Christian Skelton with a vintage cinema projector that will be displayed in the Pavilion (Photo: contributed)
A major new grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund was confirmed earlier this year, a hugely significant moment in the six-year journey so far to secure a new life for the iconic town centre building. The funding of £249,405, announced on the eve of the building’s 110th birthday and made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will go towards the purchase of the building.
But now as that purchase approaches, likely to be completed before the end of the year, Selsey Pavilion Trust has had confirmation of a further grant – £50k from the Garfield Weston Foundation to help support essential repairs to the Pavilion early next year.
Trust chairman Christian Skelton said: “The purchase is still on track. There are lots of hurdles between now and completing the purchase, but I optimistically say end of November or early December to complete the purchase or more realistically by the end of the year. And then the Selsey Pavilion belongs to us so the timing of this new grant is amazing. We applied a while ago and the great thing is that we now have a good chunk of money allocated for the refurbishment. The Garfield Weston Foundation is a huge funder. They give away roughly £90 million a year and I’m really excited about having their support at such an early stage. They have pledged and given us the money before we actually own the building which is a great testament to what we’re doing and to our future plans. Effectively I would really like to develop a relationship with them and have the opportunities go back to them at a later date. We are going to be using the money for very, very early-stage refurbishment works. We need to be fixing the roof. There is a lot of water coming in. So it’s really essential maintenance work like the guttering, the roof and also sorting the floors. We have now secured in total about £120,000 for the phase one repairs of which this £50,000 is a big chunk. Part of the funding is to cover a proper accessible toilet in the cafe but the point is that the cafe will continue to trade. Nothing will change there. They are very much part of our plans. It is just that we are taking on the lease and they will be our tenants. And that will work very well. It means that from day one we will have an income coming in.”
If all goes well and with those first stage repairs completed, the hope is to start putting on events in the spring: “Concerts and live music we have to be a bit careful about because of the acoustics so they will be at a later stage but we’re hoping to be able to put on cinema and stand-up comedy and speakers and talks and things like that in the spring and hopefully we can be accessible to the local art groups as well.”
The Selsey Pavilion, constructed in 1913, is a rare and original art deco theatre and cinema hall, in its heyday hosting popular community events and famous performers, including Nijinska’s Russian Ballet and Bransby Williams. After WWII, the Pavilion became a full-time cinema and hosted seasonal pantomimes before closing in the mid-70s.