A TOURING digital exhibition showcasing almost 130 years of Tamworth Assembly Rooms’ history has moved to its next location in the town.
The exhibition features old photographs, memories, press cuttings, flyers and historic architect drawings, as well as ambitious redevelopment plans for the iconic theatre’s next 130 years.
Members of the public are invited to view the display, which is stored on a tablet, as it tours various locations throughout the town, and share their own memories of the building at the heart of the community.
After being on display in St Editha’s Church for the past month, the digital exhibition has now moved to Tamworth Library, where it will remain for the rest of January.
It will then move to:
- John Lewis at Ventura Park in February
- Ankerside Shopping Centre in March
- Castle Grounds Activity Centre in April
- Robert Peel Hospital in May
- Ankerside Shopping Centre in June
The collection of stories, photographs, interesting historic facts and interviews with key people on the local music scene, have been brought together to celebrate the building’s past as it prepares for an exciting future entertaining audiences for generations to come.
People viewing the exhibition can read about significant events from Assembly Rooms’ history, including the early days, its role in the war years, those legendary performances by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, royal celebrations, parades, parties, shows, dances, Battle of the Bands, beer festivals and memories of Tamworth Arts Club and the Hastilow Drama Festival.
Tamworth Assembly Rooms was first proposed in 1887 as a fitting monument to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Councillors turned to the people of Tamworth to help fund the building and the £5,500 needed was raised.
The theatre was officially opened two years later on October 8, 1889, by the Tamworth MP Philip Muntz. Since then the building has entertained, hosted, wined and dined, with a huge variety of artists and performers gracing its stage over the decades.
It is currently undergoing its most significant refurbishment to date, with a £4.8million project to extend, modernise and improve the building.
Cllr Steve Claymore, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Heritage and Growth, said: “Tamworth Assembly Rooms is one of the jewels in the Tamworth crown. It has such a rich history at the heart of the community and we’re delighted to be able to enhance and preserve it so that it can go on entertaining audiences for years to come.
“The redevelopment has also given us the opportunity to have a good delve into the archives to explore the building’s history and bring some of that together for people to view. We’ve uncovered lots of interesting information in the process. For example, the Assembly Rooms was used as a base for army recruits during the First World War, hosted dances for American GIs in the Second World War, served as a soup kitchen during the general strike in 1926 and even entertained the Duke of York before he became King George VI.
“The exhibition will be travelling around a variety of venues in the town over the next few months so that as many people as possible can view it. We also want to hear your memories of the theatre and whether you have any memorabilia you can share with us, such as tickets, programmes, or photographs.”
Anyone who would like to take part can contact Jody Ross via email at Jody-Ross@tamworth.gov.uk. The digital exhibition project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The £4.8m Assembly Rooms refurbishment is part of the wider Enterprise Quarter project, which is a joint initiative between Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council. The overall £6.1million scheme includes the creation of Tamworth Enterprise Centre, which opened in July 2017, a new restaurant in the Carnegie Centre and the development of new ‘public realm’ open space.
It is funded by the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent LEP’s Single Local Growth Fund (£2.95m), the Heritage Lottery Fund (£903,400), Arts Council England (£365,000) and the remainder from Tamworth Borough Council.
You can follow the progress of the Tamworth Assembly Rooms redevelopment via a dedicated blog at www.tamworthartsandevents.co.uk, where you can also sign up to receive all the latest news, offers and information.