30 years ago

From the West Sussex County Times of Friday, February 25, 1983.

All that remains of Horsham’s Capitol Theatre is three walls of the shell and a lot of rubble.

Only seven weeks ago the theatre rang to the applause of a capacity last night audience. Then, on January 17, an eight-man demolition team moved in to begin razing the building to the ground ready for work to start on a Marks and Spencer’s store.

Senior site manager Peter Hopkins said: “The demolition of the Capitol will be completed by the end of next week.

“Then we will start underpinning Boots’ wall on the edge of the site and the main foundation work for the new store will begin after Easter.

“I can’t say as yet when the new store should be finished, because at the moment there are problems with the design which are still being sorted out.”

Plans to replace the Capitol Theatre with the arts centre in the shell of the existing ABC cinema in North Street moved a stage forward last night when the architects’ latest designs were shown to members of Horsham District Council.

Support is growing for Steyning’s campaign to save the old railway warehouse from developers’ bulldozers.

Parish councillors have pledged to back a pressure group in its plans to block the building’s demolition. They agreed in principle with a scheme to convert the warehouse into a craft centre.

Spearheading the campaign to save the building is village craftsman Gordon Lawrie. He has said it would be ‘an act of criminal vandalism’ to destroy the 19th century warehouse – the last surviving relic of Steyning’s once busy station.

The clamour to stop bulldozers moving in to knock down the warehouse started when it became clear the county council planned a road across the site. Standing in the southern-most corner of a strip of land set aside for residential and industrial development, the warehouse would go to make room for an access from Station Road.

Mr Lawrie argues there is ‘absolutely no reason’ why the road should not be routed to the west of the warehouse. Plans have been drawn up for the building to be used as workshops, offices, and a community centre.

June Whitfield and her husband Tim are selling their antiques shop and cottage in Plaistow, which has been their ‘weekend home’ for about four years.

At one time the couple spent most weekends in Plaistow where the star of BBC TV’s ‘Terry and June’ and ‘Happy Ever After’ could be seen serving behind the counter of The Corner Shop on Saturdays.

Recently, however, June has been away working almost every weekend.

“The main reason for selling it is that it is not the greatest place in the world for an antique shop. We love it dearly there and don’t want to go but it is not busy enough,” says June.

“We shall be very sad to leave because we love the cottage. We spent weekends there whenever we could but last summer I was working every Saturday. I couldn’t get away often enough and Tim was often down there on his own which wasn’t so much fun.”

Tim has now moved the antiques business to Thames Ditton. But the couple, who normally live in South London, will not be completely severing their connections with West Sussex. They still have many friends in the county, particularly in the Midhurst area, where Tim was brought up.