What to call the complex which includes the Town Library, Art Gallery and the old Arts Centre (formerly the Cambridge Halls).There are several ideas doing the rounds.
First amongst these is William Atkinson. He was a great Victorian benefactor in the town who made his money in cotton and hailed from Knaresborough. By all accounts he had a sickly wife who liked to holiday in the town. Atkinson kicked start the project with a donation of £6,000 and his name is already widely used in relation to the Library and Art Gallery and his name is inscribed in the stonework above the Art Gallery door.. He also gave money for the addition of the Clock Tower to the Cambridge Halls which with this current restoration will finally get a proper face on all four sides. Atkinson gave money to other causes in the town including the Provident Society for Fisherman which held its meetings in the Temperance Hall in Shellfield Rd Marshside (where local Liberals used to also hold social events) Both in Southport and in Ashton Hayes -where he lived immediately prior to settling in the town -he donated generous sums to church buildings. Atkinson was a Liberal supporter and funder.
The second contender is to maintain the link with the Duchess of Cambridge after whom the theatre complex was originally named.Southport is awash with references to the last Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke, Prince George-had an appetite for irregular relations with women which was impressive even by royal standards. We have Cambridge Rd, Cambridge Gardens, Cambridge Walks all of which were named after the promiscuous prince.
Apart from is entangle private life Prince George is best remembered for being the last Royal Commander in Chief. He was seen as a major obstacle to reform of the army and it fell to Campbell Bannerman to remove him. He did not want to go. Queen Victoria was keen that the Duke of Connought should take over and he was bitterly disappointed when CB scuppered that plan. Nevertheless it is a mighty testimony to CB's diplomatic skills that he got his Army Reforms through complete with the removal of Prince George and that he managed to fall out with none of the key players.
Fortunately for those 'back to basic campaigners' in the town the Halls were named after the Duchess of Cambridge and it will have escaped nobody's notice that we have a new Duchess of Cambridge. The Halls were originally opened by her namesake .........
There are two other possible candidates. Firstly Miss Ball who established the permanent art collection with a donation of watercolours and oil paintings .