The refurbishment of the Southport arts centre on Lord Street is now nearing completion. It has been three long years and the extended closure hasn't been helpful to the cultural life of the town, so let's hope all the time, effort and - most importantly - money has been well spent. It was because of this closure that the local CAMRA beer festival moved, first to the Scarisbrick Hotel and then to the St Johns Ambulance Hall in Wright Street, where it will held again this October. Many of us feared that, with the recession, the arts centre might not have been reopened at all and the building sold off.
It is to be renamed the Atkinson, although I suspect some people will still call it "the arts centre", mainly because they'll get bored of saying: "I'm going to see X at the Atkinson." "Where's that?" "It's the old arts centre." I do recall that before it became Southport Arts Centre, it was called the Cambridge Hall, but the 'C' fell off and so it became Ambridge Hall, familiar to listeners of The Archers as the home of Lynda Snell. The Atkinson incorporates not just the arts centre, but also the library and art gallery.
It is good news that it is reopening at last, but I think it's important to realise that in the current financial mess that the banks and politicians (of all political persuasions) have left us in, the long-term future of the Atkinson cannot be regarded as definite. It really is a matter of use it or lose it.
P.S. I contacted Emma Lloyd at the Atkinson about the bar, and her reply included this encouraging news: "We
are looking to bring in Southport Brewery where possible and cater for our
patrons with a wide choice of good quality bottled beers."