There’s nothing we like more than a busy night at Lighthouse when the building is buzzing with expectant audiences ready to enjoy shows they’ve waited ages to see. 

It’s like catnip to us and when we see people leave with smiles on their faces talking to one another about the amazing things they’ve just seen and heard, we like it even more! 

Imagine then what it must have been like 43 years ago when the building had just opened as Poole Arts Centre...  

This week #MondayMemories takes a look back who appeared here in those first few weeks. 

It all started calmly enough with the Poole Lions Club Gala Ball for some 1000 guests in the Wessex Hall (now the Concert Hall). The next day variety star Leslie Crowther announced his summer show bill and declared the centre’s bar open by pulling the first pint. That evening the late classical guitar/lute maestro Julian Bream played the first concert. 

What few knew on the night though was that he had driven himself to Poole from his home in Wiltshire and suffered a puncture on the way. Thinking nothing of it, one of the greatest guitar players in history simply got out and changed the wheel before continuing his journey.  

April progressed with concerts by the great pianists Semprini and John Lill, Motown superstars the Supremes – at that time the world’s most successful girl group – and American film composer Randy Edelman, before reliably out-there space rockers Hawkwind whipped up the faithful to generate the Concert Hall's famed ‘bouncing’ floor effect for the first time. 

Meanwhile, in the Towngate Theatre we welcomed Kent Opera for week’s run in which they performed The Seraglio, Eugene Onegin and Iphigenia In Tauris. The second week saw stage and screen favourites Sandy Powell, Lesley Sarony and Eddy Malloy star in The Golden Years of Music Hall, before our old friends Poole & Parkstone Operatic Society opened a week of sell-out performances of Gigi. 

April closed in the company of Ballet Rambert with a triple bill featuring Glen Tetley’s new work Praeludium, the legendary Lindsay Kemp’s theatrical spectacle Cruel Garden (picured here in dress rehearsal) and Take a Running Jump, a special matinee programme for young people. 

And the bill was no less stellar in May with The Frankie Howerd Show, Roy Castle, soprano Rita Hunter, the Climax Blues Band (supported by Dire Straits no less), the Steve Hillage Band and the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, which continues to visit to this day. In the Theatre was the Oxford Playhouse production of Farquhar’s comedy The Recruiting Officer, Coronation Street star Patricia Phoenix in Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel and Wyvern Theatre’s treatment of Rattigan’s French Without Tears. 

Clearly the bar was set high from the outset and as Lighthouse gets ready to raise the curtain on the post-lockdown era we’re aiming as high as ever. 

Please email if you'd like to share your Monday Memories - we'd love to hear from you. 


Published 19 April 2021