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Auditorium named for Garrison Theatre family
9:00am Wednesday 16th October 2013 in Andover
A MASSIVE 700-seat theatre facility in the centre of Tidworth has been named after the family who ran the old Garrison Theatre for more than a century.
The Pickernell Auditorium at the new Garrison Theatre has been named in honour of Tony Pickernell, his wife Julie and his father Ken and grandfather Bert, who managed the old theatre since the day it opened in 1909 until its closure on Friday.
Mr Pickernell, who now works for the T i d w o r t h Community Area Partn e r s h i p , spoke about his feelings on seeing the sign at the entrance to the facility.
He said: “What an honour for the family and what a f a n t a s t i c new facility, it is state of the art.
“Seeing this new theatre must be the same sort of feeling experienced when they opened the original theatre.
“My father and grandfather always said ‘work hard, be loyal and you will be rewarded’ – this honour is really appreciated.”
The old theatre has a fascinating history playing host to some of the greats of the entertainment world such as Bob Hope, Dame Nellie Melba, Alistair Sim, James Cagney and Will Hay.
Wartime commanders Montgomery, Alexander and Eisenhower all used the theatre to address troops.
Security restrictions meant the old theatre was a little hamstrung in recent years but the new theatre in St A n d r e w Road is ‘outside the wire’ and designed to offer civilian use in the same way as the Tidw o r t h L e i s u r e Centre is opened to the public.
While the TLC is run by Wiltshire Council, the theatre will be run by Aspire Defence on behalf of the MoD.
The theatre has seats with leg room to accommodate well-built soldiers and, as well as the capacious seating, is designed to accommodate a battlegroup briefing using state of the art screen projection and sound. Its stage can be extended forward more than 16 feet to accommodate a 40-piece military band.
The official opening of the theatre complex on 1 November by the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire will mark the completion of the major building work undertaken as part of the £7 billion Project Allenby-Connaught.
The project has seen the replacement and renewal of hundreds of military buildings across Salisbury Plain and Aldershot garrisons.
One of the final acts will be the demolition of the old Edwardian theatre.
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