Two cinema interiors not protected, Richmond and Collingwood

Original post 24 April 2020

The second #cinemainterior I’m helping trying to save – this lattice ceiling is now hidden above shop partitions of the BBQ galore next to the Richmond Town Hall- it’s simpler than your average old cinema interior, but has a fascinating history. First built in 1888 as a #SkatingRink, when the craze first appeared, it was a huge corrugated iron clad hall with exposed trusses, also used for dances (2nd last photo is c1900). then in 1916 they just filled it with benches and put up a screen and called it a cinema – which fit 3000 people on a flat floor peering at a tiny screen in the distance – the crowd photo is of the smaller Lyric Theatre Brunswick in 1914 to give you an idea. Then in 1927 it got a makeover as per 1st pic to compete with the new more comfortable cinemas being built, with proper seats, an elaborate proscenium, and the 1888 trusses just had lattice and plaster attached to the underside, and the walls were rebuilt in brick (clearly they didn’t want to spend too much !), a little balcony inserted and a new facade (in rather retro style). It lasted like this till 1960, when it list the facade completely and became Kevin Dennis, then furniture then BBQs; the proscenium was still there in the 90s. In very recent times the big space got walks and lowered ceiling inserted but it’s all still there, minus the proscenium. No cinema interiors have been protected by a local council in Victoria, and the City of Yarra has only been half hearted, doing a study and proposing 3, then knocking 2 off at a Council meeting, this and the Burnley now destroyed, and their consultant at the hearing now going didn’t even support the last one. And in 2016 they also lost the Lyric Fitzroy (the one painted by Rone) so they might go from 4 to none.

Something I’m trying to help save- this is the interior of the #AustralTheatre in #JohnstonStreetCollingwood, near Hoddle, currently Inner City Floorworld. It’s a bit broken and battered and was more intact in the 2nd pic from 2016) , but the 1921 interior is mostly intact, with the balcony and even with the lobby ceiling and it’s chandelier. The proscenium is gone though (or possibly is inside an apartment built in that spot). My argument is that even though it’s not intact, any kind of old cinema interior is now rare, and even some of those on the Victorian Heritage Register arnt intact (eg the National in St Kilda has lost its proscenium too, though the remaining bits are very nice). I counted them up and there’s only about 35 left of the 350 purpose-built cinemas that once existed, including not completely intact ones like this (there’s only 22 fully intact, of which 8 are really just very plain halls). This compares well with the VHR listed, intact and operating 1926 #HorshamTheatre (2nd last pic) and the 1926 #ThornburyTheatre, only upper ceiling left, and not listed. So it’s important even though it doesn’t look great, and if we draw the line at mostly intact, then there’s only a few more than the 16 currently on the State list.

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