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The present Heritage Centre is on the site of 2 earlier establishments. Originally the “New Inn” in 1868 the site became “The Royal Oxford Music Hall”. The following year the building became The Criterion public house, with a music hall called ‘The Palace of Varieties’ situated immediately to its rear.

This offered “rational amusement for all classes” including in April 1876, a one armed juggler! In 1879 the earlier building was replaced with a brick built one.

The above paragraph is just a sampler of the history the Criterion Bluetown and Blue Town Heritage Centre have waiting for you to discover, entrance is free, donations gratefully received. Indeed there is so much waiting for you to discover here you’ll be surprised what you didn’t know!

The heritage centre itself is jam packed with items, memorabilia and artefacts so once you have absorbed all of the amazing feats of history our island was responsible for, why not relax in our newly refurbished Tea Room and enjoy a lovely Cream Tea.

The main space at the centre and our pride and joy is the Music Hall. After being damaged and falling into disrepair, following a German bombing raid in WW1, the room has now been lovingly restored over the past few years to its new found glory and continues its main purpose of entertaining the public once again with a wide variety of entertainments.

  • For more information call us on 01795 662981
  • Open Thursday & Friday 10am – 3pm
  • Saturday 10am – 1pm and for events out of hours
  • Entrance free, Donations gratefully received
  • The centre is proud to be a part of the Wheels of Time scheme, where children can collect a badge from 40 museums across Kent.
  • We are also members of the Historic Swale and are partners in KCC’s Children’s University passport scheme. To find out more ask any of our volunteers.
  • Entrance is free to “Friends”,
  • Our “Friends” receive information before it goes onto the website and invites to special “Friends” only events plus a regular newsletter. All for £10 a single or £15 a couple for Gold membership.
  • Our theatre ‘The CRITERION’ stages professional seasonal shows
  • Cinema every Friday . THEATRE and LIVE MUSIC shows as well as party nights.
  • Ukulele club every Thursday morning 10.30 – 12 (new members welcome)
  • Knit & Natter every Friday 10.30 – 12 (open to all)
  • The Criterion is available for Private Hire. Please call for details


This is a picture of the quater deck of HMS Victory. All our volunteers at the Blue Town Heritage Centre have been working very hard to remodel the first floor as an educational replica of the HMS Victory quater deck.

The idea of this development is to give you a little taste of what life was like back then with cramped, dark, hard living conditions !

Below are a few pictures of the now completed replica of the quater deck of the HMS Victory complete with a full sized cannon!

There is also a large outside door on this floor leading out to our roof garden and bringing into the building a lovely fresh summer breeze during the hotter months of the year.


a train on a steel track