11th December 1976
Beau Sejour opens for business
Beau Sejour took a long time to get off the ground. Long overdue proposals for an all-purpose indoor sports centre were first mooted in 1966 by a group of Guernsey sportspeople. The island didn’t even have a public indoor swimming pool at the time, but that didn’t mean that the idea would gain automatic approval.
When the site on which it sits was selected – and from which it takes its name – any plans to build on it needed the approval of the residents of St Peter Port. The issue was put to a vote, which came out in favour, but it still wasn’t until 1970 that a steering committee was formed to push the project forward. Four years later, the States of Guerney voted in favour of the £2.5m plans proposed by the States Sporting Committee for what should become the finest complex of its kind in Britain.
Usurped by the mainland
Building work began right away, but almost immediately ran into problems. The steel that Guernsey had ordered for the complex’s infrastructure was requisitioned by the British government for use on oil rigs. This pushed back completion of the shell until mid-1975 and likely contributed to the overall delay in its completion. It had originally been projected to open in March 1976 but it was another nine months before the bailiff, Sir John Loveridge, finally cut the ribbon.
Beau Sejour was designed as a leisure centre in the truest sense of the term, incorporating sports facilities, a conference centre, exhibition space and a theatre. Following the closure of the Little Theatre three years earlier, it was the only venue on the island that could host plays and shows. Aptly, its opening night hosted a performance of Fiddler on the Roof.
One of its earliest big-ticket events was the fourth Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships, which were held there within three months of its opening.