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1950+

Birth of the Barn

1945

January 31

Community Association formally founded with a membership of twenty-three affiliated organisations, plus a few individual members, and with Mr. S. H. Baker [1907 – 2002] as Honorary Secretary.  The Association undertook to launch the Centre and in October took possession of the Homestead.

1946

Formal opening of Homestead in January : “Dreams can come true” said the Shoreham Herald, “when brought into reality by an ungrudging and certainly unstinted amount of heavy spade work.  Not only is this the first in the area but one of the very first Community Centres in the country”.

1948

Over 650 hours of voluntary labour, went into the conversion of the stables: first step towards turning the barn into a public hall and theatre.

1949

Conversion of the stables finished : for time being the future entrance hall to the barn was christened the ‘Foyer Room’ and used for meetings.

1950

February 6

Conversion of the barn started.  General building work, roofing, plumbing, heating and floor tiling were done by contracted labour under the Urban District Council.  In addition, over 5,200 hours of voluntary effort went into the construction of the stage, fitting out the foyer, cloak rooms, servery and dressing rooms, painting and decorating, and the making and fitting up of stage and hall curtains.

Control panels, designed and made by Mr J. Bunyan, M.B.E., B.Sc., and all fittings and cables for stage lighting and motorised curtains were installed by a small team of volunteers who also fitted all general lighting.

All voluntary work in the barn buildings was under the general direction of Mr H. A. Smart acting as voluntary works manager and liaison officer with Mr E. A. Coates surveyor of the Urban District Council.

1951

January 5 – Shoreham Herald – page 16

“Barn that became a theatre”

1951-01-05

The Barn Hall, in the grounds of Southwick Community Centre, will be opened as a theatre and social centre to-morrow and handed over by Southwick Council to Southwick and Fishersgate Community Association.  It has been arranged that Mr Hardman, Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of Education, will perform the opening ceremony on behalf of the Minister, Mr Tomlinson.

For about a year the association has been at work converting what was originally a derelict barn. Structural work, which presented many problems, has been done by contractors, but carpentry, decorations and lighting have been carried out by volunteers.

The plan has been directed by Mr E. A. Coates, surveyor to Southwick Council, who is seen on the right in the picture explaining points of interest.