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Herne and Broomfield Local History Group

The last two meetings of 2014 were well attended, especially in November when the group welcomed well-known theatrical entertainer Paul Harris to talk about seaside entertainment in past times.

Paul explained how early Al Fresco entertainment started on beaches and in bandstands with the onset of Victorian seaside holidays.

When piers were built – one of the earliest was on the Isle of Wight in 1814 – entertainment moved to the pier pavilions and eventually the family summer shows were born. .These took place around British coastal towns with Blackpool and its three piers hosting the most spectacular shows.

Locally Thanet towns including Margate, where Paul learned the authentic Old-Time Music Hall, were hosting popular shows with well-known celebrities. In its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s Herne Bay had three different shows a week at three venues.

With the advent of motorways and cheaper air fares people were able to travel further afield to seek other types of holidays and entertainment and the seaside holiday and subsequent summer shows declined sharply.

Paul concluded by talking about the history Criterion Theatre, Blue Town, Sheerness, first opened in 1868.

Today the building is administered by a registered charity and the original theatre has been lovingly restored. The lively programme includes music hall variety and pantomimes and tickets include a special cream tea. For information see the website www. thecriterionbluetown.co.uk

At the December meeting, Alan Haines took members back to the Swinging Sixties with his lively animated presentation. On this trip down memory lane members were reminded of Mary Ouant and her mini skirt, the mini cooper, hippies and mods and rockers. Pirate radio stations, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were also on the musical Sixties journey. The evening ended with festive seasonal refreshments. The next meeting of the group will be on Tuesday, February 3 at 7.30pm, when Bygone Beltinge – A look at past scenes of Beltinge Village in past times, will be the subject of an illustrated talk by Margaret Burns. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm at the Institute Hall, Canterbury Road, Herne, opposite Strode Park. New members and visitors (£2) are welcome.

For information contact chairman Alan Dilnot on 01227 373695. The group’s website is https://sites.google.com/site/herneandbroomfieldhistory/home or find us on Facebook; Herne and Broomfield Local History Group.

Herne Bay Gazette, 29th Jan 2015

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