Sort file:- Chatham, November, 2021.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 06 November, 2021.


Earliest 1852-


Latest 1861+

Big Drum, Fair Row


Fair Row

Above photo, date unknown, showing Fair Row.


The earliest premises with this name in Fair Row burnt to the ground at the end of 1852, but was apparently rebuilt soon after with a Music Hall attached.


Kent Gazette, 28 December 1852.

Chatham. Fire.

On Monday morning at about half past 1 o'clock, a fire broke out in the tap-room of the "Victoria Saloon," in Fair Row, kept by Mr. Leader. The family it appears, retired to rest at about 12 o'clock, and Mrs. Leader was first awoke by the coughing of her infant, and perceiving an unusual glare of light, hastened to the bedroom door, on opening which, she found flames ascending from the lower part of the house, leaving her family no other means of escape, but by the windows, which they fortunately affected in their night dresses.

Boys, a policeman on duty near the spot, rendered every assistance in his power, but except the lives of the inmates nothing was saved, and before the engines arrived, the only vestiges of the saloon left standing, were two stacks of chimneys.

The stock and premises were insured in the County fire office. The Kent, Sun, and Royal Marine fire engines were speedily on the spot, and proved a great service in the preservation of contiguous property. However, the premises of Mr. Kemp, coal merchant, were entirely destroyed, as well as a small brewery lately in the occupation of Mr. Edwin Wickham; and so rapid was the progress of the flames, that it was with difficulty that Mrs. Kemp saved the life of her bed-ridden father.

The property of Mr. Kent was insured in the Kent Mutual.

The extent of the damage done is the destruction of the above premises, considerably injury to an adjoining cottage, to a house occupied by Mr. Jackson, on the Brook, the Ragged School, and a shed in the timber yard of Mr. Dunk.

A strong body of military were present, and rendered very efficient service.

The wind was blowing a strong gale at the time, and it was with difficulty that the burning premises were approached.


South Eastern Gazette 6 September 1859.


The well-known Beer-House called the "Victoria Music Hall," "Big Drum," Fair-Row, Chatham, with immediate possession. Two large Concert Rooms on the premises; one (the largest ), the property of the advertiser, fitted up with stage, scenery, etc., and in which a concert is now carried on every evening; it is capable of holding 350 persons. The upper concert room is capable of holding 250 persons. The house contains bar, bar parlour, 4 bed-rooms, parlour, and tap-room. Present rent 32; doing a good business. The proprietor wishes to leave in consequence of ill-health. Good references can be given. Coming-in moderate (by fair valuation).

Address: H. J. R., Big Drum, Fair-Row, Chatham. No persons need apply unless they mean business.


I also have a "Victoria" listed as being at nearby King Street which may be the same premises.

The census of 1861 suggests that the address is between 240 and 238 High Street and the name George Mercer as Beer House Keeper.



LEADER James 1851-52+ (age 34 in 1851Census)

MERCER George 1861+ (age 50 in 1861Census)




If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-