Project information

Portsmouth Guildhall Renovation

Portsmouth Guildhall is central to the identity of Portsmouth and its community. Currently the building is in urgent need of updating and its rich heritage remains untold. This project will resolve this, transforming the Guildhall and bringing its history to life.

April 2017 - August 2019

Charity information: Portsmouth Cultural Trust

Portsmouth Cultural Trust logo
  • Need


    The Guildhall's heritage is at risk through dilapidation and lack of historic care and attention to detail. Interpretation of its history needs to be displayed throughout the building and people memories of the Guildhall over the years captured before they are lost forever.

    The building is also very imposing and current access is obscured from view behind the stone steps. This proves problematic in encouraging people to access the building during the day as the Guildhall appears closed.


    The project will see the renovation of the Guildhall and the building of a glass extension which will house the new entrance and welcome centre. Its heritage will be interpreted throughout the building and in the Music Experience area which will narrate the story of the Guildhall's life as a concert hall.

    A range of activities including guided tours, oral history and talks will ensure peoples memories are captured and more people are aware of the buildings rich heritage.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    The heritage of the Guildhall will be better interpreted and explained


    » Interpretation will be spread throughout the building, drawing people in and encouraging them to discover its civic, leisure and building heritage.
    » Regular tours provided by volunteers. A range of hard copy and digital trails which will be accessible to everyone will also be produced.
    » The musical heritage of the Guildhall will by researched by volunteers who will collect photographs, objects and memories.
    » Oral history and reminiscence projects will ensure people memories and stories of the Guildhall are not lost to future generations.

    What success will look like

    Evaluation will be carried out to measure the success through surveys and feedback. 560 people will have used the trails in the first year to discover more about the Guildhall.

    Aim 2

    More people will engage with the Guildhall


    » A volunteering programme called Heritage Heroes will be created providing opportunities for people to get involved in all aspects of the Guildhall.
    » A targeted programme of events, workshops and projects will be aimed at people who normally wouldn't engage with the building .
    » We will work with schools to develop an education programme in line with the national school curriculum.

    What success will look like

    50 new volunteers will be recruited.
    Visitors to our galleries and exhibitions will increase by over 50% to 47,000
    1000 school children will have engaged with the Guildhall

    Aim 3

    The Guildhall will become more resilient


    » New facilities will encourage more people to enter the Guildhall, increasing visitor numbers and secondary spend.
    » Updated mechanical and electrical systems and low-energy technology will reduce running costs.

    What success will look like

    Running costs will reduce and income will increase through a growth in secondary income and visitor numbers

  • Impact


    The Guildhall will be safeguarded for future generations and its heritage protected. People will have a greater understanding of the Guildhall and its importance in the history of Portsmouth. Success will be measured in:
    - number of recruited and maintained volunteers
    - Increase in visitor numbers
    - Feedback from staff, volunteers and visitors
    - Growth in income


    There is a risk of unforeseen buildings issues arising once work commences but adequate contingency and the use of experienced architect will ensure this risk is mitigated.

    A lack of volunteers could have an impact on the success of the project but this risk has been mitigated through a detailed project to recruit and maintain volunteers.

    Another risk could be lack of funding. This risk has been mitigated through a detailed fundraising plan.


    Donors will receive regular updates on the projects progress detailing the ongoing and forthcoming activities and any necessary changes that have been made to the project plans.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £6,051,289

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      Amount Heading Description
      £3,229,353 Capital Work all building work .e.g. ground floor foyers, music experience space, galleries, studio and extension
      £413,250 Equipment & Materials fit out of welcome centre,cafe, box office, foyers, music experience, learning suite,studio
      £422,094 Activity Costs equipment and materials, staff costs, volunteer expenses, training
      £817,588 Professional Fees architects, project manager, surveyor, structural engineer, interpretation consultant
      £493,770 Contingency project contingency
      £675,234 Other costs Insurance, prelims, fees(e.g. planning), marketing, evaluation, recruitment

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Portsmouth City Council £300,000 Conditional
  • Background


    The Guildhall is located in the heart of Portsmouth in one of the highest areas of deprivation in the city. It has been central to the community for over 126 years and is used for Graduations, Remembrance, Council Meetings, Weddings, Concerts and award ceremonies. It has been described as the beating heart of the city and that is why its so important it is repaired and rejuvenated.


    The following will benefit from the project:
    - Local residents
    - Visitors
    - Local economy
    - up and coming artists
    - school children/students
    - families (especially from low incomes)
    - people with disabilities
    - older people

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have successfully run the Guildhall since 2011. During this time we have increased visitor numbers, introduced new galleries and exhibitions, introduced free community events, workshops for young people, people with disabilities and older people.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Andy Grays

    Andy Grays is the Project Director and has been the Chief Executive of the Trust since 2012. Before this he was at Luton Culture.

    Equals Project Management

    Acting as project manager for the project and will ensure the project in on plan and within budget. Previous projects include the British Museum.

    Lorraine Pink

    Lorraine is responsible for the fundraising and marketing for the project. She has worked in the charity sector for the last 10 years.

“The Guildhall is a cultural icon of Portsmouth and focal point for the city’s commemorations and celebrations. As the City’s Heritage Champion I’m in full support of this exciting project which will ensure over a century of memories and stories of this well loved civic building and music venue"

Cllr Stephen Morgan Leader, Portsmouth Labour and Portsmouth’s Heritage Champion