So why not be a tourist in your own town?

Swale Tourism

7th September 2020

Jenny Hurkett Founder of The Criterion

Jenny Hurkett - Founder and Manager at The Criterion

The Criterion Blue Town - Be Part of Our Covid Recovery

Jenny Hurkett, Founder and Manager at The Criterion shares her story and appeals for residents to be tourists in their own towns after lockdown. Rediscover, take another look and support our local attractions, eateries and be surprised at what is on your doorstep.

"At first the enforced closure was traumatic but Swale Borough Council came to the rescue. This breathing space allowed us to hope and apply for grants, so far we have been successful with Historic England, The South East Museums Development Agency, and the Kent Community fund. This support not only gave us hope but affirmation that what we have been doing has been appreciated.

So it was good to see our regulars back, some were here 10 mins after we opened. Then to our surprise we had visitors from all over the country – they found us via Tripadvisor. For 11 years we have grown because of word of mouth but we never expected this to happen in Lockdown.

The financial support meant that we could not only survive, but we could look to the future, as well as making the venue Covid compliant.

Whilst doing the changes we took a long hard look at the layout of the heritage offer and music hall and made some dramatic changes. We think this has improved the visitor experience by increasing the size of the tearoom/bar area to 40 seats and the heritage displays by a third. Most of the work was at zero cost as we recycled and had help in kind.
Because of social distancing we can only hold half the audience so we need to grow the business by increasing our visitor numbers. We have taken the plunge and are working with a marketing company to bring in groups and coach parties for 2021.

It would be lovely if the residents of Swale came and supported us and the other museums and attractions in the borough this year. It would mean so much to the volunteers and staff of these venues to feel that they are appreciated.

So why not be a tourist in your own town?

Families can take part in the Wheels of Time scheme and the children can collect badges from 15 museums in the borough.

We are a community cinema every Friday as well as a heritage centre. Our shows range from streamings of Andre Rieu concerts to live jazz and murder mystery evenings. We also host lectures once a month and do walks and tours of the area.

To find out about the Criterion Music Hall and Blue Town Heritage Centre and the Wheels of time scheme see Visit Swale or our website or call 01795 662981 or email:

We are open Thursday to Saturday 10am until 3pm at the moment for the Heritage Centre and Tea Room, note performance or screening times for entertainment at The Criterion Theatre/Cinema".

Search for more local attractions in Faversham, Sittingbourne and on the Isle of Sheppey on our 'See and Do' pages.