OUT IN THE FIELD: Falling in love with the Congress

Congress Theatre auditorium

Congress Theatre auditorium

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The Congress may not be my favourite landmark in the town and in the past I have been overheard saying it should be knocked down and rebuilt. But I am now starting to feel a little bit of love and some compassion for the place. This week I went behind the hoardings and up the scaffold to look at the £1.4 million project to restore the front of the building. The decayed concrete façade of the theatre has been removed, leaving the main structural columns exposed and the next step is to repair them. It’s all looking rather bashed and bruised but is getting some TLC from the teams working on the refurbishment. Aside from the horrendous cost of the scaffold for the last four years, it’s good news so far and should be finished by April. The next job will then be to redesign the ghastly interior of the place.

Moving next door – and one of my very few new year’s resolutions is to be nicer about the art gallery and its contents – the Towner will host a two day exhibition this Saturday and Sunday for people to find out more about the history of the much loved Wish Tower and other Martello Towers and why they’re important. It’s been organised by the fabulous Wish Tower Friends members who are inviting people to bring along photos and memories of the tower and the slopes so they can be included in the history of the landmark. I remember when I was a child it was the puppet museum and it frightened the hell out of me but do pop in to the expo if you can and add to the building’s colourful history.

Big up to young Toby Pengilly. The six-year-old Pashley Down Infants School pupil took it upon himself to help the homeless in the run up to Christmas and asked family and friends to donate toothbrushes, chocolate, warm socks and the likes which he then used to fill shoe boxes with and delivered them to the Salvation Army in Eastbourne so they could be distributed before the big day.