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Music hall star Roy Hudd reopens Blue Town's Criterion Theatre


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Veteran entertainer Roy Hudd officially reopened the Criterion Theatre at Blue Town yesterday (Thursday) after a £34,000 revamp.

The president of the British Music Hall Society cut a ribbon of 'barbed wire' to open a new exhibition gallery packed with memorabilia of days gone by including one of the first TV sets, a tape recorder, piano, gramophone, gas cooker and typewriter.

Volunteers led by Jenny Hurkett have spent £34,000 squeezing a third level into the 150-year-old building, which was once a music hall, to create offices and an archive for Blue Town history and Sheerness Docks after being turned down for a £300 Heritage Lottery bid.

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Jenny Hurkett and volunteer John Vernel hold the 'barbed wire' ribbon as veteran comic Roy Hudd opens the new floor and display at the Blue Town Heritage Centre, Sheerness on Thursday. Picture: Chris Davey. (2562242)
Jenny Hurkett and volunteer John Vernel hold the 'barbed wire' ribbon as veteran comic Roy Hudd opens the new floor and display at the Blue Town Heritage Centre, Sheerness on Thursday. Picture: Chris Davey. (2562242)

After the ceremony, Mr Hudd, 82, who presented The News Huddlines radio show, talked about his 60-year career in showbusiness with the help of his wife Debbie Flitcroft to a sell-out audience who had paid £25 a ticket.

He said: "This is my first trip to Sheppey and the Criterion and my first experience of a reborn music hall. It is just terrific and knock-out what everyone has done.It's a miracle how they have brought it back to life."

Roy Hudd, president of the British Music Hall Society with vice-chairman Dean Caston, who directs the Criterion music halls at Blue Town Heritage Centre, Sheerness on Thursday. Picture: Chris Davey. (2562257)
Roy Hudd, president of the British Music Hall Society with vice-chairman Dean Caston, who directs the Criterion music halls at Blue Town Heritage Centre, Sheerness on Thursday. Picture: Chris Davey. (2562257)

The next 'big name' at the theatre will be its patron, self-styled 60s' heart-throb Jess Conrad, fresh from filming the TV show Live from Las Vegas, on Saturday, July 21. The music hall shows, presented by comedian Paul Harris, return in the autumn.

The building, which was destroyed by a German bomb in the First World War 101 years ago, also includes the studios of Rotary Radio UK led by John Robinson and Steve Wood from Sittingbourne.

Steve Wood and John Robinson from Sittingbourne will be running Rotary Radio UK from studios in the Blue Town Heritage Centre and Criterion Theatre, Sheerness (2566342)
Steve Wood and John Robinson from Sittingbourne will be running Rotary Radio UK from studios in the Blue Town Heritage Centre and Criterion Theatre, Sheerness (2566342)

The internet radio service is expected to go live in September from www.rotaryradiouk.org

Robin Wells, Kathy Stiff and Claire Wells at the new box office at the Blue Town Heritage Centre and Criterion Theatre, Sheerness (2566340)
Robin Wells, Kathy Stiff and Claire Wells at the new box office at the Blue Town Heritage Centre and Criterion Theatre, Sheerness (2566340)
Volunteer archivists James Pender, left, and Malcolm Gibbs fro Minster at the Blue Town Heritage Centre and Criterion Theatre, Sheerness (2566336)
Volunteer archivists James Pender, left, and Malcolm Gibbs fro Minster at the Blue Town Heritage Centre and Criterion Theatre, Sheerness (2566336)
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