Cinema Web: Cadoux to Currambine

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Cadoux Calingiri Cannington
Capel Cardiff Carlisle
Carnamah Carnarvon Chandler
Channar Chidlow Chittering
Christmas Island Claremont Cockatoo Island
Collie Como Coolgardie
Coorow Corrigin Cottesloe
Cowaramup Cranbrook Crawley
Cue Cunderdin Currambine

CADOUX

HALL

Vic Basham introduced films to Cadoux, screening fortnightly in the hall and building a gardens in the late fifties. He ceased screening in the town after the hall was destroyed by an earthquake.

Sources:
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Vic Basham (1997)

CALINGIRI

AGRICULTURAL HALL, Cavell St, Calingiri

Calingiri townsite was officially gazetted in January 1917, and the community constructed a hall, using voluntary labour, very soon after. It opened in November 1918, but at the end of 1923 a violent storm so damaged the building that extensive repairs were needed. Nevertheless, films were screened there in 1924. In January 1926, another cyclone destroyed the hall completely, and a new building was opened, on 14 October 1926 – still a small timber hall, without a built-in bio-box. Films were screened here too, though it is not clear when screenings began, and they may have ceased for a time in the thirties and early forties. The hall was on Fitzgerald’s circuit in the late forties and early fifties, then briefly on Lew Punch’s circuit in the middle fifties, and it is not clear when screenings ceased.

That hall was demolished before the new Recreation Hall was opened in Yulgering Rd on 29 March 1980. The Shire Caravan Park now stands on the site of the old hall.

Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1948/9 – 1956/7
Rica Erickson, The Victoria Plains, Lamb Paterson, Osborne Park 1971, pp.114-5, 119-120
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, p.103
Photos: 1 interior (old hall), colour, n.d., Shire of Victoria Plains
1 exterior (old hall), colour, n.d., Shire of Victoria Plains

CANNINGTON

CANNINGTON PUBLIC HALL, Albany Hwy, Cannington

Canning Road Board was founded in 1871, and in 1907 divided into Queens Park Road Board and Gosnells Road Board, with also some of the district going to Belmont and Darling Range. The (Queens Park) Town Hall, with new offices adjoining, was built in 1909, but there must have been a hall in the district earlier than this, where Stevenson’s Royal Biograph exhibited ´40 biographs and 50 limelight views’ on 10 October 1904 (perhaps the Agricultural Hall?).

The Board was renamed Canning District Road Board in 1921, and in 1926 the old offices were demolished and new ones built in front of the Town Hall, which was also extended.

Local historian Fred Carden explains (p.127) how regular film screenings came to this venue:

Mr F.V.Hodges commenced showing ‘pictures’ in the Town Hall around 1923 and continued until the early 1930s. In March 1924, the C.R.B. granted him sole rights to screen pictures for the following twelve months, and later that year Mr Hodges’ offer of 200 tip-up seats was accepted by the Board and a new agreement drawn up re theatre rights. This form of entertainment required the seats to be fixtures on the floor and thus curtailed the hall’s future use for dancing. From this time onwards the Agricultural Hall, East Cannington Hall and Queens Park Memorial Hall became the venue of dances and balls.

There may have been a gap in the early years of sound, but from well before 1940 to the late fifties Bart Mott’s Star Entertainments was screening there regularly. Exhibitors in later years included A.E.Randell, Vic Lucas, and the Varne family. Screenings were suspended in 1961 because of lack of patronage: the lease was revoked, though it was announced that occasional screenings may occur in future.

Sources: Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, p.21
F.G.Carden, Along the Canning: a history of the Shire of Canning district, WA, Shire of Canning 1968
Film Weekly Directory, 1940 – 1962
Film Weekly, 9 February 1961, p.3
Kino, no.48, June 1994, p.21
West Australian, 10 October 1904; 1943 – 1961
Photos: F.G.Carden, Along the Canning: a history of the Shire of Canning district, WA, Shire of Canning 1968, opp.p.8

HOYTS 8/ CAROUSEL/ CAROUSEL MEGAPLEX, Cecil Ave, Cannington

Cannington Hoyts

Cannington Hoyts 1997

 

Cannington Hoyts 2

Cannington Hoyts 1997

Hoyts 8, a joint venture of Hoyts and CIC (Cinema International Corporation), opened in the Carousel shopping centre in Cannington on 28 June 1990. The venue cost $10 million, was designed by Hames Sharley Australia and was immediately successful, drawing very large crowds. In 1996, it was rumoured to be about to be extended to twenty screens, and the following year this rumour had risen to 24, including a Cinemotion cinema, but planning permission was not given. Eventually, the building was extended to 14 screens, opening on 28 October 1999. Of these, eleven were Cinemax, with Dolby digital sound and stadium seating, and three were La Premiere, providing luxury seating on two-seater couches, complimentary popcorn, and a licensed area from which patrons were permitted to take drinks back to their seats. This was Hoyts’ answer to the GU Megaplex in Innaloo, which had more screens but was not as luxurious.

Sources: Max Bell, ´Hoyts 8 Carousel’, Kino no.47, March 1994 p.26
Kino, no.17, September 1986, p.24; no.27, March 1989, p.23; no.33 September 1990, p.23; no.34, December 1990, p.24; no.57, September 1996, p.31; no.59, March 1997, p.31; no.63, Autumn 1998; p.34, no.70, Summer 1999, p.35.
West Australian, 1991 – 2000
Photos: 2 exteriors, colour, 1997 (Graeme Bertrand)

CAPEL

CAPEL HALL , Forrest St, Capel

The Capel Hall was first built in 1911, on the north-west corner of Forrest St and Roe Rd. It was constructed of timber, 80′ by 30′, with a supper room and portable stage, but no bio-box. Neville Chinnery was operating there in the thirties, and may have been there earlier still.

One of the earliest of Allan Jones’ four picture show vans operated for a time out of Capel at first, before being based at Busselton. This van travelled through Margaret River, Nannup, Boyanup, Cowaramup, Dunsborough, East Witchcliffe, Jarrahwood, Karridale and Augusta: Tuesday night was picture night in Capel, from before 1940 to about 1964.

In the middle sixties, John Marsden branched out on his own while working six nights a week at the Mayfair, Bunbury. On the seventh night each week he would screen at Capel Hall, using J1 portable projectors, and AC carbon rods. His first show was Laurence of Arabia – attended by only five people and one dog. Nevertheless, he continued at Capel for about a year on Sunday nights, before closing at Capel
and moving to Brunswick Junction, leaving Capel without films once again

In 1972 the hall was burnt down when two small boys were playing with matches, and a new hall opened on the same site on 13 July 1974. The new hall had no bio-box and pictures were not screened there.

Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1964/5
Post Office Directory 1922/4 – 1935/6
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Alan Jones (1978), John Marsden (1997)
Informant: Clive Reed (1997)

CARDIFF

CARDIFF HALL, Shannon St, Cardiff

This weatherboard building with a corrugated iron roof was built around 1920. In the days of silent pictures, Edward Ernest Wheeler (father of Eddie Wheeler who later ran the Bow cinema in Collie) and Bert Dyer (father of Noel Dyer, who later became projectionist at the Royal, Collie) ran a regular screening in this hall, with a hand-cranked projector. For instance, on Sunday 30 October 1921, Hearts of the World was screened there. In the sound period, it was on Fred West’s circuit, but that ceased about 1936.

Sources: Collie Municipal Heritage Inventory, no.130
Collie Mail 7 October 1921
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Eddie Wheeler (1997)

Photo: 1 exterior, b&w, n.d., Collie Municipal Heritage Inventory, no.130

CARLISLE

ARCHER AND GARDENS, 234 Orrong Rd, Carlisle

carlisle 1
Photo 1981, now shops
carlisle 2
1981, back of shops

The Archer gardens, holding 450, was built in 1954 in Orrong Rd, for Eric Nichols and Jack Gynn, both of whom were working as projectionists for Hoyts at the time. This was so successful that in 1958 it was enlarged to a capacity of nearly 1000, and a theatre holding a further 560 was built in front of the gardens, in Archer St. By this time, however, television and drive-ins were providing stiff competition. The premises were sold in 1969 and became a supermarket and car park.

Sources: Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, pp.19, 54
Film Weekly Directory, 1954 – 1970
West Australian, 1954 – 1968, 30 May 1969
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Ken Booth (1978)
Interview (Ina Bertrand & Bill Turner): Jack Gynn (1981)
Photos: 2 exterior (now shop and car park), colour, 1981 (Bill Turner)

BICKFORD MEMORIAL HALL AND GARDENS, Rutland Ave, Carlisle

The Briggs family operated in this hall, holding 200, from about 1953 to 1961.

Sources: Film Weekly Directory, 1954 – 1961

West Australian, 1957 – 1958
Interview (Ina Bertrand & Bill Turner): Jack Gynn (1981)

CARNAMAH

BROADLANDS DRIVE-IN, McPherson St, Carnamah

carnanah drive in 1987 002
Carnamah Drive In 1987
carnanah drive in 1987 001
Carnamah Drive In 1987

In 1963, a company comprising Bob Yelland’s Consolidated Theatres and local shareholders built the Broadlands drive-in on Council land on the north side of an unnamed street with access from McPherson St, off King St, next to the caravan park. It held 211 cars. The first manager was Kevin Sear, then Dick Evans, then Ron Chapman, then Wally van Leen. At first it was screening four nights each week (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday), two different programmes each showing for two nights.

It was a very basic venue, with no playground or sit-in section, and the only plants were some oleanders edging the driveway. From 1965-1969, while her husband was managing the venue, Bridie Evans worked in the ticket box and/or the shop: there she learned to make beef and bacon burgers from the cook whose specialty they were. The Evans children were required to clean up the mess around the ramps the next morning – a task they resented. Bridie Evans cannot remember the venue ever being full enough that anyone had to be turned away, nor any particularly rowdy behaviour. She does remember that the septic system was often blocked, caused by the cleaner’s overenthusiastic use of disinfectant.

The arrival of television in the town brought about a downturn in drive-in patronage, particularly after GWN arrived in 1986. P.R.Heydon describes it like this:
The Broadlands Drive-in Pictures had been operating since 1963 but had fallen on bad times and the Council decided in August 1973 to purchase some of the equipment and carry on under Council management, but it was soon realised that running a Drive-in Theatre, purchasing films, etc, was a specialist business, and proved a worry to the Shire Clerk. The facilities were let to a travelling picture company who were servicing the surrounding areas [this is probably a reference to Ray Dean’s company], and they carried on for a time until Television started to have a big impact on attendance figures, then the video boom added to the manager’s woes. Finally, the touring company were using the facilities at no charge to the Council, who were also paying the electricity charges to provide the facility for townspeople. But this did not help, and the venture folded up. (Heydon, p.105)

The drive-in closed, though in 1997 the ramps and ticket-box and speaker-stands were still there, and so was the concession/ biobox building which had been used by the P&C as a tuckshop for the local school and by the Buffs Lodge as a meeting place. The projectors were returned to the Shire Hall, with the intention of starting up screenings there again, but to 1997 this had not happened.

Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1963/4 – 1971
Public Health Department, building permit, Battye 1459
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes Sussex 1986, p.132
P.R.Heydon, Westward to the sea: reminiscences and a history of Carnamah District 1861 – 1987, Carnamah Historical Society, 1988
The Showman, 16 September 1963, p.19
Interviews (Ina Bertrand): Alan Larkin, Ray Dean (1997)
Informant: Bridie Evans (1997)

Photos : 2 colour , Roy Mudge 1987

SHIRE HALL AND GARDENS , McPherson St Carnamah

Carnamah
Carnamah Hall 1997

One of the early items of business discussed by the Carnamah Roads Board was a request on 21 September 1926 from Mr Walker-Taylor that a bio-box be installed in the planned Roads Board Hall. Instead, ´Permission was granted for Mr Taylor to show pictures once a month, but he had to erect his own asbestos box.'(P.R.Heydon, p.97)

The Roads Board Hall was built in 1929 – a solid stone structure, on the north-east corner of the junction of Caron and McPherson Sts. Wednesday night was picture night. Bridie Evans can remember the excitement of walking two and a half miles into town once or twice a year with her older brother when she was about nine years old to attend the pictures at this venue in the mid-thirties. At that time the screen was on the stage and the bio-box above the entrance to the hall. The hall had columns supporting the roof, so patrons sought to avoid the seats with poor sightlines.

In the forties, Ray Dean’s ´West Talkies’ included Carnamah on its circuit, and this was one of the towns taken over by Vic Basham and Dave Cox in the fifties. They built a gardens behind the hall, along Caron St. This had metal-frame deckchairs in rows of four or five, and one resident can remember how the children in the late fifties would run across the tops of the rails from the back to the front of the cinema… At this time, the bio-box seems to have been re-sited onto the stage of the hall, so that projectors could be swung round to serve the gardens through ports in the back wall of the stage. This put the screen at the front of the hall and allowed seating to be placed on the stage – highly-valued seats, similar to the dress circle in a purpose-built cinema, so there would be a scramble to fill these first. When the partnership of Basham and Cox split up, Cox continued in Carnamah.

The building was demolished and replaced with a new Shire Hall in 1962. This hall had a bio-box, but, as the drive-in had been opened by then, regular screenings were never provided in the new hall. After the drive-in closed, the projectors were returned to the bio-box in the new hall, with the intention of starting screenings again, but by 1997 this had not yet happened.

Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1950/51
Shire of Carnamah, Municipal Inventory, 1995
P.R.Heydon, Westward to the sea: Reminiscences and a history of Carnamah District 1861 – 1987, Carnamah Historical Society, 1988
Informant: Bridie Evans (1997)
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Vic Basham (1997)
Photos: 1 exterior (Roads Board Hall), b&w, n.d., P.R.Heydon, Westward to the sea: Reminiscences and a history of Carnamah District 1861 – 1987, Carnamah Historical Society, 1988, p.98
2 exteriors (Roads Board Hall), b&w, n.d. (held by Shire Offices)
1 exterior (Shire Hall), b&w, 1995, Shire of Carnamah, Municipal Inventory, 1995
1 exterior, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand

CARNARVON

BOOR’S THEATRE, Robinson St, Carnarvon

J.A. (John Arthur) Boor was born in England in 1869 and emigrated to Western Australia as an adult. He lived first in Bunbury, but moved to Carnarvon, where he became a Town Councillor and eventually Mayor.

Boor’s Drapery store, on the north-west corner of the intersection of Robinson St and Alexandra St, is clearly visible in several early photos of the town, one as early as 1902 (Cecily Miller, vol.3, p. 2) and two taken during the 1909 flood (Cecily Miller, vol.4, p.1). The building was a simple unlined, two-roomed timber frame clad with iron: the front room was the draper’s store and the back room was converted for use as a theatre. It could be cleared for dances, or filled with seats for a performance or screening: there was a stage at one end for live theatre and a screen at the other for films, and the seats were reversible.

The first film screening in this theatre took place on Saturday 6 February 1915, in competition with Mr Louden’s Star Pictures at the Masonic Hall. Soon after, Louden took out a lease on Boor’s Theatre and transferred his plant there, though he probably retained the aluminium screen that Boor had proudly advertised. Films were delivered by the ships on the coastal run to Darwin.

On 7 March 1922 the theatre was gutted by fire and Louden’s projection apparatus destroyed. For some months the town was without a picture show, until on 23 September 1922 Louden opened his own “Picture Palace”, further up and on the other side of Robinson Street.

Sources: Cecily Miller, Photographical History of Carnarvon and the Gascoyne Region, Cecily Miller, Carnarvon, 7 vols 1996-7
Rica Erickson, A bi-centennial dictionary of Western Australia p.260
Northern Star 6 February 1915, 13 February 1915, 11 March 1922
Discussion at Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Carnarvon, 27 July 1997, with members of Carnarvon Historical Society
Photos: Cecily Miller, Photographical History, vol.3, p.2; vol.4, p.1
1 exterior, b&w, about 1908, R. Scott Memory, A town grows: Carnarvon, Western Australia, Service Printing CO, Perth July 1967, opp.p.164

CAMEL LANE THEATRE, Robinson St, Carnarvon

carnarvon Camel lane
Camel Lane Theatre 1997

The goods shed, which was part of the storage facilities connected with the One Mile Jetty, was built in 1904 in Robinson St, on the south-west corner of Stuart St. It was renovated in 1966 and used as a Civic Centre till it was demolished in 1990.

The new Civic Centre buildings were completed on this site in November 1990, and officially opened 22 February 1991. These included the Camel Lane theatre, used both for live performances and weekly film screenings. The complex cost $400,000, and is used as a community facility, also containing the Tourist Bureau.

Sources: Max Bell, Kino, no.36, June 1991, p.24
Discussion at Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Carnarvon, 27 July 1997, with members of Carnarvon Historical Society

Photo: 1 exterior, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand

CARNIVAL OPEN AIR THEATRE, Egan St, Carnarvon

By the end of the fifties the district had begun that expansion which culminated in the space-tracking station and various exploration activities. On 30 April 1960 local residents Fred Ross and Homer Glaris opened the Carnival Open Air Theatre on the southern side of Egan St. This block was between Robinson and Rushton Sts, on land behind the house in Rushton St. owned by Nick Glaris, Homer Glaris’s father and a well-known identity in the town (the local SP bookmaker as well as a business-man). The gardens could seat 5-600 and was operated in competition with the Memorial Theatre.

The premises were described as ´the most modern picture gardens outside the metropolitan area’ (Northern Times 5 May 1960), with tubular steel deck chairs with canvas covers, a modern kiosk and a children’s playground. However, in other ways it was a rather functional structure, with sheet metal walls, a gravel floor and little adornment. The screen was on the east wall, and the bio-box near the entrance in Egan St. Unlike so many other locations, the gardens continued after the drive-in was built, and the two venues advertised together for many years (till at least 1977).

In 1997, parts of the walls were still standing, but the site was derelict.

Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1961/2 – 1971
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes Sussex 1986, p.104
Jack Valli, Gascoyne Days, St George Books, Perth 1983
Jack Valli, correspondence with Colleen Pead
Northern Times 1960-1977
Interview (Ina Bertrand): R.Yelland
Discussion at Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Carnarvon, 27 July 1997, with members of Carnarvon Historical Society

LOUDEN’S PICTURE PALACE/ SWANSEA PICTURE PALACE/ MEMORIAL THEATRE, Robinson St, Carnarvon

Carnarvon Louden 1
Carnarvon Louden’s 1930’s
Carnarvon louden 2
Carnarvon Louden’s 1930’s
carnarvon Loudne int 2
Carnarvon Louden’s interior 1930’s
carnarvon louden mid 30 intereor
Carnarvon Louden’s interior 1930’s

On 7 March 1922 Boor’s Theatre was gutted by fire and Mr Louden’s projection apparatus destroyed. For some months the town was without a picture show, until Louden had time to construct his own “Picture Palace” . Immediately after the fire (the lease was registered on 29 March 1922), Louden took out a lease for five years on Town Lots 178 and 179 owned by Herbert Thomas Jackman, on the south side of Robinson Street, in the middle of the block between Francis St and Olivia Tce, next to the old Post Office. He must have contracted local builder Hubert Green (known as Huey Green) to construct the premises, which opened on 23 September 1922.

It was a simple open air theatre, which screened weekly as Louden’s Picture Palace until early 1924. The rumour is that Louden was unable to pay Green for the building work, and that Green must have foreclosed to cover the debt. In any case, Green owned the premises from 1924, and opened it weekly from 2 April, in addition to his regular work as carpenter and undertaker for the town. He renamed it the Swansea Picture Palace, and introduced an innovation much appreciated by the patrons – the availability of cushions for a small hire charge, for use on the hard seats. In the early thirties, Thelma Tonkin and Thelma Daulby (then sixteen years old) were employed to hire out these cushions at 2d each before the show and collect them afterwards, and at interval to work in the concession selling sweets. They were not paid for this, except in free tickets to the show and a gift at Christmas. Other young people did similar service in the theatre over the years.

The Green family left Carnarvon briefly in 1929, but lessees Hastie and Skipworth were not successful so Huey Green returned only a year later. At that time, shops were built in front of the theatre, and a roof added: entrance to the theatre was now through a passage between the shops, with the ticket box and cushion window on one side and the bio-box on the other.

In May 1933 an XL-Tone sound system was installed and Daddylonglegs was the first sound film presented, the acoustics of the building having been improved by a myriad of crepe paper streamers hanging from the roof. Except for that short period in 1929-30 when the theatre was leased to others, Green operated the Swansea till 1948.

After World War 2, the town was considering how to commemorate the contribution of local members of the armed forces just at the time that Green placed the Swansea on the market: it was suggested that purchasing the theatre on behalf of the whole town would make a fitting memorial. The venue was then bought by Henry Butcher and Cyril Cornish in trust for the newly-formed Carnarvon-Gascoyne Memorial Theatre, which officially took over the venue in its own right in 1964. Through all this time, it continued to be operated as a cinema, run by various managers employed by the Theatre Trust, and now renamed the Memorial Theatre.

Local historian Jack Valli describes the cramped and stuffy local lock-up, located opposite the theatre. A sympathetic sergeant of police often allowed the prisoners a short walk before being locked up for the night. Some would take advantage of this to buy a ticket for the pictures, even if their stay was necessarily short. One night, when a prisoner had overstayed his leave, the rest of the audience were amused to see a message scrawled on a slide on the screen: “If Mr… is not back in his cell in five minutes he will be locked out.”

Valli also described how the local community watched the 1969 moon landing ´live’ in the theatre, courtesy of NASA, in recognition of the contribution of the NASA station in Carnarvon to that historic event.

The RSL record books indicate that the Memorial Theatre was still screening films up to 1969, but those records then cease. The last advertisement for films at the Memorial Theatre is on Thursday 3 April 1973, when The Last Picture Show (starring Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges) was to be screened. The building was later demolished (except for the concrete wall of the bio-box with portholes and flume, still visible upstairs and incorporated within the new structure), and replaced with shops on the street frontage, and offices and a new RSL clubrooms upstairs.

Sources: Registers of titles (copies held by Gascoyne Historical Society)
Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1969/70
Shire of Carnarvon, Heritage Inventory , C63
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes ,Sussex, 1986, p.102
Cecily Miller, Photographical History of Carnarvon and the Gascoyne Region, Cecily Miller,Carnarvon, 7 vols 1996-7
Jack Valli, Gascoyne Days, St George Books, Perth 1983
Jack Valli, correspondence with Colleen Pead
Northern Times 1919-1973, 19 April 1973
Interviews (Ina Bertrand): Des Abermardie, Alan Larkin, R.Yelland
Interview (Colleen Pead): Harry Green (August 1986)
Discussion at Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Carnarvon, 27 July 1997, with members of Carnarvon Historical Society
RSL Gascoyne Branch record books
Photos: 2 exterior, late thirties, b&w, H.Green
2 interior, late thirties, b&w, H.Green
1 exterior (Anzac Day 1950-52), b&w, Dal Crake (Cecily Miller, vol.3, p.4)

MASONIC HALL, Francis St, Carnarvon

Carnarvon Hall
Masonic Hall 1997

The first known screening of moving pictures in Carnarvon took place in the Masonic Hall, on the west side of Francis St, between Johnston and Robinson Sts. This was a season of Brete’s Pictures, which commenced on Tuesday 16 February 1909.

In January 1915, Mr H. Louden was screening there regularly, and he was still there when A.J.Boor began film screenings in his new Boor’s Theatre. Some time after that, Louden took a lease of the picture business in Boor’s Theatre and regular film screenings in the Masonic Hall seem to have ceased.

The hall was later acquired by the Anglican Church and became known as the Parish Hall, and in 1997 it was still standing, in use as a commercial premises with the signs (Masonic Hall/Parish Hall) covered over.

Sources: Northern Times 20 February 1909, 23 January 1915
Discussion at Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Carnarvon, 27 July 1997, with members of Carnarvon Historical Society

Photo: 1 exterior, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand

RIVERSIDE DRIVE-IN, Robinson St, East Carnarvon

carnarvon east
Riverside Drive In 1968
The success of the Carnival Gardens led Fred Ross and Homer Glaris to enter into partnership with R. (Bob) Yelland to build the Riverside drive-in, which opened 10 April 1964. It was located on the north-west corner of the intersection of Robinson St with Marmion St. The competition to name the drive-in was won by Carol Barrett (later Carol Black).
It had provision for 260 cars, and both the concession building and the screen were designed to withstand cyclones of up to 140 miles per hour. The 26ft by 60ft screen was constructed so that the asbestos sheets would pop off in a high wind, leaving the expensive basic structure intact. To patrons, such things were less obvious than the ripple sign illuminating the toll box, and the car marshalls so smartly dressed in white overalls and maroon berets. In other ways it was very functional, with no playground, few trees, and a simple concession building.
In its later years it was operated by the Sharps, and it closed about 1980. In 1997 only the concession building was still standing, looking derelict in a sea of tall grass.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1969/70 – 1971
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, p.140
Jack Valli, Gascoyne Days, St George Books, Perth 1983
Jack Valli, correspondence with Colleen Pead
Northern Times 16 April 1964
The Showman, 16 September 1963, p.19
Interview (Ina Bertrand): R.Yelland
Discussion at Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Carnarvon, 27 July 1997, with members of Carnarvon Historical Society
Informant: Thelma Coombs (Carnarvon 1998)

Photos: 1 exterior (rear of screen), colour, 1981, Bill Turner
1 exterior (rear of screen), b&w, 1968, C.A.Miller

CHANDLER

HALL, Chandler

In the forties, Rupert Morris’s Marvel Loch Pictures regularly visited Chandler, north of Merredin, on a circuit which also included Nungarin and Mukinbudin. The town has since been abandoned.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1942/3 – 1951/2
Post Office Directory 1946-47, 1949

CHANNAR

OPEN AIR CINEMA, Channar

One of the most recent of the cinemas constructed by mining companies for their workers was that opened in Channar, near Paraburdoo in 1987/8. The equipment was installed by Eddie Wheeler, for Jim Woods who was contracted by the company. Primitive seating (plastic chairs bolted together) was provided for two hundred patrons, and the projection room was a portable office.
By the end of the nineties, there was no sign of this cinema. One local resident explained:

Channar is another mining operation just at the back of Para’s mine. But they have no drive-in or cinema. What they did have was an extra TV station for films and videos. I don’t think they have anything now, as the workers live in town and travel each day to the mine about 1 hr 30 mins I think.

Sources: Max Bell, Kino, no.26, December 1988, p.23
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Eddie Wheeler (1997)
Informant: Judy McIlhenney (1999)

CHIDLOW

HALL, Chidlow

In 1941, Charlie Legg bought Roch Evans’ Modern Cinemas circuit, and added several towns to it, including Chidlow. He ran it as a monthly circuit at first, then dropped the towns further away from Perth to condense it into a fortnightly circuit, and then a ten-day circuit. His wife would meet him at Chidlow on Thursday nights to collect tickets at the door, and would get home to Dalkeith about midnight.
Chidlow was also on the Fitzgerald’s circuit in the late forties and early fifties.
In 1949, Charlie Legg sold his business to Lew Punch, who developed two travelling circuits – one in the wheatbelt (Dalwallinu, Williams, Wandering, Jarrahdale, Serpentine, Buntine, Kalannie, Wubin, Chidlow) and one in the north (as far as Bindoon).
There was never a gardens in Chidlow – only the local hall.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1948/9 – 1964/5
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Charles Legg (1997)
Correspondence with Judy Love, Mundaring & Hills Historical Society, 19 June 1997, including notes of interview with Lew Punch

CHITTERING

HALL, Chittering

The first Chittering Hall was built by the local community, and opened about 1920: it was a simple timber structure with a corrugated iron roof, a stage at the rear, and a supper room and kitchen built along the side. Films were screened there from about 1934, and this necessitated alterations to the hall: ´patrons entered from the rear door and a cloth screen was hung across the front wall’ (Pollock, p.27). The last exhibitor may have been Fitzgerald’s circuit, which is listed in Film Weekly Directory as screening in Lower Chittering from 1948/9 – 1951/2. The old hall was demolished when the new hall was built in 1967.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1948/9 – 1951/2
Graeme Pollock, “Chitta-chitta”… valley of citrus, Veritas Publishing Co, Bullsbrook 1987

CHRISTMAS ISLAND

CLUB SETTLEMENT CINEMA, Christmas Island

Christmas Island lies off the coast of Western Australia, and is most famous as a source of phosphates. The mine was operated by the British Phosphate Commission till 1981, then by the Mining Company of Christmas Island Ltd, and in 1985 the island had a population of about 1,100.
The earliest record of a cinema listed in the Film Weekly Directory is in 1968: the venue was said to seat 360 and be operated by the mining company for its employees.
However, Max Bell in 1985 told a rather different story:

On this unique and quite attractive island, repose three open air cinemas, which are operated by the mining company. The cinemas were first built in 1950, one at South Point, one at Drumsite and the other at Settlement. The whole locality at South Point was dismantled in 1968 to make way for further mining operations and has now disappeared into the jungle. The original Settlement Cinema was also dismantled to make way for other buildings, but a newer cinema is still operating there.

The cinema situation in 1985 is that two outdoor theatres are still operating, Settlement and Poon San. Both of these formerly screened 35mm films but were discontinued five years ago because of operational problems. The units were Simplex with Calder automatic arcs, manufactured by a Sydney company, J & W Bunt and Co. Two new Bell and Howell 16mm projection units were installed at both of Settlement and Poon San, where films are screened twice a week to an average audience of 100 persons. Each cinema seats 300, mainly on wooden forms.

Films were previously hired from Cathay Films in Singapore when the 35mm units were operating, and from Australasian Film Hire in Perth, but presently films come mainly from Amalgamated Films in Sydney and are normally in English, but there are some spoken in Malay and Mandarin.

The appearance of the open air cinemas is quite interesting and pleasing to the eye, with neatly built bio boxes, graduated seating and well designed cinema screens. They are well maintained and it is most obvious that the company presents the entertainment with quite some pride for their employees.

The disused 35mm projectors are shortly to be moved to a new home, very appropriately in Western Australian, where they will be put on display in the Allen Theatre, Busselton, which has a unique cinema museum in the upstairs foyer. (Max Bell, ‘Christmas Island’, Kino, no.17, p.12)

Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1968/9 – 1971
Max Bell, ‘Christmas Island’, Kino, no.17, p.12
Photos: 1 exterior (screen and seating, Settlement open air cinema), b&w, 1985, Max Bell (Kino, no.17, p.13)
1 exterior (dilapidated screen, disused open air cinema, Drumsite), b&w, 1985, Max Bell (Kino, no.17, p.13)
1 exterior (Poon San open air cinema), b&w, 1985, Max Bell (Kino, no.17, p.13)

CLAREMONT

PARISH HALL, Claremont Ave (Stirling Hwy),Claremont

Precise location of this venue is not clear, and it is possible that it is identical with the Princess Hall (see Princess Theatre, Claremont). It may have been the location for very early screenings in Claremont (e.g. Stevenson’s Royal Biograph, 10 November 1904), and it was certainly the venue for Bartlett’s New Electric Biograph in February 1907, and the Canadian Bioscope Co in May 1909. Globe Pictures began screening there regularly from early in 1912, to at least early 1913, and possibly to 1918.
Sources: Post Office Directory, 1914
West Australian, 3 November 1904, 22 February 1907, 14 May 1909, 1912 – 1918

PRINCESS THEATRE AND CLAREMONT PICTURE GARDENS, cnr Stirling Hwy & Leura Ave, Claremont

princess hall claremont

Princess Hall Claremont 1981
princess claremont 2
Laneway Claremont 1981
princess claremont 3
Car Park at rear showing cinema roof 1981
During 1914, the Princess Hall in Claremont was screening regularly, and put on a special show on 18 August for the War Patriotic Fund. The Claremont Picture Gardens seems to have opened on the south-west corner of Gugeri St and Bayview Terrace, Claremont, in 1914?, and to have been operating till 1916.
The relationship between these and the long-lasting Princess Theatre and Claremont Gardens is not clear: possibly there is no more relationship than the transfer of the names. However, by 1920 a new Picture Gardens, holding about 900 patrons, had been built near the north-east corner of Bayview Tce and what was then called Claremont Ave (now Stirling Highway), with its entrance on the highway. This was usually called the Claremont Gardens in advertising, but listed as Summer Gardens in the Post Office Directory. Soon after, the Princess Theatre with accommodation for 900 was opened behind the gardens with entrance from Bayview Tce.(first ad for Princess Theatre seems to be 21 February 1920?) These premises were joined only at the back of each: another building was located right on the corner, used for part of the time as a bank. The theatre and gardens had separate bio-boxes, with high quality Pacent equipment in the theatre but only Australs in the gardens. In 1920, the Princess featured Mr Palmer’s orchestra, at least on Saturday nights, though on weeknights they usually had only a piano, and later a pianola.
The two venues were operated in conjunction, at first by Charles Stewart’s Claremont Picture Theatres. In 1923, Charles Legg was employed by Stewart to ride his pushbike between the Princess and the Roads Board Hall on Saturday nights, switching the film reel by reel. At this time, Stewart was also screening at Claremont Asylum, on a single hand-cranked projector, and providing occasional screenings for schools. He then sold both the Princess and the Swanbourne theatres to Suburban Theatres (operated by Nelsons of Kalgoorlie, who also ran the Nedlands Pictures, Cottesloe Picture Gardens and Cottesloe Beach Town Hall).
In 1942 the Princess Theatre and Claremont Gardens were screening seven nights a week, but by the middle of 1959 this had dropped to three. The site was sold in 1964 and converted to a shopping arcade, though retaining a small theatre holding approximately 500.
Sources: Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, pp.22-3, 56
Max Bell, ´Looking back’, Kino, no.41, September 1992, p.16
Post Office Directory, 1915 – 1949
West Australian, 18 August 1914, 1920, 1924 – 1963
Interview (Bill Turner): Arthur Hatfield (1981)
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Charles Legg (1997)
Photos: 3 exteriors (converted premises – shops on Stirling Hwy, and along the lane that used to link the cinema and the gardens, and car park at the rear with access to the shops, showing the roof of the old cinema building), colour, 1981 (Bill Turner)

SWANBOURNE THEATRE, 136 Railway St, Claremont

claremont swanbourne
Swanbourne Theatre, Exterior , 1981
This Railway St site is officially in Claremont, because it is on the south side of the railway line, but it is right opposite the Swanbourne railway station, and on the border of East Cottesloe. The Swanbourne Picture Theatre, holding approximately 600, opened there in 1927: it had no gardens, and was a simple cement brick building constructed as cheaply as possible. It was built by Charles Stewart, and later sold with the Princess (Claremont) to Suburban Theatres. During the summer months, when the Princess theatre was closed, the company advertised their programmes for the Swanbourne Theatre and the Claremont Gardens (i.e. those associated with the Princess Theatre). After the Swanbourne theatre closed the building was used by the Police Boys Club. In 1989 it was reported to be about to be demolished.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory, 1943 – 1961
Kino, no.28, June 1989, p.23
Post Office Directory, 1927 – 1949
West Australian, 1927 – 1963
Interview (Bill Turner): Arthur Hatfield (1981)

Photo: 1 exterior (Police & Citizens Youth club), colour, 1981 (Bill Turner)

COCKATOO ISLAND

OPEN AIR PICTURES, Cockatoo Island

cockatoo island
Cockatoo Island 1960’s
By 1949, this venue was listed in the Film Weekly Directory as part of the circuit operated by W.J.Anderson (Derby, Broome and Cockatoo Island). In 1952 the Rowells took over this circuit, renamed it Derby Pictures, and operated it till the early seventies, but I have been unable to find any further information about these connections.
Cockatoo is a very beautiful island, which, from the sixties till 1985, was owned by BHP. They constructed a company town on two small hills, to house their mine workforce, which, because of the isolation, was a very tight-knit community. In the sixties there were approx. 50 families and maybe 150 single men, making a total of around 500 people. The company provided the open air theatre, built as an amenity in the middle of the town. It held about 150, but was only really full occasionally, for a popular movie like “Klute” or an Elvis movie.
Margaret McKinlay remembers that in the early sixties:

There were not many single girls: there were only two of us, I think. When I came home from boarding school, the plane would land and they could see from the power house who was getting off the plane. And if there were pictures that night the numbers would go up, they’d want to check out who the bird was who had got off the plane. Then it would quieten off. We went with friends, usually in a group, unless you paired off with a fella and went with your boyfriend.

The seats were on tiered ground, each tier concrete-edged and surfaced with gravel. There was no fence, so the venue was easily accessible from all directions. To ‘company films’, the entry fee was extremely low (some remember it as 20c), and collected by someone sitting in the side aisle, on an honour system: these screenings were provided twice a week in the late sixties/seventies. For some time in the late sixties, the P&C ran additional regular 16mm screenings, using one projector, set up on a stand in the middle of the seats: on these occasions, patrons were expected to enter at either the NE or SW corner, where someone waited with a money bag to collect the fees. At the rear of the venue was a building housing two shops: a newsagent/deli which sold cool drinks and icecreams, and the P&C kiosk which sold sweets for the P&C funds. Above this building was the biobox, and the screen was positioned at the bottom of the slope, providing a natural rake.
It was never really cold in that climate, so screenings continued throughout the year, interrupted only in the event of a real thunderstorm. In the wet season, if patrons wished to stay till the end of the movie despite the rain, they would put a rug up over their heads or congregate under the verandah above the walkway in front of the shops.
Films arrived by air, in Dick Bennett’s plane from Derby. Cockatoo Island and Koolan Island were only one mile apart, and a little barge, called the Wandi, ferried between the two islands, carrying people or cargo such as films.
On Cockatoo, the cinema was the main social activity for the whole town in the sixties and seventies: most people attended occasionally, and some were there for every new film. Traditionally, young single people (teenagers) sat on the right side (facing the screen) and near the front, couples and families sat in the centre and towards the back, and single and older men sat on the left side. Children would gather on the lawned area just in front of the screen, where they could play together or fall asleep on the family rug if the movie was not to their liking. Richard Ensor remembers a bushy tree on the right-hand side of the screen, always full of glow-worms, which would light up as the darkness fell.
Andrew Ensor remembers that when an R-rated movie came to town, the absence of a fence meant that parents were supposed to monitor the children’s viewing. But he was one of six children, so had ways of evading his parents. One night he and several friends were hiding in the scrub above the venue watching The Godfather. Vic Cox kept crocodiles in his backyard, and they had been known to escape, so on this night, when the children heard rustling in the bushes behind them, and realised that Mr Cox’s property was in that direction, they all took off – Andrew straight through the picture theatre, past the 16mm projector and off into the middle of town! They learned later that a drunk had missed the road in the dark and had rolled down the slope…
BHP closed the town in 1985, and it was deserted for some time. Then it was bought by Alan Bond, who turned it into a resort village. There was a plan to restart the cinema, screening films purchased by the management: with an ever-changing clientele, they would have needed only a few films, to be screened in rotation. I have no further information about whether this plan was implemented, or what happened to the cinema after Bond’s empire collapsed.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1958/9 – 1971
Ina Bertrand, ‘Going to the pictures in the Kimberley, part 2′, Kino 73, Spring 2000, pp. 26-27
Informant: Andrew Ensor (1999)
Interviews (Ina Bertrand): Richard Ensor (2000), Margaret McKinlay (2000), Terry Walters (2000)
Photos: 1 exterior, colour, 1960s, Andrew Ensor

COLLIE

AMUSU, 66 Johnston St, Collie

Collie Amusu
Collie Amusu, now Collie Canvas 1997
In 1925 the Amusu Theatre was built on the north-west corner of the intersection of Johnston and Prinsep Sts. The building was owned by Harry Carlisle and the picture show was first run by Neville Lukey, who presented the official opening on 25 April, promising ´An up-to-date show with good seating and a grand orchestra’, and that half the proceeds of that first night would be given to the new hospital fund. In 1925 and 1926, three shows each week were presented at the Amusu, in competition with the Tivoli and the Lyceum or Coliseum. By 1927, Dyer had joined Lukey in presenting films at the Amusu, and they continued even after the Theatre Royal opened on 18 May 1928. But the number of screenings at the Amusu dropped back, until, even though admission was considerably cheaper at the Amusu than at the Royal, screenings there ceased on 18 July 1928.
The building continued to be used for dancing and theatre, and as a social club, and was even used for 16mm film screenings on Sunday nights in the early fifties, before the Bow Cinema opened. It still stood in 1997, in use as commercial premises (a canvas and camping warehouse and shop). The building had been covered in aluminium cladding, but the basic structure was still clearly evident.
Sources: Post Office Directory 1928-1939/40
Max Bell, Perth, a cinema history, The Book Guild Ltd, Lewes, Sussex 1986, pp.100, 105
H.W. Williams, One day in Collie, Shire of Collie 1979, p.98
Collie Mail 1925 – 1928
West Australian 20 February 1920
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Eddie Wheeler

Photo: 1 exterior, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand

COLISEUM, Wittenoom St, Collie

The Coliseum hall faced Wittenoom St, behind the Federal Hotel, which faced Throssel St, between Pendleton and Burt Sts. It was built and owned by Mrs Bradbury. There are occasional mentions of the venue from about 1910, but the first time pictures were advertised there was on 14 January 1911, when Star Pictures, under the direction of H. E. Bradbury, began screening every Friday, accompanied by a local orchestra. These Friday screenings continued, even after Shaftesbury Pictures began Monday screenings in the Coliseum in July that year.
Star continued to advertise to November, when the venue was renamed the Coliseum Picture and Skating Palace, screening films every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and providing skating on the other nights each week.
At this period, there were three picture venues in town – the Coliseum, the Tivoli, and the Mechanics Institute – all vying for custom, sometimes screening on the same nights of the week and sometimes on different nights. The screenings at the Coliseum were run by Coliseum Pictures till August 1912, then International Pictures began screening in the Coliseum in addition to the Mechanics Institute, and they finally took over the venue completely in December. They then ceased screenings in the Mechanics Institute and the town now had two competing venues – the Tivoli and the Coliseum. When Union Pictures opened the Mechanics Institute again in June 1913, Coliseum Pictures ceased, leaving the Tivoli the only competitor with Union Pictures.
For several years, the Coliseum reverted to live performances only. When tenders were invited in February 1920, for the lease of the hall for dancing or pictures, it was described as having floor space of 100 ft by 66 ft, and seating accommodation for 600. In December 1921 L. F. Kelly began presenting films again on Saturday nights only, in competition with the Tivoli, which was at that time screening six nights each week. The number of Coliseum screenings each week rose to three in June 1922, and by January 1923 R. E. Walker had taken over both venues, and continued to run them as one enterprise. By January 1924, the Tivoli was screening six nights per week and the Coliseum only on Saturday night. In January 1925, W. D. Hall was the operator of this enterprise, and he ceased screenings at the Coliseum and re-opened the Mechanics Institute (renamed the Lyceum) in conjunction with the Tivoli.
The Coliseum was again in use only for live shows, but it was burned down on Sunday 24 January 1926, and never rebuilt.
Sources: Post Office Directory 1928-1939/40
Max Bell, Perth, a cinema history, The Book Guild Ltd, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, pp.100, 105
H.L.William, One day in Collie, Shire of Collie 1979, p.98
Collie Mail, 1910 – 1926, 28 April 1960
West Australian 20 February 1920

DRIVE-IN, Laurie St, Collie

The Collie drive-in was built on the north side of Laurie St, at the intersection of Prinsep St, with room for 249 cars. It was constructed for West Australian Drive-ins, in which Goldfields Pictures was a major shareholder, as was Alan Larkin who eventually bought out Goldfields and ran the cinema himself for over a year, before selling to the Shire Council. It opened on 23 November 1961 and closed on 31 March 1984. The site was cleared and in 1997 was still vacant.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1961/2 – 1971
Public Health Department, building permit, Battye 1459
Max Bell, Perth, a cinema history, The Book Guild Ltd, Lewes, Sussex 1986, p.133
Collie Mail, 1961 – 1984
Interviews (Ina Bertrand): Ron Elsegood (1985), Alan Larkin (1985)

GAIETY GARDENS, Forrest St, Collie

The Gaiety Gardens was constructed on the north side of Forrest St, between Prinsep and Harvey Sts, on land owned by chemist Len O. Siggs. Local children could view the pictures from the railway footbridge, and Eddie Wheeler remembers seeing Naughty Marietta that way. The Gaiety ran in conjunction with the Royal for perhaps two summer seasons, but closed because the weather in Collie was not suitable for such outdoor recreations.
Sources: Interview (Ina Bertrand): Eddie Wheeler (1997)

MECHANICS INSTITUTE AND GARDENS/ EMPIRE/ LYCEUM THEATRE/ BOW CINEMA, Throssel St, Collie

In Collie, the Mechanics Institute was built on the south-west corner of the intersection of Patterson and Throssel Sts, and this may have been the venue for the presentations of the Salvation Army Biorama Company which visited the town in October 1900, August 1902, January 1904 and October 1904. In August 1908, improvements were reported to the building: it was painted inside and out and a drop scene with local advertising was painted for the rear of the stage. Many activities were held in the hall, including skating, public meetings, and dances, and the library was important to many people.
In October 1908, the hall was used for the performances of the Musical Gardners and Vincents Empire Pictures, which visited the town under the management of Alex F. Wood for two weeks. A month later, when West’s pictures were rained out of the Tivoli Gardens, they screened at the Mechanics Institute, and this began a long run of weekly screenings on Tuesday nights by this company. But this did not stop other companies also using the hall for picture screenings. So Morriss’s Electric Pictures screened in early 1909, and from 16 April 1909 King’s Pictures (like West’s, a major Perth company) began regular screenings on Friday nights. These were organised by the committee of the Institute, which felt the need to defend this breaking of West’s monopoly in the town:
The committee recognise that the people of the town should have an opportunity of utilising the hall and its conveniences – which, by the way, entirely belong to them. The proceeds will be used for further improving the Institute.
It is also the committee’s intention to make the block of land adjoining the Institute into a “summer garden” where outdoor entertainments may be given during the summer months. (Collie Mail, 10 April 1909)
The paper does not report the opening of these gardens, but they must indeed have opened, as over the years more pictures were advertised in this venue.
King’s Pictures moved to Saturday night on 22 May 1909, and ceased advertising in June that year. West’s Tuesday night screenings continued, but moved to the Union Hall from August to November 1909. When they resumed at the Mechanics Institute they renamed the gardens next door West’s Picture Gardens. They continued to screen at this venue every Tuesday night in either the hall or the gardens till their Tuesday night screenings were taken over by International Pictures in September 1912. But from December 1910 Delavale’s Pictures and concert company had begun a long run of Sunday screenings in the Mechanics Institute. In December 1911, the following cryptic report appeared:
Mr Delavale has asked us to announce that he has now entered into arrangements with the Collie Band to show in conjunction with that body. This will mean that in future there will only be one Sunday night show, and that will be held in the open-air gardens, attached to the Mechanics’ Institute. The Band contradicts this. (Collie Mail 30 December 1911)
In November 1912 International Pictures took over both West’s Tuesday nights and Delavale’s Sunday nights, and in December they moved to the Coliseum. For a while, no films were screened at the Mechanics Institute – either hall or gardens.
Then, in June 1913 the Miners’ Union revived screenings in the Mechanics Institute in winter and the gardens in the summer: these Union Pictures screened on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. When Union Pictures moved to the Tivoli gardens over the summer season of 1914-15, the screenings at the Mechanics Institute on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays were operated by Mechanics Pictures, with A. Butler as operator, Mrs Harris at the piano, and J.Dailly as manager. This happened again over the following summer, but Union Pictures continued to screen every week (in the Tivoli in summer and the Mechanics Institute in winter).
This suggests that the Mechanics Institute Gardens closed at the end of the 1912-13 summer season, but it was not until 5 July 1919 that an advertisement appeared in the Collie Mail, calling for tenders for the purchase of all the galvanised iron and timber on ´that piece of land known as Mechanics Institute Gardens, Throssell St, Collie, also for flat iron and timber on screen and one operating box in gardens.’
Screenings in the Mechanics Institute hall continued till late in 1916, then on 16 December 1916 the first advertisements appear for Spot’s Pictures and Vaudeville, on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. An advertisement on 6 January 1917 explains that ´The Hall has been darkened so we can continue showing at 8 as usual. Punkas are being installed for the Benefit and Comfort of our Patrons’. The venue seems to have been the Mechanics Institute renamed the Empire, and operated in competition with the Tivoli. This is the first show in the town run by Gunning Davis, nicknamed Spot after his white horse S.P.O.T. (pronounced Esspeeohtee). The two were a familiar sight as Davis rode around the streets of the town, playing his trumpet to advertise his shows. In addition to the films, the whole Davis family performed in the vaudeville segments, and the enterprise was very successful. Then, on one occasion, while Davis was riding around on S.P.O.T. he noticed a four-legged hen in a backyard, and persuaded the owner to sell it to him for ten shillings. He added it to the variety bill and it was so successful that he toured the state with it, making enough money to take the whole family to America, where they stayed, still exhibiting the hen in fairgrounds.
After Davis left the town, the lease of the Mechanics Institute hall was advertised in January 1920 ´with Piano, Picture Machine, and Screen complete, and all furniture and appliances.’ On 21 May 1920 the venue re-appeared under the name of Lyceum Pictures, run by Les Brooks who also ran the picture shows at the Tivoli Theatre. He continued to operate both concurrently until November 1920, then closed the Lyceum till 10 June 1921, when a ´Grand re-opening’ was announced.
The advertisements for the Lyceum after that were infrequent, and more often for live shows than for pictures, but they continued irregularly: for instance on 2 January 1925 and on 5 June 1925 the Lyceum was advertising its regular screenings on Saturdays and Wednesdays. By the following year the name ´Lyceum’ had faded away.
When the Davis family left for America in 1920, one daughter remained behind to marry her coalminer sweetheart, Edward Ernest Wheeler, and set up house in nearby Cardiff. So, there is a certain symmetry to the fact that it was Spot Davis’ grandson, Eddie Wheeler, who re-opened the Mechanics Institute for films on 17 October 1956. The rear section of the building had been re-modelled as the Bow Cinema, so named after the three original partners – Butcher, O’Dwyer and Wheeler. These three had begun by screening 16mm films on Sunday nights in the old Amusu building, then used as the Griffin Social Club. But they hoped to open a proper cinema, so took a lease on the Mechanics Institute. The bio-box, which had been there from the earlier days, was called into use once again, and new seating and projection apparatus was acquired from other theatres. Because they were setting up in opposition to an established operator (Goldfields Pictures at the Theatre Royal) the new venture had considerable difficulty at first in obtaining product from the major distributors. But eventually Universal Films agreed to give them a three months contract and they supplemented this with the product of independent distributors like Lionel Hart, and the occasional film that Goldfields did not want. Soon they were screening very successfully seven nights a week, with Sunday still their most profitable night. The partnership did not survive very long: Butcher bought out early, O’Dwyer disappeared (under some sort of cloud apparently), and Wheeler continued alone with the venue until it closed just before Christmas 1971.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41- 1966/7
Max Bell, Perth, a cinema history, The Book Guild Ltd, Lewes, Sussex ,1986, p.102-3, 115, 124
Collie Mail, 1908 – 1971
Everyone’s 21 March 1928, p.28
West Australian 22 January 1920
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Eddie Wheeler (1997)
Limelight Picture Show Tours, http//:www.abc.net.au/limelight/docs/tours

POLICE AND CITIZENS YOUTH CLUB, Forrest St, Collie

The PCYC building is on the south side of Forrest St, near the eastern corner of Prinsep St. Here Eddie Wheeler (formerly of the Bow Cinema) installed 35mm projection equipment from the Finucane Island venue, and began organising occasional screenings, fitting into the rest of the Club’s programme. He also began to train the young people in projection, including how to make up a programme. These screenings were doing well, but the opening of the Grand cinemas in Bunbury in 1996 cut into audiences, and by 2002 screenings were only offered occasionally.
Sources: Interview (Ina Bertrand): Eddie Wheeler (1997)
Informant: Tony C.Paulsen (2002)

THEATRE ROYAL, 33 Forrest St, Collie

The Royal was erected by Thomas Cooley, in partnership with his brothers (and apparently with some input also from the proprietor of the Premier Hotel, Mr Ferguson). It was built in Forrest St, between Harvey and Steere Sts, and opened by the Mayor on Wednesday 16 May 1928. It was described as ´an edifying structure’:
…erected on the most modern architectural lines. Nothing whatever has been overlooked in the matter of comfort, the building being brilliantly illuminated, tastefully furnished and artistically finished in its colour effect. There is seating accommodation for 1,200 persons on the sloping ground floor and in the circle, many of the chairs being upholstered and of the newest design (Collie Mail & W.A.Coalfields Miner, 18 May 1928)
The theatre was very similar to the Oxford, Leederville, as both had been designed by S. Rosenthal. A striking feature of the design was the iron gates, which opened that first day to allow the children of Collie, who had patiently endured the Mayor’s opening address, entrance to their free matinee – the management’s way of making sure they were impressed with the pleasures to be found within on future (paying) visits.
It soon became the major cinema in town, so that the Amusu closed in July 1928. In November 1928 Hall and Callagher were running both the Theatre Royal and the Tivoli, and the management of both passed to Peter Hall in May 1929. In November that year he ceased screening films at the Tivoli, making the Theatre Royal the only picture venue in the town.
The Royal ran in conjunction with the short-lived Gaiety Gardens in the early thirties.
The theatre was added to the Goldfields Pictures chain in 1937, and at this time new projectors and seating were installed. By the outbreak of war it was again the only cinema still in operation in the town, but that changed when the Bow began in October 1956. The Royal closed on 11 November 1967, after the opening of the drive-in. It was later sold to the Collie Shire, but when public opinion prevented its conversion to a library and Civic Centre, it was sold to the R&I Bank, demolished and a bank building (now BankWest?) was put on the site.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41- 1966/7
Post Office Directory 1929-1949
Max Bell, Perth, a cinema history, The Book Guild Ltd, Lewes, Sussex 1986, p.123
Collie Mail & W.A.Coalfields Miner , 18 May 1928
Interviews (Ina Bertrand): Ron Elsegood (1985), Eddie Wheeler (1997)
Photos: 1 exterior, b&w, Collie Museum
1 usherettes of the Royal, b&w, Collie Museum

TIVOLI THEATRE, Forrest St, Collie

The Commonwealth (now the Club) Hotel was built at the western end of Forrest St, on the north-east corner of Atkinson St. The Tivoli Gardens were constructed next door, in Forrest St (where the bottle shop now stands). It is not clear when the Tivoli was built, but it was advertising in October 1908 as De Pedro’s Tivoli Gardens.
The first regular film screenings in Collie were to have been held here from November 1908, when West’s advertised that they had taken a lease on the gardens, and that ´after considerable expense they are now in splendid order and should become a favourite resort every Tuesday night, under the style of West’s Picture Gardens’. The screenings were, however, rained out on the first night, and so moved to the Mechanics Institute, commencing a long association of West’s with that venue. But they returned to the gardens in December 1908 and again the following summer, still screening on Tuesdays, which became West’s regular picture night in the town. On other nights, the venue was used for other purposes, reverting to the name Tivoli when it was used, for instance, for skating. By the summer of 1910-11 the Mechanics Institute Gardens was in operation and West’s moved out of the Tivoli permanently.
In June 1912, a prospectus was published in the Collie Mail for Tivoli Theatre Ltd, a company formed to purchase the lease (11 yrs) of the Tivoli rink. By September 1912, the first advertisements for Tivoli Pictures began to appear, screening on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday in December 1912, and from this time on the venue is referred to as the Tivoli Theatre (which suggests that at some stage it was roofed). In June 1913 the screenings were advertised as managed by Hamilton Brown, who later made his mark in major Perth city theatres. By June 1914 pictures were only on Tuesdays, and skating on Thursdays and Saturdays. By the end of 1914 Union Pictures had moved from the Mechanics Institute to the Tivoli, and were screening there every Tuesday, and for a short time in 1916 the Tivoli seemed to be the only entertainment venue in the town – used for skating and pictures and many other things as well.
Then films resumed at the Empire (the Mechanics Institute) and by July 1919 the name of Les Brooks appeared as the lessee of both the Tivoli and the Empire, which he renamed the Lyceum. By December 1921, the Tivoli was the main picture venue in the town, screening six nights per week, and this continued from 1922 to 1924, though now R.E.Walker was the proprietor, and the second venue that he ran in conjunction with the Tivoli was the Coliseum. In 1925 W.D.Hall had both the Tivoli and the Coliseum: even after the Amusu was built and the Coliseum burned down, the Tivoli remained the most important picture venue.
When the Theatre Royal was built the two managements competed fiercely at first, but by May 1929 both were under the control of Peter R. Hall, and on 22 November 1929 the Tivoli showed its last films. It then became an all-purpose venue, used for wrestling in November 1929, and in December having a new dance floor installed.
Sources: Post Office Directory 1928-1937/8
H.L.William, One day in Collie, Shire of Collie 1979, p.98
Collie Mail 1908 – 1929
Everyone’s 9 May 1928, p.34
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Eddie Wheeler (1997)

UNION HALL, Collie

The Union Hall seems to have been a hall attached to the Colliefield Hotel, and managed by A.P.Brophy, so it was occasionally referred to as Brophy’s Union Hall. Pictures were first screened there by West’s in February 1909, under the management of Albert Clark: it is not clear why they moved from the Mechanics Hall to the Union Hall at this time, but they stayed till April, moved back to the Mechanics Hall for a few months then returned to the Union Hall from August to November, before re-opening in West’s Picture Gardens (the Tivoli Gardens).
For a while, the Union Hall was used for other things, such as skating, but in July 1910 the Gaiety Picture Co opened there, screening pictures from Cozens Spencer’s Perth agency on Monday and Friday nights, and continuing with skating on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. This enterprise was managed by Harry Delavale, and proudly advertised as ´purely a local concern’ (Collie Mail 2 July 1910). On 17 December 1910 Delavale ceased screenings in the Union Hall and moved his Sunday screenings to the Mechanics Institute.
There is no further mention of pictures at the Union Hall, and when Union Pictures begins to advertise it is a venture operated by the Miner’s Union in the Tivoli Theatre.
Sources: Collie Mail 1909 – 1910

COMO

COMO AND GARDENS/CYGNET AND GARDENS/ CYGNET, 16 Preston St, Como

Como 1983

Cygnet, Como 1983

Como int 1956

Cygnet interior 1986

COMO in 2 1983
Cygnet interior 1983
como 9nt 4
Cygnet 1983
Como int 1
Cygnet 1983
como int 3
Cygnet 1983
The Como theatre, with its adjoining gardens, was the third of the chain of cinemas in the South Perth area built for James Stiles. At its opening on the 8 December 1938, the theatre and gardens each held approximately 700. The hard-top was jauntily nautical, with an art moderne flavour, and was one of the few suburban cinemas to contain a crying room for the use of mothers with small children. The gardens was considered particularly fine:

The 150 trees and shrubs used to beautify the theatre have been planted almost fully grown. Pencil pines and poplars give tall effect, and the sides are clothed with flowering climbing creepers and shrubs. Lawns and a central bed of flowering cannas have been planted outside, with shrubbery on the eastern side and dwarf-clipped hedges in front.(West Australian, 12 Dec. 1938)

Ross Thorne (p.237) describes the gardens like this:

The bitumen covered ground on which was placed exceedingly uncomfortable deck chairs was slightly raked towards the screen. The brick wall of the sister hard-top cinema was at one side; this was partially covered with creepers while wisteria covered the remaining fences constructed of lattice-work. The projection box was a side extension to the one used for the enclosed auditorium; until a second pair of projectors was obtained the one pair was moved from one auditorium to the other by means of their being mounted on rails.
The piece-de-resistance of Como Gardens was the screen. In an attempt to be theatrical (!) the flat iron was painted as a stage in perspective. Between lattice pylons the white screen was painted within a painted set of curtains reaching down to a floor painted on the vertical surface in perspective as black and white tiles.

Easy access was provided between the gardens and the hard-top so that, in case of wet weather, the patrons could all be moved from one to the other within five minutes.
After Stiles’ death the cinema was operated by South Perth Theatres Pty Ltd, which was absorbed into City Theatres in 1968. At that time it was air-conditioned and extensively remodelled, to hold only 510, and re-opened as the Cygnet on 4 July 1968.
The Festival of Perth used the adjoining gardens for the 4-5 week summer season, until they closed in 1971 – the last of the suburban gardens until the revival of the nineties. The Cygnet Cinema was the venue for the Perth International Film Festival from 1972 to 1976, and acquired an art-house reputation around that time. However, it returned to regular commercial fare, and did very well with second release films, often in long seasons, in the eighties.
The lease was acquired by Hoyts when that company took over City Theatres in 1988, and in 1989 it passed to Glen Darlington of Classic Cinemas, then to Ron Moody and finally the venue was purchased from the Stiles estate by Eddie Herbert and Cliff Boekemann. In 1991 it had been in trouble, with falling patronage, but after extensive renovation this picked up in the nineties, till it became once again a major suburban venue, with a rather art-house flavour. In 1995, the building was listed by the National Trust, and was nominated for the WA Register of Historic Buildings: in 1997 it was listed for inclusion in the Register of the National Estate.
Sources: Building permit, Battye 1459

Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, pp.23-4, 56-7
F.K.Crowley, Westralian suburb: the history of South Perth, Western Australia, Rigby, Perth 1962, p.89
Vyonne Geneve, ´William Leighton, architect’, Kino, no.25, September 1988, pp.7 – 15
Vyonne Geneve, ´The vulnerability of our Art Deco theatres’, Kino, no.28, June 1989, p.6
Vyonne Geneve, Significant buildings of the 1930s in Western Australia, Vyonne Geneve, June 1994, National Trust of Australia (WA)/ National Estate Grants Programme, vol.1
Jack Honnibal, “The cinemas of South Perth”, typescript, held in South Perth Heritage House
Stage, Screen and Stars, West Australian, n.d. (1997?), p.40
Australasian Exhibitor, 23 May 1968, p.5; 30 May 1968, p.5; 6 June 1968, p.5
Film Weekly, 11 July 1968, p.8; 18 July 1968, p.1
Film Weekly Directory, 1943 – 1971
Kino, no.23, March 1988, p.23; no.25, September 1988, pp.10,12; no.28, June 1989, p.23; no.36, June 1991, p.24; no.52, June 1995, p.30; no.53, September 1995, p.31
Post Office Directory, 1938 – 1949
West Australian, 12 December 1938, 1939 – 2000
Ross Thorne, Cinemas of Australia via USA, p.237
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Arthur Stiles (1985)

Photos: 1 interior (Como foyer), b&w, 1954 (Arthur Stiles)

1 exterior (Como), b&w, Community News, South Perth Community Centre Association Inc, vol.5, no.2, Feb.1951
1 exterior (Cygnet), b&w, Film Weekly 18 July 1968, p.1
1 exterior (Cygnet), colour, 1981 (Bill Turner)
2 exteriors (Cygnet), colour, 1983 (Roy Mudge)
18 interiors (Cygnet), colour, 1983 (Roy Mudge)
1 exterior, b&w, 1986 (Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, p24)
1 exterior (Cygnet), b&w, 1988, Kino, no.28, June 1989, p.6 (Lynne Robins)
1 exterior (Cygnet), b&w, 1986, Kino, no.25, September 1988, p.10 (Byron Geneve)

 

PIER PICTURES, Como

It is not clear whether Pier Pictures screened at Como or in Perth or Fremantle, but they seem to have been presenting films around 1910-1911 and to have been in Como in January 1911.
Sources: West Australian, 10 December 1910, 2 January 1911

COOLGARDIE

CREMORNE AND GARDENS, Bayley St, Coolgardie

Cremorne gardens coolgardie
Cremorne Gardens 1997
The Cremorne Hotel was built in 1897, on the south side of Bayley St, between Ford and Renou Streets. It was a two-storey red brick building, which had a balcony in front of the second storey. The associated Cremorne Theatre and Gardens opened in 1899 at the back of the hotel and survived to 1928 (there is one reference to a Cremorne Gardens, 2 March 1901). Before the hotel closed, the theatre closed and was burnt down.
In the nineties the Cremorne Hotel was a private residence.
Sources: Shire of Coolgardie, Municipal Inventory, site no.14
Post Office Directories 1899-1928
Kalgoorlie Miner 2 March 1901
West Australian 1985
Photos: 1 exterior, b&w, 1995, Shire of Coolgardie, Municipal Inventory, site no.14
1 exterior, colour (Cremorne Hotel), 1997, Graeme Bertrand

THEATRE ROYAL, Woodward St, Coolgardie

The Theatre Royal opened in 1897 on the north side of Woodward St, between Hunt and Ford Sts. It seems to have lasted only till 1899? It is not clear whether films were ever screened there.
One story is that this building was transferred to the Christian Aboriginal Parent-directed School: this is located on the east side of Moran St, between Lindsay and Sylvester Sts, and is classified by the National Trust.
Sources: Shire of Coolgardie, Municipal Inventory, site no.53
Post Office Directory 1897-1898

TIVOLI, Bayley St, Coolgardie

The Tivoli Building is recorded on the west side of Bayley St, between Ford and Hunt Sts in 1899, and this may have been where the Tivoli Theatre opened in 1900. It was used mainly as a live venue, presenting vaudeville and other performances, but it did occasionally screen films, until it closed in 1935?
Sources: Post Office Directories 1900-1935/6

Kalgoorlie Miner 1903, 1914

TOWN HALL AND GARDENS, Bayley St, Coolgardie

coolgardie
Town Hall and Gardens 1997
coolgardie town hall and gardens

Coolgardie Town Hall and Gardens

The Coolgardie Town Hall was built in the 1890s on the north side of Bayley St, between Moran and Lefroy Sts and near the Lefroy St corner. The hall was timber-framed and clad in corrugated iron, and in 1903 red brick Road Board offices were built in front, two rooms deep.
In the early years, occasional film screenings were presented there, and it may have been the venue for the presentations of the Salvationa Army Biorama Company, which visited the town in October 1900, October 1902, March 1904, November 1904 and December 1904. Screenings were sometimes presented by the Roads Board itself, sometimes by commercial companies such as Electra Pictures (from Boulder), which screened here in June 1910.
An open air theatre was added later. There was a small garden on the corner of Bayley and Lefroy Sts next to the Roads Board building which at that point was only two rooms deep. The open air theatre extended from Lefroy St, behind the small garden and across the back of the Roads Board building, with the bio-box built just behind that building. The hall and gardens both held about 300 – 350. In the forties, this was the only venue in Coolgardie presenting regular screenings, and that only one night a week. It seems to have been operated for one year in 1948/9 by P.Dewar, then till the late fifties by Doulas & Sheed. Screenings may have continued into the sixties, sponsored in the later years by the Roads Board itself.
In 1999, the biobox was still standing, though no longer in use.
Sources: The Heritage of Western Australia: the Illustrated Register of the National Estate , Macmillan 1989, pp.84-5
Shire of Coolgardie, Municipal Inventory, site no.27
Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1968/9
Post Office Directory 1946-1949
Max Bell, Perth, a cinema history, The Book Guild Ltd, Lewes, Sussex 1986, p.105
Kalgoorlie Miner, 1 June 1910
Photos: 1 exterior, b&w, n.d., The Heritage of Western Australia: the Illustrated Register of the National Estate, Macmillan 1989, p.84
1 exterior, b&w, 1995, Shire of Coolgardie, Municipal Inventory, site no.27
2 exteriors(biobox behind town hall, showing picture gardens location), colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand

COOROW

HALL (AND GARDENS), South St, Coorow

The first Coorow Hall was opened on 11 January 1923. It was a large, timber building, with a corrugated iron roof, and a tiny porch extending in front. Inside, it was lined only halfway up, and had no built-in bio-box. Pictures were projected through holes in a temporary wooden screen erected in the body of the hall (or perhaps through portholes cut in the double doors?), onto a white-painted screen. Screenings were weekly, on Brigg’s circuit round the district. There is anecdotal evidence that Briggs conducted open-air screenings in the enclosure beside the Coorow Hotel: Fred Croft can remember seeing The Squatter’s Daughter there, but it is not certain that that screening would have been at the time of the film’s first release in 1933. Perhaps Briggs used that enclosure as the summer venue, and the old hall in the winter, but it is not clear when these arrangements began or ended. At some stage, Coorow came onto Tom Nulsen’s circuit which was purchased in 1940 by Ray Dean.
The hall was demolished after the new hall was built in Main St in 1956.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1950/51
Shire of Coorow, Municipal Inventory, place no.3
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Ray Dean (1997)
Informant: Fred Croft (1997)
Photos: 1 exterior, b&w, c.1924, Shire of Coorow, Municipal Inventory, place no.3

HALL AND GARDENS, Main St, Coorow

The new Coorow hall was opened on 4 August 1956. It is described in the Municipal Inventory like this:

A medium size rectangular hall with central roof and two lean-to roofs each side. The side walls have brick buttresses and are rendered to one metre height. Windows along each side of the building are timber framed and double hung. The entry porch has a flat roof leading via steps to double entry doors. Standing metal letters ‘Coorow District Hall’ are situate above the entry porch.

The hall was funded by a loan raised by Carnamah Road Board on behalf of the Coorow Ward ratepayers, as Coorow did not become a separate Shire until 1963. It had a built-in bio-box, and screenings began almost immediately after it opened.
Ray Dean transferred his film screenings from the old hall to the new one and built an open air theatre on the east side of the new hall. This consisted of a permanent bio-box and screen, but the area was left unfenced and chairs were taken out of the hall when necessary and returned there after use.
Coorow was one of the towns on the section of Dean’s circuit that he sold to Dave Cox and Neil McKee, with Vic Basham taking over from McKee shortly afterwards. When that partnership split up, Cox operated in Coorow on his own, with Rodney Croft as projectionist for some years. Ray Dean then returned, until drive-ins forced the closure of halls in the smaller towns.
Sources: Shire of Coorow,Municipal Inventory, place no.2

Interview (Ina Bertrand): Vic Basham (1997), Ray Dean (1997)
Informant: Fred Croft (1997)

Photos: 1 exterior, b&w, 1995, Shire of Coorow, Municipal Inventory, place no.2

CORRIGIN

CORRIGIN DRIVE-IN, Centenary Ave, Corrigin

Corrigin Drive in 1989
Corrigin Drive In 1989
Corrigin drive in 00 2 R M

Corrigin Drive In 1989

Corrigin drive in 003

Corrigin Drive In 1989

Corrigin drive in remins 1980 Max bell
Corrigin Drive In remains 1980
Paddy Baker replaced his hall show with a drive-in, on the east side of Centenary Ave, near the junction with Larke Crescent. It opened on 22 October 1965, with provision for 150 cars and deck chairs provided for walk-in patrons. Baker sold it in about 1978, to Kevin West, who operated it till it closed in 1983.
Brian Richard, who assisted West for the last few years, remembers that the best film at Corrigin was in about 1979, when Gone with the wind filled the venue to overflowing for two nights: this was the only time they ever turned cars away. He also remembers people starting to use two-way radios in the drive-in, which overrode the speakers and made it impossible for people to hear the film, so a notice was put over the microphone to stop or leave!
In 1997 the ticket box and the driveway light stands were still there, and the concession/bio-box was used as a residence and business office for Quality Breeding Services.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1968/9 – 1971
Public Health Department, building permit, Batty 1459
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, p.133
Merredin Mercury, 20 October 1965
Interview (Peter Morris): Paddy Baker (1978)
Informant: Brian Richard (1997
Photos; 1 exterior, colour, 1980, Max Bell
3 exterior, colour, 1989, Roy Mudge

TOWN HALL, Corrigin

Corrigin town hall

Corrigin Town Hall 1997

Corrigin Town Hall 1996 001
Corrigin Town Hall 1996
Corrigin Town Hall 1996 002
Corrigin Town Hall interior 1996
Athol Pearmine was screening at Corrigin in the twenties, but it is not clear where.
The Town Hall was officially opened on 20 March 1929. The large hall has a gable roof of corrugated iron, and a flat-roofed section at the front, with a decorative facade which hides the original bio-box built on the flat section: the original staircase to this has been removed, so access to this is now only through a manhole in the ceiling. A second bio-box was built later on the ground floor level.
This hall was on Paddy Baker’s circuit, visited occasionally at first, then regularly, from at least 1940 to the mid-sixties.
The building is still in use, but the projectors have been removed from the bio-box.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1964/5

Everyone’s 7 March 1928, p.18
Interview (Peter Morris): Paddy Baker (1978), Roy Mudge (1997)
Informant: Brian Richard (Corrigin, 24 August 1997)

Photos: 1 exterior, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand

1 exterior Roy Mudge, 1996

1 interior Roy Mudge, 1996

COTTESLOE

LIDO GARDENS, Forrest St, Cottesloe

This gardens, holding 550 patrons, was the third venue in the Cottesloe area operated by Lewis M. Hatfield. It was constructed in 1935 at the corner of Forrest St and Marine Parade, overlooking the ocean and behind the Lido Tea-rooms, which were later removed in pieces and relocated to Rockingham as a weekend cottage. The Lido Cabaret was then built on the corner in front of the gardens. The gardens was called a Chinese Gardens, because the construction had a chinese flavour. The gardens closed in 1960 and the Cabaret in 1966, after which the site was again used for a restaurant – the Mandarin, which was sold in 1996.
Sources: Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, p.59
Max Bell, ´Looking back’, Kino, no.41, September 1992, pp.16-17
Film Weekly Directory, 1948 – 9
Post Office Directory, 1936/7 – 1949
Post, 12-13 October 1996, p.6
West Australian, 1935 – 1960
Informant: Peter Thomson (Fremantle 1997)

WELLS HALL/ COTTESLOE THEATRE AND GARDENS, 114 Stirling Hwy, Cottesloe

On 16 January 1912 a picture stadium seating 1000 was opened in Swanbourne Tce (now Marine Pde), Cottesloe Beach, between Pearse and Jarrod Sts, where the golf course now is. It was advertised as “Right on the cliffs, where ocean breezes blow” (West Australian, 13 Jan.1912), and was the first purpose-built cinema premises in the suburbs.
An indoor cinema had already been started in Wells Hall on the north-east corner of the intersection of Leake St with (what is now) the Stirling Highway. This had been built round the turn of the century by Walter Wells, a contractor and partner in a local grocery store. Local historian Ruth Marchant describes it like this:

Wells Hall was a prominent two storey building on the corner of Leake Street and the Perth-Fremantle Road, this site where years later the Hatfield family built their cinema and picture gardens is now dominated by today’s Grove Shopping Centre. The ground floor of the Wells Hall housed several shops, one of these was occupied by well known grocer, S.J.Luce. Gawned’s dining room (the ‘Cottesloe Hall’) and a small confectionery shop stood next door. The building also included a number of offices and meeting rooms, upstairs consisted of a large hall complete with stage and dressing conveniences and space used by the Freemason’s Boronia lodge. Wells Hall, being so centrally positioned, was the venue for local concerts, charitable Fetes and Balls.

Films were screened there as early as November 1904, when Stevenson’s Royal Biograph visited for two nights on tour. From 8 August 1910 regular weekly screenings were held in the hall, and this was later extended to two nights a week, and then three. On other nights of the week the hall was used for dances or meetings of local groups.
For a period of several months in 1913 the film programmes at Wells Hall were running in competition with Cottesloe Picture Gardens. However, by 1920 the business was being run by Claremont Picture Theatres (Frank? Buxton in partnership with Charles Stewart, who also ran the Princess Theatre and Claremont Gardens), and it was probably they who resited the gardens in Stirling Hwy, round the corner from the hall, the performance being in one or the other depending on the weather. This was certainly how the business was run in 1923, when the building was purchased by Stewart’s brother-in-law, L.M.Hatfield. They continued in partnership for some time, until Hatfield bought Stewart out, and formed Cottesloe District Pictures, running the Cottesloe Gardens, the Lido Gardens and Mosman Park Gardens. Alterations costing more than £3,000 were undertaken in 1928, and in 1937 the hall was completely remodelled and became purely a cinema. At this stage the hall and gardens each held 900. In the sixties, the company bought up surrounding properties until they had enough to interest a development company, which demolished everything on the site and constructed the Grove Shopping Centre.
In 1996, Hoyts were reported to be interested in installing cinemas within the Grove Shopping Centre…
Sources: Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, pp.23, 57
Max Bell, ´Looking back’, Kino, no.41, September 1992, p.16
Ruth Marchant James, Heritage of Pines: a history of the town of Cottesloe,W.A., Town of Cottesloe Council, 1977, p.94
Robert Pascoe, West Australia’s capital suburb: Peppermint Grove, OUP 1983, pp.77, 109, 129
Everyone’s, 25 April 1928, p.26
Film Weekly Directory, 1943/4 – 1961/2
Kino, no.58, December 1996, p.31
West Australian, 1910 – 1920, 17 January 1912, 1961 – 1962
Interview (Bill Turner): Arthur Hatfield (1981)
Interview (Margaret Howroyd): Peter Thomson (1994)Photo: 1 exterior, n.d., Stage, Screen and Stars, West Australian, n.d. (1997?), p.43

COWARAMUP

SHOWGROUNDS/ HALL, Cowaramup

Owen Terry and Bert McLean ran a circuit which included Cowaramup as well as Augusta, Karridale, Witchcliffe and Margaret River. In the twenties they screened in a shed in the Cowaramup showgrounds. Their circuit was purchased for a short time by Mr Barnes, then by Fred West.
The Cowaramup Hall was opened in 1930 and was used for film screenings from the beginning. It was part of Allan Jones’ circuit from the forties to the early sixties, but it is not clear when these screenings ceased.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1964/5
Gail J. Cresswell, The light of Leeuwin: the Augusta-Margaret River Shire History , Augusta-Margaret River Shire history Group, 1989Photo: 1 exterior, b&w, 1930, Gail J. Cresswell, The light of Leeuwin: the Augusta-Margaret River Shire History , Augusta-Margaret River Shire history Group, 1989, p.218

CRANBROOK

CRANBROOK MEMORIAL HALL, Gathorne St, Cranbrook

Cranbrook Memorial hall
Cranbrook Memorial Hall 1997
S. Bennett’s Columbia Talkies circuit visited Cranbrook in 1940. By the middle forties, the town was on Joe Rourke’s circuit, out of Kojonup, and around 1950 – 1952 it was visited by the Kanzler circuit.
The Cranbrook Memorial Hall was built on the north side of Gathorne St, between Gordon and Dunn Sts. It opened on 31 August 1957, incorporating earlier halls, including the earliest
which is now in use as a surgery.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41, 1945/6 – 1951/2
Informant: Mrs Rourke (Bullcreek 1997), Phil Smith (1998)
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Brian Rourke (1997)
Photo: 1 exterior, colour, 1997 (Graeme Bertrand)

CRAWLEY

SOMERVILLE AUDITORIUM, Howard St, Crawley

In 1927, trees were planted within the grounds of the University of Western Australia to form the skeleton of an outdoor theatre, based on the nave and transcript plan of a cathedral. The boundaries of the site were marked by a thicket of Western Australian peppermint, rather than the clumsy and often unsightly walls required by more exposed open-air venues. Two rows of Norfolk Island pines were planted to represent pillars within the cathedral, and have now grown to a great height, shading the grassy seating areas. The only buildings have been various versions of stage and screen at one end of the clearing, and of a bio-box at the other. Seating was at first on the grass, then later on canvas deckchairs.
Live performances began there in the twenties and the first film screened was in January 1947. Between 1952 and approx. 1959 films were regularly screened there by the Adult Education Board, and part of the early Festival of Perth was staged there. Summer seasons have continued most years since then, as part of Perth’s International Arts Festival which in 2003 celebrated its 50th year of operation.
Sources: Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, p.48
Max Bell, Kino, no.27, March 1989, p.14-15
Ross Thorne, Cinemas of Australia via USA, p.237
Film Weekly Directory, 1952/3 – 1966/7
Kino, no.39, March 1992, p.25; no.40, June 1992, p.26; no.63, Autumn 1998, p.34; no.83, Autumn 2003, p.43.
West Australian, 1952 – 1959
Photos: 2 exteriors, b&w, 1988 (Max Bell, Kino, no.27, March 1989, p.15)

CUE

HALL AND GARDENS, Dowley St, Cue

cue 3
Cue Hall and Gardens 1996
Cue 1
Advertising Cues Pictures in 1908
cue 2
1996
Cue was the centre of the very rich Murchison goldfields, exploited from the late 1880s. A sign of the wealth that this brought to the town is the very impressive government buildings still standing in the main street, built in 1894, and the fact that twenty-five police were stationed in the town by the turn of the century. There is a panoramic photo of the town in 1906, showing just how large and prosperous it had become, and also clearly showing the first Town Hall, in splendid isolation in Dowley/Victoria St.
The early history of pictures in the town is cloudy. The Salvation Army Biorama Company visited the town in September 1900, September 1902, January-February 1904 and December 1904. The Murchison Bioscope Co presented a programme in January 1911, but it is not clear whether this was one of a series. The postcard (listed below, from the Allan Osborne Cinema Collection) was dated 15 August 1908, and shows that Page’s Pictures toured with the All-Blacks. Bob Yelland says that, in the days when the Great Fingall mine (at nearby Day Dawn) was closed during World War 1 because it was owned by Germans, the hall and gardens in Cue were run by Herbert and Trefry. From 1920 to 1924 Gill and Pratt were registered in Film Weekly Directory as exhibitors at Cue, and in 1936/7 the registered exhibitor was G.E.Prendergast. Ray Dean remembers working for a circuit operator in Cue in 1930, but cannot remember his name.
The story becomes clearer from 1939, when Consolidated Theatres began screening one night per week in the public hall and the gardens next door, each with a capacity of 250 people. George Yelland managed the business (along with that in Big Bell), till he left the town about 1958. Screenings took place on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The hall was on the south-east side of Dowley St (north of Robinson St, in a section of the road that may have been called Victoria St), and was a simple corrugated iron structure, later lined with plaster board. It had a stage, with a piano for the silent films, and a small concession shop on the left side of the entrance. Seating, for both the hall and gardens, was on individual, wooden-framed, canvas-covered deckchairs.
The gardens was on the south side of the hall, surrounded by a high corrugated iron fence. The ticket box was in the middle of the front wall, with entry gates on either side, and the toilets at either side of the screen on the back wall. All seats cost the same and patrons could sit where they liked: some people had their favourite seats, and children tended to cluster towards the front. There was also a ´back stalls’ – on the hill behind, where those who could not afford the entrance fee (including most of the aboriginal people in the town) would gather. The floor was gravel, and there was no attempt to beautify the venue with trees and shrubs.
The bio-box was above the hall entrance, with access up an external staircase in the gardens, as it served both the hall and the open air theatre. In the thirties, children would be given 6d for the pictures and 1d to spend, and could purchase lollies (2 for 1d) from the serving tray taken around by a girl. The children would also gather up the bottles after the screening to earn a few pence from the refunds.
This hall was struck by lightning and burnt down on 5 March 1955: heavy rain was not enough to stop the hall burning, but did stop the fire spreading to fences, trees and the picture screen in the gardens. When the hall site was cleared of rubble, the screenings continued in the gardens (presumably with a makeshift bio-box?), even in winter, when people drove their cars onto the site like a primitive drive-in, and heard the sound broadcast from loudspeakers.
The new hall was the men’s change and shower room transported from the Big Bell mine, which had closed in 1954. It was officially opened during the Cue Race Club’s October meeting in 1957, and screenings continued in this hall for some years just as they had before the fire.
In the late fifties, however, the town declined dramatically and screenings ceased, in both hall and gardens. In later years, films were occasionally screened in the fire brigade hall and in the aboriginal hostel, but there were no further regular screenings in the town. The hall survives in excellent condition, and the grassed area fenced off to the south side, on the site of the former gardens could very easily be used again for that purpose.
Sources: Post Office Directory 1920-1924, 1936/7
Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1960/1
P.R.Heydon, Just a century ago: a history of the Shire of Cue, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, 1987
P.R.Heydon, Gold on the Murchison: a tale of twin towns – Cue and Daydawn – of people, progress and gold, Hesperian Press 1986
Interview (Ina Bertrand): R. Yelland
Informants: Thelma Zadow, Jean Pigdon (1997)
Limelight Picture Show Tours, http//:www.abc.net.au/limelight/docs/tours
Photos: 1 exterior (bandstand in Cue, advertising Page’s Pictures in 1908, from the Allan Osborne Cinema Collection), b&w, n.d., photographer not known
1 exterior (gardens site), colour, 1999, Graeme Bertrand
1 exterior (hall), colour, 1999, Graeme Bertrand
1 exterior (hall), b&w, 1982, Cue Tourist/History Brochure

CUNDERDIN

CUNDERDIN DRIVE-IN, West Main St, Cunderdin

Cunderdin RM 1
Cunderdin Drive In 1981
cunderdin 4 R M

Cunderdin Drive In 1981

cunderdin 2 RM

Cunderdin Drive In 1981

cunderdin 3 RM

Cunderdin Drive In 1981

Local historian Joseph Stokes (p.246) explains:
Early in 1963 it was announced that the site for Cunderdin’s modern drive-in cinema would be just west of the townsite, on land belonging to James Stokes. The drive-in would have all facilities – latest projection equipment, cafeteria and lounge deck. The company formed to manage the drive-in was chaired by Steve Lundy with J.Stokes, N.Robinson, P.Baker, H.Jasper and E.H.Harris as directors. The President of the Cunderdin Shire Council, G.F.(Pat) Dennis, officially opened the drive-in on 24 January and the first night proceeds were donated to the Hospital Fund.
It held 200 cars at first, later increased to 260, and was operated by Paddy Baker after screenings in the hall closed. The drive-in closed in May 1986, and in 1989 was purchased by a church group for use with aboriginal outreach. It was later added to John Marsden’s chain of country drive-ins, but was not in use and had been vandalised in 1992.
In 1997 it was occupied by Trufab Engineering. The screen was still standing and appeared to be in good condition, and the perimeter lighting was still in place. But a large corrugated iron building now occupied the middle of the site, and the concession/bio-box building was in use as an office.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1963/4 – 1971
Public Health Department, building permit, Battye 1459
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, p.133
Max Bell, Kino, no.15, March 1986, p.22; no.30, December 1989, p.23; no.41, September 1992, p.27
Joseph Placid Stokes, Cunderdin-Meckering: a wheatlands history, Hyland House, South Yarra, 1986
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Alan Larkin (1985)
Interview (Peter Morris): Paddy Baker (1978)
Photos: 2 exterior (ramps and screen), colour, 1981, Roy Mudge
2 exterior (entrance), colour, 1981, Roy Mudge

ROADS BOARD HALL/ SHIRE HALL AND GARDENS, Main St, Cunderdin

cunderdin hall 1
Cunderdin Hall 1997
cunderdin hall 2

Cunderdin Hall interior 1997

cunderdin hall 3

Cunderdin Hall interior 1997

The Roads Board hall was constructed of brick with a cement facing, and consisted of a hall, a supper room, and a scullery with stove and copper. It was officially opened in October 1910 and the first film screenings were held there in 1916, though at first the hall did not have a bio-box. Later a bio-box was constructed on pillars just inside the entrance, with a wall joining the pillars so that entry was now through the main hall doors and then right or left to either side of the wall. At this time, the screen was on the stage. Local historian, J.P.Stokes, explains:
Miss K.Whitmore had played the piano for six of the eight years her father ran “the silents” in the hall and she had given pleasure to countless people trying to forget the Depression. The first talkie shown was Joan Bennett in “Hush Money” and just one week later the Hon.J.Scaden MLA, Minister for Industry, officially opened the Cunderdin talkies.
The hall, which held 400 patrons, was on Paddy Baker’s circuit, which started in the late twenties. It was run by the Roads Board in the forties, by Vince Lucas in the fifties, and it was operated just before it closed by N. Robinson.
At some stage (date not clear) an open air theatre was constructed behind the hall, with the screen at the end furthest from the hall. At this time, the bio-box within the hall was re-located to the back of the stage, so that it could be swung round to project out through ports in the back wall of the stage into the open air theatre. Inside the hall, the screen was now on the wall of what had been the bio-box, and the old bio-box became a storeroom.
Entrance to the open air theatre was along the right side of the hall, with the ticket box located at the back of the hall at the entrance to the open air venue. The external toilet blocks were used by patrons in either the hall or the open air theatre.
The hall and gardens both closed after the drive-in was built.
Sources: Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 – 1963/4
Shire of Cunderdin,Heritage Inventory, site 35
Max Bell, Perth – a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, 1986, p.107
Joseph Placid Stokes, Cunderdin-Meckering: a wheatlands history, Hyland House, South Yarra, 1986>
Informant: Ken Pettit (1997)
Photos: 1 exterior, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand
2 interiors, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand

CURRAMBINE

GRAND CINEMA COMPLEX, cnr Marmion Ave & Shenton Ave, Currambine

This megaplex (the third of the new Grand Cinemas, after Warwick and Bunbury) opened with six screens on 1 June 1999. It included two megascreens, the larger of which was the only cinema in the state with a sound system fully equipped for screening Star Wars 1 (The Phantom Menace) in 1999.
Sources: Kino, no.69, Spring 1999, p.35
West Australian 1999 – 2000