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Author Topic: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping  (Read 7262 times)

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Hegel

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2012, 21:03:02 »
I remember the tile shop in the eighties.  After the place became deserted, a few of us gained entrance and put our own padlocks on the Manor Road entrances, subsequently spending a few nights in there during our GCSEs and the summer hols.  We also used to skyve off games and go for sneaky cherry-tobacco roll-ups once we'd secured the place.  This was way before Medway Council (and the Renaissance Partnership) banged the last few nails into the theatre's coffin.

We were originally sleeping over in the High Street facing section, opposite which was then 'Image' - the men's boutique where they made some of the clothes upstairs. By this point, the High Street fašade and shop had been totally separated (bricked-up) from the rearmost, auditorium section.  Furthermore, the stage and backstage areas had further been separated - they were originally situated next door at the law firm/solicitors.   This severing of the auditorium and stage must've happened some time prior to the 80s.  Next door to the law firm (further along towards the Christian bookshop) was the department store, which I believe was called 'Perrings' throughout most of my childhood. 

After venturing out in the small hours during one of our escapades, we noticed that we were only occupying about a third of the building.  Further exploration found us 'ushering and prompting' another door further up Manor Road, which we managed to open without any damage (between my and my class-mates, we had accrued over a thousand keys which we'd found at the old Blaw Knox works on Rochester Esplanade amongst other places).  Remember, this was all pre-CCTV, Criminal Justice Bill and Manor Road drug clinic days so we could be quite candid about our intentions to our parents and those who asked.

Anyway, I don't know if anyone's seen the part in Indiana Jones when the 'Well of Souls' is first opened - well, it was a bit like that.  A stale, gaping tomb with an ascending, velvet-handrailed staircase strewn with tens of pigeon skeletons.  Needless to say we were in there like rats up a drainpipe, complete with candles, cheap cider and a fair dollop of anticipation.

I have very fond memories of the place and the time we spent exploring it.  The auditorium section was huge, perhaps 3 stories, with an additional labyrinthian basement where the boiler room was situated (supposedly haunted by a ghost named 'Humphrey').  The place had a certain majesty, which, although long fallen into ruin, hushed our teenage voices and demanded a certain reverence.  We had prior knowledge of the place and the famous names that had crept her boards and we were all a little awestruck for a while.

The place was very dangerous.  One friend fell through the floor in the upper circle, which slanted at a rather surreal angle as a result of rain damage through the patchy roof.  We did manage to get onto the roof, which was immense fun, and spanned the whole block right up to Shelter.

We were eventually rumbled by the Chinese restaurant owner, who called the police, resulting in two meat wagons and three squad cars skidding to a halt at the back and front of the building.  Strangely enough we chose to hold out, half-giggling, half bricking ourselves in the dark.  The police finally went away after a few hours and we managed to sneak out one at a time and get away scot free.  It was shortly after this we stopped going there.

Great memories.  It's such a shame that it's now gone.  May its absence server as a reminder of the greed and short-sightedness of our council.  It's just one victim in a long line of cold, calculated heritage executions.

Offline Megapack162

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2010, 15:30:02 »
Quote
After the Theatre Royal closed as a theatre it was a Halfords shop, and was also a camping equipment shop at some time
Mid to late 70's, the upper floor (& possibly ground floor as well?) was a sports shop. Can't remember the name but myself & a few schoolmates started a Sunday football team & we bought the entire kit from there.

Hi numanfan,

I think that you'll find that the sports shop was called Leisuresports or Leisure Sports, used to get my running shoes from there when I was a teen...

Got my first real (as opposed to fixed wheel) bike from there when it was Halfords, a Raleigh Chipper in about 1970 or 71.

Also, as I recall it was ABC in the late 70s /early 80s and Cannon much later (1986ish) when Golan Globus bought out ABC http://www.cannon.org.uk/cannoncinemas.htm

Offline peterchall

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2010, 16:52:53 »
I think the left wing was turned into a department store/bank? Sometime in the 80's they tried to get the place reopened as a theatre
I remember it as a camping shop and wasn't the facade done up by the council to advertise their services or something about 10-15 years ago too?  I remember posters and stuff on the outside front of the ground floor.
There was a bank next door to the theatre, and next door to that was a department store, and it was
 in that window that the council put advertisements. The department store was 'Harwoods', and I've got recollections that before then it was occupied by Woolworths.
[/quote]

This picture (Reply#9) shows the bank next to the theatre. The department store was next to that, now demolished to make way for the bus route from Railway Street to Medway Street. http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=3119.0
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline Lyn L

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 12:31:29 »
I have a feeling that at one time there was also a Tile shop there, himself agree's. The Camping shop must have been around in the early 60s, as one of the women I worked with at Rix's in Gillingham, went there as Manageress when Rix's closed down and was there for a good few years.
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

seafordpete

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 12:14:15 »
Both floors were in use when it was a sports shop. The upper floor had erected tents on show; we chose a tent there because we could see it already erected. I think the shop moved further down the High Street towards Rochester,

There were two Camping shops there on either side of the High St, the one on the South side later moved about 10 doors along in the Strood direction. Think one was Castle camping (or was that the Bowling Alley at Watling St?)

Offline peterchall

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2010, 11:36:39 »
Both floors were in use when it was a sports shop. The upper floor had erected tents on show; we chose a tent there because we could see it already erected. I think the shop moved further down the High Street towards Rochester, down an alley opposite Gundulph Road or thereabouts.

I think Halfords were there first, not long after the end of the war. My (very shaky) memory says they had the big stuff, like bikes etc, on the top floor.

I think the left wing was turned into a department store/bank? Sometime in the 80's they tried to ge
t the place reopened as a theatre
I remember it as a camping shop and wasn't the facade done up by the council to advertise their services or something about 10-15 years ago too?  I remember posters and stuff on the outside front of the ground floor.

There was a bank next door to the theatre, and next door to that was a department store, and it was in that window that the council put advertisements. The department store was 'Harwoods', and I've got recollections that before then it was occupied by Woolworths.

It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline numanfan

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2010, 08:35:43 »
Quote
After the Theatre Royal closed as a theatre it was a Halfords shop, and was also a camping equipment shop at some time
Mid to late 70's, the upper floor (& possibly ground floor as well?) was a sports shop. Can't remember the name but myself & a few schoolmates started a Sunday football team & we bought the entire kit from there.
www.move2medway.co.uk - take the journey

Scrumdown

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2010, 08:12:43 »
I remember it as a camping shop and wasn't the facade done up by the council to advertise their services or something about 10-15 years ago too?  I remember posters and stuff on the outside front of the ground floor.  I'm assuming huge parts of it were shut off to the Halfords/camping shop when they were there as I think only the front part was involved in trading?

Solarp

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Re: Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2010, 23:18:30 »
I think the left wing was turned into a department store/bank? Sometime in the 80's they tried to get the place reopened as a theatre

Offline peterchall

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Theatre Royal/Halfods/Camping
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010, 22:25:52 »
After the Theatre Royal closed as a theatre it was a Halfords shop, and was also a camping equipment shop at some time, but I can't remember the name. Does anyone know the appropriate dates?
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

 

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