to the venue.

The theatre was also the home of the UK Snooker Championship for thirty years, until the venue moved in 1997.

The Present and Future

Sadly, over time, the Guild Hall began to dwindle in popularity.

By 2013, the theatre faced not just closure, but the threat of destruction as Preston City Council claimed it was no longer financially viable and planned to have the building bulldozed.

In 2014, the Guild Hall was purchased by local business man, Simon Rigby, for the meagre price of £1, under the condition he would invest at least £1,000,000 into its redevelopment.

In the past five years, the Guild Hall has seen a boost in popularity, becoming the home to a number of restaurants, a cocktail bar and even a picturesque dining terrace.

The announcement of the Hall’s closure was came as an unexpected shock and here’s to hoping her future will be promising.

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