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The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

Theatres and Halls in Chatham, Kent

The Central Theatre - The Brook Theatre - The Theatre Royal - Gaiety Music Hall - The Empire Theatre - Barnard's Palace of Varieties - Chatham Town Hall

The Central Theatre, 170 High St, Chatham, Kent, ME44AS

Formerly - The Wesleyan Central Hall / Methodist Central Hall

A Google StreetView Image of the Central Theatre, Chatham - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Central Theatre, Chatham - Click to Interact

 

The Central Theatre is situated on the High Street in Chatham and originaly opened in 1908 as Chatham's Wesleyan Central Hall, designed by Gordon & Gunton of London. The building was later in use as a Methodist Hall from 1932 until it was sold by the Methodists in 1966.

The Theatre is home to a variety of theatrical productions throughout the year including pantomime, tribute shows, music, comedy, touring shows, films, and children's shows, and can seat 960 people.

For tickets and information on the Central Theatre see the Medway Tickets Live Website here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Brook Theatre, The Brook, Chatham, Kent, ME44SE

Formerly - The Chatham Town Hall / Medway Arts Centre

A Google StreetView Image of the Brook Theatre, Chatham, formerly the Chatham Town Hall - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Brook Theatre, Chatham, formerly the Chatham Town Hall - Click to Interact

The Brook Theatre opened in April 1997 and is situated in the former Chatham Town Hall building which first opened as such in January 1900. On the first floor of the old Town Hall was a multi-purpose Hall with its own Stage which was used for a variety of functions and events over the ensuing years. However, when the City Council officials relocated to Strood nearby the building was left empty until it was reopened as the Medway Arts Centre in 1987. Ten years later in April 1997 it was reopened as the Brook Theatre.

The Theatres Trust says that 'The Brook acts as a home for visual and performing arts on both professional and amateur basis.' For the creation of the Brook Theatre a thrust stage was added but there was no room for a fly tower and there is no wing space on one side of the stage. The original Gallery of the Hall was modified so that it can now accommodate retractable raked seating for 400 people.

The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on the proposed original Chatham Town Hall building in their December 4th 1896 edition, along with some very nice sketches and plans of the building, all of which can be seen below.

For tickets and information on the Brook Theatre see the Medway Tickets Live Website. here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Theatre Royal, 102 High Street, Chatham, Kent

Proposed Name - The Victoria Theatre

Later - The Royal Hippodrome / Theatre Royal again

A Sketch of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November 25th 1898

Above - A Sketch of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November 25th 1898

A Programme for 'Arsenic And Old Lace' at the Theatre Royal, Chatham on September the 8th 1947 - Courtesy Rod Allison.The Theatre Royal in Chatham, Kent was built for C. and L. B. Barnard who had been running their Palace Theatre of Varieties opposite for many years previously. The Theatre was designed in the French Renaissance style as a Play and Variety House, by the architect George. E. Bond who also designed Chatham's Town Hall the previous year, and had been the clerk of works for Barnard's Palace of Varieties in 1886. The Theatre Royal opened on Monday the 31st of July 1899 with a production of 'The Liars'.

Right - A Programme for 'Arsenic And Old Lace' at the Theatre Royal, Chatham on September the 8th 1947 - Courtesy Rod Allison. More of this programme and a photograph from the production can be seen below.

The Theatre was first planned in 1897 and its original designer, who had already drawn up the plans, was the renowned Theatre Architect, Frank Matcham. It was to have opened as the Victoria Theatre in February 1897 although building work had not commenced until October that year. However, succeeding notices in the ERA show the opening date being put back several times. By the time it did eventually open in July 1899 its designer was credited as being G. E Bond, what happened to Matcham's involvement is unclear.

The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on the construction of G. E. Bond's Theatre in their November the 25th 1898 edition, along with the sketches and plans shown above and below, saying:- 'A new theatre is being built in the High-street, the contractor being Alderman C. E. Skinner. The stage will be on a level with a private roadway 15ft. wide, so that if necessary horses may walk straight on...

A Section Plan of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November 25th 1898.

Above - A Section Plan of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November the 25th 1898.

A Plan of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November 25th 1898.

Above - A Plan of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November 25th 1898.

...A promenade from the grand circle will measure 80ft. by 26ft. There will be a broken-backed pit; thus from the orchestra 35ft. back the pit will slope 1½in. to the foot, and start again another 35ft. to the back 2½in. to the foot. There will be an extra exit from every part of the house, including stage and dressing-rooms. A subway will be formed leading to right and left of the stalls. The dressing rooms, green-room, &c., are outside the main walls of the building. The management will utilise both gas and electric light...

A Plan of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November 25th 1898.

Above - A Plan of the Theatre Royal, Chatham - From the Building News and Engineering Journal, November 25th 1898.

...The chief dimensions are:- Stage, 75ft. by 45ft; pit, 65ft. by 78ft., distance from back wall of stage to back of pit about 115ft. The amount of the builder's contract is £16,100; while the decoration and furnishing have been intrusted to Messrs. A. R. Dean, Limited, of Birmingham. The architect is Mr. G. E. Bond, M.S. A., of Rochester.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal, November the 25th 1898.

The Theatre Royal, as it was called when it did finally open, was large and well equipped with an equally large stage and its auditorium was stated as having had a capacity of 2,840 when it first opened.

Shortly after the Theatre opened the ERA printed a review of the building in their 5th of August 1899 edition saying:- 'The new playhouse which Messrs C. and L. B. Barnard have erected in High-street Chatham, has two tiers. There are eight comfortable and tastefully furnished boxes. The front in designed in the French Renaissance style, with a pediment surmounted by a life-size statue. Over these entrances are managerial offices and a handsome circle lounge. The pit entrance in furnished with a patent safety check barrier, the invention of Mr J. L Graydon, of the Middlesex Music Hall. The proscenium opening is 31ft. wide and 18ft. high; width of stage, 71ft. 6 in.; from back of stage to curtain line, 40ft.; from stage to gridiron over-head, 49ft.: pit, 65ft. wide; from curtain line to back of pit 73ft. 6in. The seating accommodation is as follows: - Stalls, 230 seats; dress-circle 160; balcony stalls, 600; pit. 1,000; and gallery, 850.

The interior is decorated with fibrous planter finished in cream, pale blue, and salmon pink, with gilded ornamentation. The lighting throughout is by electricity (the proprietors generate their own by means of a Stockport gas engine and a Castle dynamo of 110 volts). Behind the scenes the electric light has been installed on modern lines. The building is heated throughout on the low-pressure hot water system. The green-room and dressing-rooms, eight in number, are adjoining, but beyond the main walls of the building. The stage is shut off from the auditorium and dressing-rooms by Iron doors and a fire-proof curtain, and there are two exits for most parts of the theatre. Most of the scenery, including the handsome act-drop, is from the studio of Mr Francis H. Bull. Mr Bull has worked into the drop two doors, an entrance and an exit for the use of players taking a call. The fibrous plaster interior decorations and upholstering have been in the able hands of Messrs A. R. Dean, Limited, the well-known Birmingham theatre furnishers. The proprietors are Messrs Chas. Barnard, of the Theatres Royal, Aston and Smethwick, and Mr L B. Barnard, of the Palace of Varieties, Chatham. The management of the house will be in the hands of the son of the last-named gentleman, Mr Lionel Barnard, and Mr Goorge G. Ridley, late of the Gaiety, Birmingham, and already very popular here, will act as secretary. The building has been erected from the plans and designs and under the superintendence of Mr G. E. Bond, M.S.A., of Rochester.

The doors of the new theatre were opened to the Public for the first time on Monday, when Miss Emma Hutchison's No. 1 company, under the direction of Mr Percy Hutchinson, performed The Lairs. At 7.30 the curtain was raised to disclose an assembly of Chatham's leading citizens gathered around the proprietors. There were the mayor of Chatham, wearing his chain of office; Alderman Sir Horatio David Davies, M.P. for Chatham and ex-Lord Mayor of London; and a number of Town Councillors and others. Mr Milner Verren sang a verse of the National Anthem. Sir Hortio Davies, in a neat speech, congratulated Messrs Barnard upon their excellent theatre, and shook hands with those gentlemen. Mr Barnard acknowledged Sir Horatio's good wishes.

The performance of The Liars was admirable, and gave evident pleasure to the audience. As Sir Christopher Deering Mr Edward Rochelle was very worthy, and his call at the conclusion was undoubtedly well deserved. As Edward Falkner Mr Jno. Dunbar played well. Mr Edward Swinton's Freddie Tatton was capital, and other parts were cleverly sustained by Mr Harold Maxwell, Mr Everard Digby, Mr Walter Russell, Mr Herbert Lloyd, Mr J. W. Marshal, Mr H. L. Pemberton, Mr Jno. Noble, Miss Claire Harford, Miss Millicent Gwynne, Miss Minnie Griffen, Miss Madge Willis, Miss Amy Thomas, and Miss Muriel Johnson. The mounting of the play was excellent and the orchestra, under the leadership of Mr E. W. Eyre, made a favourable impression.'

The above text in quotes was fisrt published in the ERA, 5th of August 1899.

The Theatre Royal, Chatham in what is probably the 1920s - Courtesy Graham WhiteOn the 16th of May 1900, just 8 months after the Theatre had first opened in July 1899, it was all but destroyed by a major fire, leaving little but the exterior walls still standing. However, the owners quickly had the Theatre rebuilt to a slightly altered design by its original architect G. E. Bond, and it reopened on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December 1900 with a production of 'A Royal Family'.

Right - The Theatre Royal, Chatham in what is probably the 1920s - Courtesy Graham White.

The ERA were on hand to report on the reopening of the Theatre, just six months after the fire, in their 29th of December 1900 editions saying:- 'The British public admires pluck. Nothing could have been more commendable than the way in which Messrs Barnard, of Chatham and elsewhere, set about restoring their ruined Theatre Royal at Chatham after the ordeal of fire had, on May 16th last, suddenly terminated a six days' run of The Great Ruby. The disaster happened so recently that readers will hardly need to be reminded of the occurrence. Sufficient to say that the fire originated mysteriously between the matinee and evening performance, gutted the building, and left the inside a blackened wreck.

A new interior has been provided, while the roof and parts of the shell of the structure have also been renewed. Yet, in a fraction over six months, the building is once more ready for use, and on Monday last threw open its doors for the admission of the playgoer.

The features of the original building remain almost unaltered; two rows have been borrowed from the pit and added to the orchestra stalls, additional pit seating being gained by narrowing the promenade in the rear, while extra boxes have been erected in the upper circle, the total seating accommodation being almost 3,000. The decoration of walls and ceiling and the furnishing have been in the hands of Messrs A. R. Dean, Limited, and are as beautiful as before. There are two fire hydrants on the stage and one on each floor, while the new fireproof curtain would gain approval even from the London County Council. Across the proscenium has been painted the motto "Let the evenings's amusement bear the morning's reflection."

The house is heated by radiators on the low pressure hot water system; the electric lighting is by W. Young, of Birmingham, the handsome copper and brass chandelier suspended from the centre of the dome being worthy of special mention. The management of the house will, as before, be in the hands of Mr Lionel Barnard, assisted by, the popular secretary, Mr Geo. G. Ridley. The original architect, Mr G. E. Bond, M.S.A , has supervised the restoration.

At the time of the fire the Chatham theatre was occupied by one of Mr Greet's companies, and, singularly enough, the reopening performances are given under the same management. On the opening night on Christmas Eve the building was well filled...'

The above text in quotes (edited) was first published in the ERA, 29th December 1900.

The Theatre was redecorated in 1938 by Andrew Mather and renamed the Royal Hippodrome but the Theatre then went on to have a very sorry future. Known as the Theatre Royal again by the 1940s the Theatre closed in 1953 and soon became derelict. The Theatre was even used as a furniture showroom for some time, using the auditorium and foyer spaces. A fire in the 1960s gutted the stage house, and the proscenium was then bricked up and the boxes were removed. After the Furniture showroom moved out the Theatre went into even further decline due to vandalism and lack of care for the building.

A photograph from the production of 'Arsenic And Old Lace' at the Theatre Royal, Chatham on September the 8th 1947 - Courtesy Rod Allison.

Above - A photograph from the production of 'Arsenic And Old Lace' at the Theatre Royal, Chatham on September the 8th 1947 - Courtesy Rod Allison.

Cast details from a programme for 'Arsenic And Old Lace' at the Theatre Royal, Chatham on September the 8th 1947 - Courtesy Rod Allison.

Above - Cast details from a programme for 'Arsenic And Old Lace' at the Theatre Royal, Chatham on September the 8th 1947 - Courtesy Rod Allison.

A Google StreetView Image of the former Theatre Royal, Chatham - Click to Interact. By the 1980s local people had had enough and a campaign was begun by 'The Theatre Royal Chatham Trust' to restore the Theatre but although this looked hopeful for a while, in 2002 they were forced to give up and the building was sold to a Housing Association.

Right - A Google StreetView Image of the former Theatre Royal, Chatham - Click to Interact.

Sadly by March 2009 the Theatre Royal had deteriorated so badly that it had become an unsafe structure and on April the 18th 2009 demolition of the building began. However, the Facade and Front of House were retained.

In 2013 a scheme to renovate the Bank Chambers building opposite the old Theatre, and construct flats behind the Theatre's Facade were approved by the Theatres Trust.

Work on restoring the Foyer and bars of the former Theatre was finished by 2014, as can be seen in the image above right, but the intention for the building to house an entertainment complex consisting of bars, restaurants, cafes and 26 flats doesn't yet seem to have been fully realised.

For a great deal more information on the Theatre Royal, Chatham, with many images, past and present, you may like to visit Graham White's Website on the history of the Theatre Royal here.

 

The Gaiety Music Hall, 49, High Street, Chatham

Later - The Empire Theatre

The Gaiety Music Hall was situated on the High Street in Chatham and opened on Monday the 1st of September 1890. Building work began on the Theatre in March of the previous year and the Theatre was constructed in 6 months, which was quite normal for the period. The Gaiety Music Hall was designed by George Friend from Maidstone in Kent.

The ERA reported on the newly opened Music Hall in their 6th of September 1890 edition saying:- 'The new Gaiety Music Hall, Chatham, was opened on Monday. It was commenced in March, 1889, and has been built from plans by Mr Geo. Friend, of Maidstone. It is in the High-street of Chatham, and extends back to the river Medway, the depth from back to front being 156ft.

The building has a double entrance from the High-street for the stalls and dress circle, the stalls being on the street level. The gallery has a separate approach, down a side road leading to the river.

The stage is well adapted to the purposes for which it is intended. Its dimensions are 42ft. by 22ft. ; beneath are dressing-rooms, conveniently arranged and well lighted and ventilated. Ample means of egress are provided in case of fire or panic, all the doors opening outward, and being fitted with special fastenings.

There are two large stage boxes, and one large box over same on either side of the dress circle. On the dress circle there is a retiring-room where tea and coffee and other refreshments can be supplied, and over the stage there is another large room for similar purposes.

As far as possible the building has been made fire-proof, and several hydrants are fixed in the interior. The foundations, of concrete, have been carried right down to the bed of the river. The roof is formed of iron and concrete, and in the centre, over the hall, there is a large dome.

The interior decorations are of a pleasing character, the colours being chiefly light blue and gold. Along the fronts of the circle and balcony are electric lamps. A powerful electric globe is also used for illumination. In case of a failure of the electric light gas can be utilised. The best seats are upholstered in light blue plush, others are in red plush. The style of the architecture is Italian, freely treated. The hall has a seating capacity of about 1,500.

It was quickly filled on Monday, and Mr Wilton Ford, the chairman, was received with applause. Walter Burgess, the comedian, sang a couple of good songs, ere he gave way to Griffin and Langan "flying tailors," whose comicalities caused roars of laughter, their dancing evoking considerable applause. A pleasing turn was furnished by Polly Newbury, serio-comedienne and dancer, who sang admirably and danced with spirit and grace. Charles Osborne, author and vocalist, showed ability in both lines. Lottie Swinburne, ballad vocalist, displayed her possession of a strong voice, and a "screaming" sketch, Dimple's Double, by the Paul Courtney combination, created considerable mirth. The next turn was supplied by Hormon, juggler and acrobat, who won warm plaudits from the audience. J. W. Rowley, who followed, had to sing five songs. Ella Dean, double-voiced vocalist, warbled very sweetly, and Mr Will Bint wound up an admirable performance.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 6th September1890.

The Gaiety Music Hall would later be replaced by the Matcham designed Empire Theatre in 1912, see below.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Empire Theatre, 49 High Street, Chatham, Kent

Formerly - The Gaiety Music Hall / Gaiety Theatre

The Empire Theatre was built on the site of the former Gaiety Music Hall on the High Street, Chatham. The Theatre was designed for Oswald Stoll as a variety house by the renowned Theatre Architect, Frank Matcham, and opened on the 18th of March 1912. The exterior was designed in a nautical style and even had a copper pinnacle resembling a sailing ship.

The Empire's auditorium, also in a nautical style, was built on three levels, stalls and pit, dress circle, and gallery, and boxes. The Theatre also had a projection box fitted into the rear of the gallery and films were shown as part of the variety shows from its opening.

The Theatre was equipped with Vitaphone and Fox Movietone sound equipment in 1929 and a Western Electric sound system was later installed in the early 1930s. Although the Theatre continued as a variety house it began showing films when no shows were booked in.

When Oswald Stoll died in 1942 the Theatre closed for a few months until it was reopened with Prince Littler at the helm in April 1942. Littler ran the Theatre as a live Theatre with no films and all the major stars appeared there during this period.

In the 1950s under new management the Empire was converted into a cabaret style venue which saw the stalls seating removed and replaced by tables and chairs but this was not very successful and it was closed in March 1960 after having its electricity supply cut off due to unpaid bills. The Theatre never reopened and it was subsequently demolished, along with the adjoining Empire Cinema and the site is nowadays a car park for an office building called Anchorage House.

There is a photo of the Empire Theatre, Chatham here.

Some of the above information on the Empire Theatre was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

Barnard's Palace of Varieties, High Street, Chatham

Formerly - The Railway Tavern Saloon / Concert Hall

Barnard's Palace of Varieties opened on Monday the 26th of July 1886 and was built on the site of the former Barnard's Concert Hall, which was a Music Hall that had begun life as and adjunct to the town's Railway Tavern. Charles Barnard had taken over the Tavern from its former proprietor, a Mr. Harrison, in 1852 and had added a concert hall to it by 1856 and named it the Railway Tavern Concert Hall, but this was destroyed by fire on the 12th of May 1885.

After the fire which had destroyed the previous building Barnard was back in business again the following year with a grand new Music Hall built on the same site, designed by J. W. Nash of Rochester, which opened on the 26th of July 1886. The ERA reported on the building in their 31st of July 1886 edition saying:- 'Messrs L. and Chas. L. Barnard's New Palace of Varieties, which has been built upon the site of the hall destroyed by fire a few months ago, was opened with great success on Monday, with the following company of talented artists:- Mr George Pearson, topical vocalist; Miss Florrie Deveen, serio.comic and dancer; Miss Lizzie Valrose, male impersonator; Phillips Trio, "The Three Comical Cards;" Mr Arthur Alexander, "the comic Irving;" Males' comic ballet The Mid- night Serenade; Julia Parkes, burlesque actress and dancer; Mons. Venaro and Mdlle. Zolla, gymnasts.

The work of rebuilding was commenced last October, and was greatly retarded by the severe frosts in the winter. When we say that the contract for the erection of the hall, &c.; was intrusted to Messrs Nayiar and Son, the well-known builders, we have said sufficient to show that the work in every branch of the building trade has been well and satisfactorily carried out. J. W. Nash of Rochester, was the architect; and his plans gave a great satisfaction to all concerned. The attentive and obliging clerk of works was Mr G. E. Bond, architect, of Rochester, and he has shown much ability in superintending the whole of the works. The contractors' price was, roughly speaking, £4,500; and Messrs Barnard have had to provide scenery, fittings, &c. No money has been spared to make the hall comfortable and attractive, and we wish Messrs Barnard every success with their large undertaking.

Internally the building is commodious and airy, and all the latest improvements have been successfully introduced. Accommodation has been provided for about 1,100 persons. There is a capital pit with promenade at back, a roomy circle, with balcony, private boxes, and promenade, and there is also a gallery, with promenade. The whole building is well lighted with gas, and has an excellent pitch.

There is a commodious stage, well fitted up, with a depth of 26ft. The proscenium opening is 26ft. wide, and 26ft. 6in. high. At the top, in the centre, is a bust of the great author Charles Dickens, well executed in plaster by Mr Bond. For the band there is special accommodation, and the chairman's throne will be in the centre of the orchestra. Under the stage are several dressing rooms, &c.

In a music hall, of course, refreshments are a sine qua non, and at the back of the circle and the pit are elaborately fitted up refreshment bars. The occupants of the lofty gallery will have their potations supplied by means of a patent lift, running from the floor of the pit. Messrs Merryweather, of London, have fitted up in the entrance hall and on the stage stand-pipes in connection with the water main in the street in case of an outbreak of fire. Mr Wilson, the well known scenic artist, of Portsmouth, has designed and executed in a praiseworthy manner the whole of the scenery, stage decorations, &c., and the work of fitting up the same has been satisfactorily carried out by Mr Privette, stage-manager at Mr D. Barnard's Amphitheatre Portsmouth. The gas fittings, and those in the entrance hall are very fine, and have been supplied by Messrs Hodges, of Hatton-garden, London. The seats in the circle and promenade were supplied by Messrs Rubery and Stockwell, theatre furnishers, of London and the seats in the pit and gallery were provided by the builders. The refreshment-bars have been fitted up by Mr Lemon, of Chatham.

We think we have said sufficient to show that the town of Chatham is now possessed of one of the best music halls for many miles around, and certainly the best in the county of Kent. We should add that in the front of the hall and above the entrance thereto Mr L. Barnard has a private residence. The whole of the sanitary arrangements are excellent. As in times gone by there will be two "houses" each night - the first entertainment will commence at a quarter-past six o'clock, and the second shortly before nine o'clock. Mr Wilton Vord will resume his old post, that of chairman; and Mr W. T. Williams will be the musical director. The band will consist of ten performers. An old acquaintance will be missed from the orchestra by patrons of the old hall - Mr Farley, who was the leader for over twenty years; is engaged at the Portsmouth Amphitheatre. Mr Galleon, an old member of the music hall profession, has received the appointment of stage-manager. '

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 31st of July 1886.

The success of this music hall later enabled the Barnard's to erect a new Theatre in Chatham, opposite the Palace of Varieties, called the Theatre Royal, which opened as a playhouse on the 31st of July 1899 with a production of 'The Liars'.

If you have any more information or images for Barnard's Palace of Varieties that you are willing to share please Contact me.

The Chatham Town Hall, The Brook, Chatham

Later - The Medway Arts Centre / Brook Theatre

A Google StreetView Image of the Brook Theatre, Chatham, formerly the Chatham Town Hall - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the former Chatham Town Hall now the Brook Theatre - Click to Interact

The Chatham Town Hall opened in January 1900 and was designed by George E. Bond who also designed Chatham's Theatre Royal which opened 6 months earlier in July 1899. On the first floor of the Town Hall was a multi-purpose Hall with its own Stage which was used for a variety of functions and events over the ensuing years. When the City Council officials relocated to Strood nearby the building was left empty until it was reopened as the Medway Arts Centre in 1987. Ten years later in April 1997 it was reopened as the Brook Theatre.

The Theatres Trust says of the Town Hall Building today that:- 'The building is imposing, in English Renaissance style, of Monk's Park ashlar and Portland stone, with a tall square clock tower with a green dome, and loggia above the entrance at one corner. Four figures surmounting the main entrance represent Justice, Britannia, Agriculture and Music. The main foyer has marble mosaic floors, wainscott oak doors and surrounds, with the grand staircase constructed from white Sicilian marble. At ground floor level is a box office, management offices, rooms adapted for dance, meetings and galleries for display... There is an elaborate plaster ceiling and original light-fittings, taking the form of large leaded glass lanterns. On the same level is the Globe, the old council chamber, now adapted as a studio for 60 on loose seating. Here the decorative balcony is intact, and again with a good ceiling and light fittings.' - The Theatres Trust.

The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on the proposed Chatham Town Hall in their December 4th 1896 edition, along with some very nice sketches and plans of the building, all of which can be seen below.

 

The Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

The Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

Above - The Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

The site for the above is at the end of the Military-road, in front of St. Mary’s National Schools. It was purchased by the corporation from the War Department, and is in every sense a good position, one of its chief advantages being that it will have a good carriage-road on each of its four sides.

The municipal offices are all arranged on the ground floor, opening out from spacious corridors, with good and convenient lavatory accommodation. On this floor are also two committee rooms, one large and the other a smaller one. The large one has a special staircase communicating with the town hall above, and may be used as a supper-room upon occasions when the town hall is let for a ball or party.

The Ground Floor Plan of the Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

Above - The Ground Floor Plan of the Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

The first floor is entirely taken up with the town hall, council chamber, and mayor’s parlour, with staircases, lavatories, &c. This floor is approached by a broad flight of marble steps leading from the entrance hall. There are also three other staircases arranged as entrances and exits to and from the town hall.

The First Floor Plan of the Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

Above - The First Floor Plan of the Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

Over the back of the hall is a gallery capable of seating about 150 persons. Opening from the platform at the other end of the room are ladies’ and gentlemen’s retiring-rooms, with proper lavatory accommodation, and above these is a large room for an orchestra, with a projecting balcony front, an arched opening, 25ft. wide, connecting this room with the hall. This is well shown in the interior view of hall as illustrated.

The Interior of the Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

Above - The Interior of the Chatham Town Hall - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

Caretaker’s premises are provided on the second floor, over the landing and mayor’s parlour. Ample storage is provided in the basement, and also rooms for engine and dynamo, kitchen, &c., and heating apparatus. The heating will be by low-pressure hot water, and the lighting by electricity. The buildings will be faced with Monks’ Park stone, with Portland stone dressings and weatherings. Mr. George E. Bond, M.S.A., of Rochester, is the architect.

The above article on the Chatham Town Hall, and its accompanying images, was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal of December 4th 1896.

The Chatham Town Hall is today in use as a Theatre and Arts Centre called the Brook Theatre.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.