Sheppey & Criterion Theatre 28/3/2019 - Tonbridge U3A-Travel

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Sheppey & Criterion Theatre 28/3/2019

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THERE ARE NO PRIZES FOR GUESSING THE SONG TITLES but don't let that stop you trying!

On behalf of Jill & I, I email to thank you and your team for a splendid day out on Thursday. The day totally dispelled the myth that the Isle of Sheppey is the back of beyond and "why on earth do you want to go there?" which we had from several of our friends!!!!! We were fascinated by the Criterion and may well return for another of their cream tea shows or an evening fish and chip show.       
Peter Thompson
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We had a delightful day in the most unlikely of settings.  After collecting a full complement of TU3A members our jovial coach driver, Junior, drove us north and over the bridge to Sheppey.  With a few exceptions the general view of Sheppey is not one that appeals to many, but this day we saw another side to the island.  Once past the new Aldi distribution area, we arrived at Blue Town, which, although appearing dilapidated and is very close to the dusty remnants of the old steel works, had a wonderful beating heart.
The reason why the area is alive and kicking is due to the amazing work of volunteers, led by Ian and Jenny Hurkett, who have transformed their kitchen and bathroom showroom back into its original life – as a Heritage Centre which is the Criterion Theatre and Museum full of artefacts gathered and donated from the island and the nearby historic Royal Dockyard.  This was where we went back in time; after a welcome cup of tea/coffee and biscuits we browsed around the packed museum examining hundreds of things like ‘Nelson’s cabin’,  model ships, charts, a canon and newspaper cuttings.  There was also a very large ‘rivet’ taken from HMS Bulwark!
Jenny then joined us on the coach and talked us through a most informative guided tour of the island, during which we stopped for lunch at the Aviator.  Who knew the origin of Wright and his flying machine was on Sheppey?!   On returning to Blue Town we were taken into the theatre at the rear of the building, where tables were laid up with the delicious tea we were to have later in the afternoon.
Once seated we were entertained by a most amusing MC who introduced the singers/actors who sang and acted their way through a familiar selection of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, accompanied by a most proficient lady pianist, who made almost as much ‘music’ as an orchestra.
In the interval tea and coffee was brought round by volunteers, and we all tucked into our cakes, savouries and cream scones, the remains of which were whisked away ready for the second half of songs from the musicals.
It was a terrific day out, and we felt we could appreciate the Isle of Sheppey a little more, with its lovely countryside and interesting history.  The volunteers of the Heritage Archives and Theatre are to be congratulated on all their hard work over the years. Thank you to everyone who made the day possible.
Lois Mitchell
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Thank you and the team for a wonderful day out.  Who would have thought there was so much to see and learn about on the Isle of Sheppey ( a place I’ve never been to before!)
Pauline Langley
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Just wanted to thank you for organising this trip – it all went so well  and was very enjoyable.  I have never been to Sheppey before and it was  so interesting to see the combination of commercial and holiday  activities, combined with two large prisons!  The Aviator Pub did well  to cope with a large party and I really enjoyed my chicken lunch.   I  was so impressed with the Criterion theatre and museum with so many  enthusiastic volunteers running it.  They were so friendly and helpful  and the concert was excellent, all my favourite music from the Rogers  and Hammerstein musicals with excellent performers.
Pam Booty
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Thank you to everyone who has written to us about this trip and contributed photographs
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