The Invicta Cinemas

Medway’s three Invictas were owned by the Croneen brothers of Gillingham.

The first to open, on Easter Monday 1914 was the 600 seat Gillingham Invicta situated at the western end of the High Street. To make way for this new venture, the brothers demolished a row of cottages which lay between the Lord Hardinge pub and a jeweller’s shop, both of which were owned by the family.

As designed by EJ Hammond, the first of the Invictas had a 38 feet frontage and extended back 100 feet. Films were projected onto a plaster screen which was proud of the rear wall.

In 1931, the Croneens rented out the former cinema as a variety theatre, renaming it the Coliseum. It closed in 1934. The building eventually became a car showroom.

In 1916, the brothers opened a second Invicta in Fullager’s Yard off Chatham High Street. This was larger than their Gillingham premises and could accommodate nearly 1000 filmgoers.

The Croneens sold the Chatham Invicta in 1929 to help finance the building of the Plaza in Gillingham. It closed as a cinema in 1939, but the building survived, eventually becoming a Bingo and Social Club. It was demolished in the 1980s.

The third Invicta was situated in Strood High Street near its junction with Station Road.

It opened in 1919, but the brothers sold it a mere twelve years later, again to help finance the Plaza project. Post Second World War audiences knew this cinema as the Wardona.