The Barn Redevelopment







This outline sketch from the mid-sixties shows two dressing rooms off east back-stage.

Community Centre, Southwick BN42 4TE UK


The story begins in 1987 when the Fire Brigade said it could no longer accept the fire escape provisions from the Barn Theatre dressing rooms.

Two options were discussed by a working group :

[1] build new dressing rooms on east side of stage or

[2] convert workshops and storage accommodation between the back of the stage and the Craft Room, into dressing rooms.

Progress by the Community Association was vital so as to allay any fears the Fire Brigade might have of ‘feet-dragging’ on a matter which could see the theatre being closed!

Option 2 was decided upon; upgrading the backstage area and the building of two new dressing rooms to be named ‘Baker Room’ and ‘Penney Room’.

Stanley Baker
Arthur George Wallis Penney


October : Installation of retractable seating at a cost of £20,000


Box Office in Barn Hall foyer enlarged at instigation of ‘at The Barn’ team. A team formed from the publicity elements of the Wick Theatre Company, Southwick Players & Southwick Operatic. Their efforts resulted in joint announcements of upcoming productions and from those early days the jointly managed Box Office came into being.


Dressing rooms fitted out with mirrors and make-up lights


Building of an extension to the Barn – on the eastern side – was started. Now the ‘chair-room’ behind the Box Office


Sound system was upgraded following a Foundation of Sports and the Arts award of £20,000

The Community Centre’s Newsletter [ issue no.173 – 1995] :

[SCAMPI – Southwick Community Association Millennium Project Implementation]


Application to Millennium Fund to complete plans for Barn Theatre

“Preparatory work for a detailed application for a Lottery Grant is being carried out.” announced the Community Association. “The Barn Hall Scheme has been enlarged to cover building an Arts / Workshop Complex to the South of the Centre. This became urgent when Adur District Council gave notice of withdrawing planning permission for the Wick & Opera temporary workshops which are essential adjuncts to the Barn Hall as an entertainment venue. The scheme will now cost about £450,000 and will complete the improvement envisaged by Mr. Baker and the Executive Committee in the 1960s.”

The Fund was supported by Adur District Council, West Sussex County Council, The Shoreham Port Authority, Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts [matched funding] and numerous donations from affiliated societies, Wick Theatre Company included.

Arts Council awards National Lottery funds to project.

1996 October 17 – Brighton Argus report award
1996 October 9 – Dept for Culture, Media & Sport publish award details


Users of the Barn Hall warned that when rebuilding of the Stage and Storage area starts the stage area will be sealed off. Productions and other events must be confined to the area in front of the proscenium arch.


Progress – the partial removal of the structure behind the arch as this ‘barn hall stage improvement’ drawing indicates and the ‘gaping-hole’ pictures dramatically shows.

Map of Community Centre showing new stage development

Picture left : reconstructing theatre south & Picture right : north end


Completion of Barn Redevelopment – Project Team celebrate

Phillip Comber, Dave Comber, Bob Ryder, George Porter & Charles Porter

Belinda Jupp, Stanley Baker & Ian Elliott

When all was said and done – a theatre for the new millennium


Joint theatrical production; Wick Theatre Company and Southwick Players. On The Razzle directed by Bob Ryder.