The present Heritage Centre is on the site of 2 earlier establishments. Originally the "New Inn" in 1868 the site became "The Royal Oxford Music Hall". The following year the building, which is situated a few doors down from the court house, became The Criterion public house, with a music hall called 'The Palace of Varieties' situated immediately to its rear. This offered "rational amusement for all classes" including in April 1876, a one armed juggler! In 1879 the earlier building was replaced with a brick built one.
The above paragraph is just a sampler of the history the Blue Town Heritage Centre and The Criterion Music Hall have waiting for you to discover for just £2 entry. Indeed there is so much waiting for you to discover here you'll be suprised what you didn't know!
The heritage centre itself is jam packed with items, memorabilia and artefacts so once you have absorbed all of the amazing feats of history our island was responsible for, why not relax in our comfortable cafe and enjoy our famous Cream Tea's.
The main space at the centre and our pride and joy is The Criterion. After being damaged and falling into disrepair, following a German bombing raid in WW1, the room has now been lovingly restored over the past few years to its new found glory and continues its main purpose of entertaining the public once again with a wide variety of entertainments.
For more information call us on 01795 662981
Open Thursday to Saturday 10am - 3pm and for events.
Entrance is £2.00 school age children are free
The centre is proud to be a part of the Wheels of Time scheme, where children can collect a badge from 25 museums across Kent. We are also members of the Swale museums group and are partners in KCC's Children's University passport scheme. To find out more ask any of our volunteers.
Entrance is free to "Friends", to become a "Friend" costs just £5.00 a year, for this you receive information before it goes onto the website and invites to special "Friends" only events plus a regular newsletter.
Our theatre 'The CRITERION' stages professional Victorian style MUSIC HALL shows (2x Seasons per year), CINEMA Every Friday and THEATRE and LIVE MUSIC Shows, it is also available for your own Private Hire.
Why not celebrate your special occasion in our unique building, we can also provide the catering and bar facilities too.
Below is a picture of the quater deck of HMS Victory. All our volunteers at the Blue Town Heritage Centre have been working very hard to remodel the first floor as an educational replica of the HMS Victory quater deck.
The idea of this development is to give you a little taste of what life was like back then with cramped, dark, hard living conditions and the surgeons room close-by littered with dismembered body parts and the poor souls blood spattered on the walls!
Below are a few pictures of the now completed replica of the quater deck of the HMS Victory complete with a full sized cannon!
There is also a large outside door on this floor leading out to our roof garden and bringing into the building a lovely fresh
summer breeze during the hotter months of the year.