The Grand, Gillingham

This venue opened on Boxing Day 1910 on the corner of Skinner and Jeffery streets. Its entrance, surmounted by a coloured glass canopy, was set diagonally at the junction of the two thoroughfares. A consortium of local businessmen employed Ewan S Barr to design the Grand, which could seat 900 patrons. Its crowning glory was a gilt figure of Venus which Barr placed on the top of the building.

For the first few years, the Grand was primarily a variety theatre with films shown between the live acts. Customers paid 3d or 6d for a seat in the stalls, or 1s in the balcony to watch stars such as Sam Mayo, Marie Kendall and Arthur Roberts.

In 1914, the decision was made to abandon variety and concentrate wholly on films.

The Grand was never absorbed by a syndicate and remained in private hands until its closure.

To try to survive the onslaught of television in the 1950s, it showed continental and “adult” films, but to no avail. It was forced to close in 1960. The site is now occupied by a tyre depot.