Birley Centre cements college links with town

Left to right: Simon Davies; Robina Davies; Gus Christie; Michael Birley, former Headmaster of Eastbourne College after whom the Centre is named; Ann Birley; Admiral Sir Ian Forbes, Chairman of the College Council
Left to right: Simon Davies; Robina Davies; Gus Christie; Michael Birley, former Headmaster of Eastbourne College after whom the Centre is named; Ann Birley; Admiral Sir Ian Forbes, Chairman of the College Council

EASTBOURNE College’s Birley Centre officially opened its doors with two launches – one for the school and benefactors and one for the community.

Gus Christie, chairman of Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, cut the ribbon on October 4 and headmaster Simon Davies welcomed 230 benefactors who had contributed to the project, some from as far afield as Hong Kong, Canada and the USA.

The Birley Centre

The Birley Centre

Guests then enjoyed a musical programme, featuring more than 70 pupils, in the Jennifer Winn Auditorium.

The second reception, on October 11, was attended by more than 150 people from Eastbourne – including Toploader singer Joe Washbourn – who have expressed interest in this new development.

Welcoming the guests, Simon Davies said that over the past 144 years, the College has grown with the town of Eastbourne and has never had a greater wish to be ‘embedded’ in the town or been keener to form productive partnerships with educational, cultural, sporting and charitable organisations in Eastbourne.

"The Birley Centre is a vibrant symbol of the College’s wish to be proudly at the centre of the town of Eastbourne," he added.

"That its main entrance looks out onto Carlisle Road rather than into the school is deliberate.

"The unanimous response from those who have seen the new facility, with its versatile auditorium, large display and foyer space and state-of-the-art music school and recording studio, has been one of excitement: as intended, the Birley Centre really does complete the cultural quarter of Eastbourne, complementing the theatre and gallery facilities nearby.

"The College’s partnership with Glyndebourne will enable Glyndebourne to run residential training courses for young singers and expand its impressive programme of musical workshops for sufferers of dementia.

"It will also see the two organisations working together to invest in musicians of the future."

Anyone who is interested in hiring the Birley Centre, attending events there or collaborating with the College on a project should contact Linda Salway on email lasalway@eastbourne-college.co.uk or call 451931.