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Various Cinemas in the Medway towns

A sad end awaits Medway's forlorn looking cinemas and theatres in Alan Stingemore's short film from the 1980s. Which ones will succumb to the bulldozers and which will survive?

Amateur film 1986 2 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


This short film from Alan Stingemore begins with the demolition of a small suburban cinema in an unknown location. We then visit a sad looking Palace Cinema on the Chatham side of Watling Street. Still in Chatham, we see what was once the Theatre Royal, now a ceramic tile shop, before visiting a new housing development in Rochester which replaced the cinema that once occupied the site. Finally, we see Herne Bay's seafront on a sunny day with the clock tower and the Pier Pavilion.

Happily, a number of the cinemas featured in this film have managed to escape the bulldozer. Chatham's Palace Cinema, later renamed the Gaumont, still exists today as a camping equipment superstore. Opened in 1936 the Palace was unusual in that it was not built in the town centre but in the suburbs, close to new housing estates. It was also sited close to the border with Gillingham, a town which had previously voted against cinemas being opened on Sundays, and thus enabled customers from the town to see films on the Sabbath. Meanwhile, Chatham's Theatre Royal, despite being derelict for many years, has been redeveloped into housing with the facade and front-of-house retained.