The Mayor of Rushmoor, Councillor John Marsh, was the guest of honour as Aldershot’s Princes Hall celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday with a tree planting ceremony.
The ceremony took place 50 years to the day the venue was officially opened on 22 May 1973, by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Prince had flown into Aldershot by Wessex helicopter, which he had piloted himself.
The Prince had planted a tree on that day, saying: “I’m sure this centre will be a tremendous success.” Happily, his words proved to be true, with the venue enjoying an illustrious half century of entertainment featuring top celebrities such Ken Dodd, Little & Large, Lenny Henry, Jools Holland, Harry Hill, Jimmy Carr, Al Murray, Frank Skinner and many more.
The hall was originally designed as a civic venue for the council to use for hosting formal and mayoral events. An unusual design, with the main auditorium on the first floor and smaller meeting rooms underneath, created an impressive staircase and entrance. An extensive refurbishment was undertaken in 1989 and 1990 and further improvements have been made over the years as the theatre has adapted to suit the demands of its busy programme of events.
Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Operational Services, Councillor Maurice Sheehan, said: “The fact that the Princes Hall is still going strong half a century on is a testament to those who had the vision to bring a top class venue to Aldershot, and to the many people who have worked so hard to keep it successful for all these years. For many local people it is the first place they go when looking for quality entertainment for the family.”
Appropriately, long-time producer and star of the Princes Hall panto, Robert Hopkins, was there to help mark the occasion along with ever-popular panto dame Donovan Christian-Carey.
The theatre has an exciting 50th anniversary season ahead, with upcoming visits from Ed Byrne, Susie Dent, Phil Wang, Ruby Wax, Ross Noble and more, as well as a varied programme of live music events and, of course, the annual pantomime, Aladdin.
For more information and ticket details please go to the Princes Hall website.