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Lighthouse opened as Poole Arts Centre on 1 April 1978 – three days after Ratchet Theatre director Jeremy Holloway started working here, as he tells #MondayMemories... 

I started work at Poole Arts Centre three days before it opened on 1 April 1978. I was working at Barclays at the time but wanted to earn some extra money so took a job as a commissionaire tearing tickets at the new arts centre – it was the biggest outside of London and a big deal for Poole. 

It was run by Anthony Covell and the Front of House manager was John Slaney who was a lovely chap – he never got ruffled by anything or anyone, no matter how loudly someone complained. Barry Newman was stage manager, and I think there was another called Roger. His deputy was Alan and I remember a flyman called Patrick, but what struck me most about it was that everyone wanted Poole Arts Centre to succeed and would do anything to help it do so.  

We were a very close team and we all looked out for each other – if one person worked late, we all pitched in to help if we could. It wasn’t long before I started helping out backstage and on the tech team for a bit of extra cash as well. That was how I came to follow spot Michael Jackson.  

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I was only vaguely aware of The Jacksons from their TV appearances on the Andy Williams Show and shows like that, but I didn’t know much about their music. That night it was my job to follow the lead singer, who was Michael of course. Years later when I was teaching would tell my students that I’d worked Michael Jackson and they’d always ask what he was like – and I had to say I have no idea! 

The Jacksons had this underlit perspex floor that was too big for the Wessex Hall stage so they couldn’t use it, but they did have a fibre optic peacock as part of the stage set – that was pretty impressive. 

I met Tina Turner as well, although at the time I didn’t actually know it was her. She played Poole as a warm-up date for a very short tour and liked it so much she came back for another show a couple of weeks later. I was backstage when this short lady with straight air came up to me and asked if she could order a few things for the interval. A lot of them wanted a drink, but she asked for fresh fruit and fruit juice. She was very sweet, a lovely lady.  

I only knew it was her when one of the dancers called out to her by name as she walked away. That was an amazing show; she was electric, an incredible performer. 

It was my job to set up the front of house rooms for exhibitions and functions and what have you, like the Under 18s disco. There was the Seldown Gallery downstairs and the Canford Room on the second floor and another rehearsal room on the first floor.  

They used to have life drawing classes there that were taken by a quite well-known artist called Sam Rabin who was about 80, but very well respected. They needed a model for the first class and asked for volunteers – we got paid so I said I’d do it.  

That was how I became the first life model at Poole Arts Centre, but after that we all used to have a go on rotation. 

  • Jeremy’s back in a couple of weeks to tell us about David Jason, Harry H Corbett, Dire Straits and HM The Queen no less. 
Published 15 February 2021