About Us

The Barrington Centre is an arts and community hub serving Ferndown and the surrounding areas with a theatre, function rooms, cafe, and bar. In addition to the great entertainment at our theatre, we also host regular community activities provided by the likes of the University of the 3rd Age and the Womens Institute.

Our history

At the heart of the Ferndown community for over thirty years

Why is it called The Barrington Centre?

Our centre is named after Jim Barrington, a local businessman. In the early 1980s Jim, along with a group of like-minded colleagues, campaigned for a building that could benefit local residents. Together they convinced Dorset Council and Tescos that, in return for gaining the Ferndown site for a new supermarket, they should build an arts and community centre.

Jim's vision

The centre would be run by The Ferndown Community Group, chaired by Jim and a number of volunteer committee members who shared Jim's vision. It's remit would be to provide a diverse range of activities and events that would appeal to the Ferndown community, and to be a home for local societies, clubs and organisations, some of which are still resident to this day.

A royal beginning

The Barrington Centre was opened in 1984 by HRH Princess Margaret to much fanfare and local press interest. Terry Holbert, vice chairman of the original commitee, fondly remembers the day. "She was charming...and she talked to everyone and found out about all the clubs meeting here." The opening culminated in a Gala Dinner attended by local dignitaries.

Serving the local community

For Ferndown

The centre quickly became a home for many groups and organisations in Ferndown, ranging from art societies, drama groups and even stamp collecting clubs. It hosted many community celebrations from Jubilees and National Celebrations, to birthdays, christenings and wedding receptions, as well as staging events from brass band concerts to craft fayres.

A community led centre

Over the years, the committee developed a centre that catered for many local groups and a theatre equally comfortable hosting both commercial and community events. This would not have been possible without the help and dedication of our volunteers, many of whom have been volunteering for over a decade and with some having been with the centre since the beginning.

The Barrington Theatre

The theatre has hosted a myriad of shows over the years, from national treasures Des O'Connor and Henry Blofeld, to legendary performers such as The Three Degrees, Marty Wilde, The Dreamers and The Bachelors. We regularly stage live music from tribute acts of classic artists including Pink Floyd, Elvis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Dolly Parton.

Ferns Cafe

Ferns Cafe is the most public face of the centre. Staffed by local residents, the cafe is a popular place to meet up with friends, enjoy a home cooked meal, relax after one of our numerous classes and activities, or just to pop in to try one of our delicious range of coffees - supplied by Ferndowns' Say Coffee Company.

A fresh start

Ferndown Town Council committed to a major refurbishment during the COVID pandemic that is nearing completion. Our theatre has opened its doors once again to both touring shows and local theatrical society productions, and we are now able look forward to a brighter future after the struggles of the last few years. We hope to see you soon!