From Gerry and the Pacemakers to tiny tots taking their first steps on stage, the King’s Hall has hosted thousands of performers in more than 100 years.
The seafront venue celebrated its centenary in 2013 and is still at the heart of Herne Bay’s social life with plenty planned this year, including tribute acts and comedian Jimmy Jones.
It is also licensed for weddings and can be hired for parties or corporate events, with a capacity of more than 600 – find out what’s on at http://hernebaycoastalpark.org/locations/kings-hall/
The Kings Hall was originally built as a bandstand, gifted to the town by Thomas Dence, who moved to Herne Bay for his health and bought the Downs. He laid out roads at the top and built himself a house, and his legacy is remembered with nearby Dence Park.
Mr Dence sold the sloping land back to the council and suggested a pavilion could be built, with a verandah on the roof and a reading room.
He paid almost all of the £4,000 cost of the pavilion and handed it over formally to the town in April 1904.
In 1912, the pavilion was extended by removing part of the cliff and became a theatre, concert hall and dance hall. The roof had tiered seating for deck chairs and a bandstand for outdoor performances.
The building was named The King Edward VII Memorial Hall after Queen Alexandra, the king’s widow, gave her blessing. Princess Beatrice, the king’s sister, came to Herne Bay on July 10, 1913 to perform the official opening ceremony.
She requested that local children were involved, so every school pupil aged between five and 14 received a flag and a souvenir bronze medallion to mark the occasion. They then marched to the King’s Hall to be presented to the Princess.
The hall remained largely unchanged for years but in the 1920s the stage inside was moved from the south wall. The pavilion was demolished in the 1960s.
An arson attack in October 2000 closed the venue for two months for repairs and redecoration. A new access road was built in October 2001.
It has featured on television, as the Marine Pavilion in BBC comedy series Cockles, starring Joan Sims, and Sky filmed Extreme World Wrestling at the hall in 2002.
The opening ceremony inspired celebrations to mark the centenary in 2013, with replica medallions handed out to children. They also joined councillors and invited guests for a lunch based on the original menu served in 1913.
The celebrations were staged by community groups, coordinated by Herne Bay Historical Records Society, and two books were published to mark the occasion.
Herne Bay in Bloom volunteers created a centenary garden by the Barnes Wallis statue, and there was an Edwardian show organised by Herne Bay Conservation and Improvement Trust with a range of acts, as well as a community party and GI day.