It’s worth taking a moment to consider the fascinating history of our venue. The Guildhall is most famous today as the city’s premier entertainment venue, but the history of this iconic local building also shines a light on the history of the whole city – not only through the role it has played as the civic home to the Lord Mayor, but also in the very walls of the building itself…
The Guildhall was originally completed in 1890. It was designed by Leeds architect, William Hill, who was inspired to improve upon an almost-identical model that he had designed as Bolton Town Hall in 1873. Unfortunately, Hill’s Guildhall was not even to last a century before the angry skies of the Second World War rained down a series of incendiary bombs onto the city in 1941.
On the 10th January, bombs gutted the original Guildhall, completely destroying the interior and roof and leaving only the outer walls and tower, which suffered enormous fire damage. In the course of the bombings that rocked the city, 930 civilians were killed, 1,216 were hospitalised and over 1,500 more were injured. However, the spirit of Portsmouth that survived the Blitz also ensured the survival of the Guildhall, which was rebuilt after the War and re-opened by HM The Queen on 8th June 1959. The building has stood as a memorial to the spirit and determination of Portsmouth and her people ever since.
The very walls of the Guildhall reflect the building’s central place in the city’s identity. The glittering Star Chamber holds a mural which shows some of the city’s most famous historical moments, while the Chamber itself was inspired by the city motto, Heaven’s Light Our Guide.
The Guildhall is also home to some of the city’s best loved historical treasures, including the city of Portsmouth’s Civic Plate, which is nationally renowned as one of the finest collections in the country. In recent times the Guildhall has enjoyed a number of uses. It is now home to the Council chamber, home to a number of local services and groups and the venue for a wide, including the Portsmouth Cultural Trust.
Selected reviews for this venue:
UB40 (15/04/14) - great show
Excellent performance, old songs as well as new. Although Ali was not singing Duncan did a great job .My husband and I have been going to see Ub40 for over 10 years and they have never disappointed us .
Address: Portsmouth Guildhall
Alight at Portsmouth and Southsea Station. The Guildhall is 200 metres to the south of the station.
From the west, take the M27. From the east, take the A27. From the north, take the A3M and follow it as it bears right onto the A27.
Take the M275 south onto Portsea Island. From the end of the M275, follow the signs for Isle of Wight Ferries and Southsea. After a mile, there will be signs for the Guildhall. Turn left after Victoria Swimming Pool (on your left) and continue to follow the signs for the Guildhall which will direct you to the nearest multi-storey car park.
Whilst working within the confines of a Grade 11 listed building, we hope to ensure you have the best possible experience and a memorable visit when you attend our events and activities.
If you have any feedback or questions about a particular issue not covered in this access information please contact enquiries(at)portsmouthguildhall.org.uk or telephone 023 9283 4146.
The Guildhall has an accessible toilet which are located in the basement and can be accessed by lifts on either side of the main foyer areas.
Hearing and guide dogs are welcome in Portsmouth Guildhall but please inform the box office when booking as there maybe limited space for your dog. For customers not wishing to take their dog into the auditorium, venue staff are available to ensure they are well looked after.
There is a gentle ramp entrance to the main foyer for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.
The steps inside the auditorium are quite shallow and both Box Office and Front of House staff can advise customers of the best routes and access points at the time of booking or when arriving for the performance.
We understand that some of our customers have limited mobility and may need some assistance in the venue. Whilst we will always try to assist in any way we can access is restricted in some areas of our venue.
There are a limited number of wheelchair spaces in the auditorium available and they are bookable by calling or emailing the Box Office; currently they cannot be booked online.