This film is part of Free

A Milestone for Crawley

Follow the construction of Crawley's new arts centre, from building site to opening night, in this remarkable and colourful documentary film from 1989.

Amateur film 1989 44 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


This remarkable amateur documentary charts the construction of Crawley's Arts Centre - a venue sorely needed by the various cultural groups requiring a permanent home in the town. While construction takes place we see stagehands at work, choirs singing, accordions playing and a visiting musical troupe from Ghana. We see the annual fair as well as singing 'Toy Soldiers', writers and performers at work all leading up to opening night, despite the 1987 hurricane.

Known today as the Hawth Theatre and Arts Complex, Crawley's arts venue finally opened in 1988 after earlier attempts had failed. It remains true to its original remit and provides facilities for local dramatic and operatic societies as well as support for the visual arts like photography, filmmaking and painting. As well as its own dramatic productions, which have been many and varied, the Hawth also plays host to visiting companies like the RSC and ENO. Famous names who have appeared on its stages include Eddie Izzard, Ravi Shankar, Richard Wilson and Nigel Havers as well as Jack Dee and Julian Clary. The word 'Hawth' is said to come from the local pronunciation for the word 'heath'.