George Bond - Architect - Theatre Royal ChathamThe Theatre Royal was designed by the architect George Bond who lived locally. It caught the mood of its period, with an impressive facade of terracotta dominating the rather narrow street frontage. The eye is drawn up to the two little MTheatre Royal Chatham - Auditoriumoorish cupolas on the roof which add an exotic feel to an otherwise suburban townscape. The owners of the building were local impresarios C and L Barnard who owned a music hall nearby and who wanted to provide a venue for more serious forms of entertainment in the Medway Towns.

The theatre opened in July 1899 with a performance of 'The Liars'. With 3000 seats it was by far the largest public building in the area and was lavish in its interior appointments. A new road had to be constructed up a hill to the rear of the building, not only to cater for the carriages and cars that brought patrons from miles around but also to allow enough emergency exits to the side and rear.

After a few months it was obvious that more serious entertainment could not alone keep the building open, so a more varied programme of concerts, plays, shows and circuses was introduced. In 1913 it was one of the earliest theatres in the area to be equipped with a back projection cinematic capability.

Theatre Royal Chatham - Performance
In its final days the theatre was particularly popular with local schools who introduced many of their students to live theatre in this wonderful building. Some of the children of fifty years ago were volunteer helpers who of the Theatre Royal Chatham Trust and hoped to see the building reopened for its original purpose. In 1989 The Theatre and its ancillary buildings were listed by the British Government as of Historic and Architectural Interest Grade II.



[Introduction] [History] [Architecture] [People] [Images] [Credits]

Produced by www.historiae.co.uk