Selsey Pavilion looking southwards down Selsey High Street. Circa 1920
The front of the Selsey Pavilion looking southwards down the High Street. Circa 1930
Extensive fire damage to the roof and offices after a late night dance at the Pavilion in 1927
The Pavilion looking northwards up the High Street, with The Crown Pub on the right side. Circa 1930
The Selsey Pavilion as a thriving cinema, circa 1950

Designed by the London architect Harold Arthur Woodington (designer of Cordings) with its striking stucco plaster façade, the Pavilion is a rare and original theatre, cinema and live entertainment venue – one of a tiny handful remaining of the pre-Great War ciné-performance building boom.

Except for Chaplin’s Coffee Shop that was added by the current owners in 2015, much of the Pavilion remains as it was in the 1930s when playwright R. C. Sherriff joined the cast of the Selsey Players for their production of his world-famous First World War play ‘Journey’s End’.

The Pavilion became a year-round entertainment centre for residents and tourists alike presenting shows, films, dinners and dances that often went on into the early hours! By the mid-1940s, except festive pantomimes, the Pavilion had become a full-time cinema showing up to five films per week and popular Saturday matinees for children.

The final curtain fell on film in the Pavilion in 1974 when the building was let to an aviation catering firm for use as a packing facility until their relocation in 2007.

In recent years the Pavilion has hosted several plays staged by Arts Dream Selsey including The End of The Journey, Tonight at the Pavilion… Charlie Chaplin and Journey’s End to mark the centenary of the 1918 armistice. The late Ellis Berg, Arts Dream Selsey’s former president, unveiled a blue plaque in 2017.

In February 2024, following years of careful planning and considerable fundraising, the Trust purchased the Selsey Pavilion, 50 years since its closure.

“This is the first step in the restoration and revival of Selsey’s remarkable Art Deco landmark,” said SPT’s Chairman, Christian Skelton. “We have long dreamt about bringing live entertainment, cinema and local heritage together in Selsey. Now that we have the keys, that dream is becoming a reality. We have a long way to go, but owning the Pavilion brings us closer to making it the beating heart of Selsey’s High Street again, benefitting the community and local businesses.”

The Board of Trustees are incredibly grateful for the vital financial support from The Community Ownership Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players, Garfield Weston, Swire Group, Selsey Town Council, Chichester District Council, and the Architectural Heritage Fund. This crucial funding has ensured Selsey Pavilion’s long-term future as a multi-purpose arts and heritage centre for the whole of Selsey’s community and visitors to enjoy.

Fifty years ago, the cinema doors closed, but the Pavilion’s enduring presence reflects the community’s unwavering ambition to see it thrive again. Organisations are breathing new life into many historic buildings across the UK, turning them into thriving centres for the arts and entertainment in towns, and now it is Selsey’s turn. 🥳

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