Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's the thartre darling

We took a little journey into the grandly named Royal Historical Society of Victoria to see the temporary exhibition Melbourne Theatres in Transition - 1840s to 1940s, An idiosyncratic view.The RHSV is located at the corner of William and A'Beckett Streets in what was an old army drill hall. I didn't use the camera flash and if I'd had the photos printed, I would've ripped them up. However, I think can make something of interest from them.

This is Melbourne's much loved Astor theatre in St Kilda. I was amazed that this photo was taken in 1936 and it had the same neon lighting as it does today. In fact the building itself has changed very little.

This is a copy of a gorgeous and well known Art Deco style poster of the Astor.

I don't recall seeing a photo of the old Palais de Danse next to the Palais Theatre.

Here is a better photo of the Palais de Danse.

Now this one intrigued me as I knew nothing of it. It is the Regal Theatre in Camberwell, the locality being Hartwell. This is not a photo but artwork. It looks fantastic but photos of it are hard to find.

This one photo I could find of the Regal was from a newsletter on the website of the Camberwell Historical Society. I like. Its location was where Toorak Road and Camberwell Road meet, where there is a triangular site as Camberwell Road comes in at a forty five degree angle. I recall there being a car yard there and at some point a Pizza Hut. It is now high rise apartments that absolute dominate like a solid wall. The Regal was erected in 1937 and R tells me he saw something that said it was demolished in either 1965 or 1968.

We left the exhibition and strolled towards the QV shopping centre. I have left this photo in its original size in case someone is nerdy as I am and want to look closely. The house silhouette is brilliant and you can see the wonky chimney rising before its cap.

Oh, and what might have once been in this building, a whole three floors? Not too many gay Melburnian men of a certain age would not know.

The Argus building. The Argus was a Melbourne newspaper that closed in about 1956. About a year ago my nephew and a couple of mates climbed up into the tower atop and drank beer and looked at the city lights. They were not responsible for the graffiti. Nevertheless, no one is doing anything with the building and there is a chance it will end up being so badly vandalised, it will not be worth saving. Demolition by neglect is tactic favoured by property developers, whereby they allow a property to become such an eyesore, people are happy to see it pulled down. I'm not accusing, just saying.
The bloody abortion of modern and old architecture that is Storey Hall. The old building was barely worth saving but it didn't deserve to end up looking so absurd. See Victor, there are actually people in Melbourne, in spite of my frequent efforts to show that there aren't.


  1. Storey Hall is the only thing in Melbourne more hideous than Federation Square.

    [Unless we start listing 'personalities']

  2. Greetings from Portugal!

    I thought I knew of all the old and elegant Deco buildings, even those that had since been destroyed by vandal developers. But not the Regal Theatre in Camberwell. What a shame - it looks as if it was very elegant in its time.

  3. Hi. I saw the PALAIS DE DANSE burn down but had nothing to do with it, and some kid (not me) tossed a cracker at the screen starting a fire in the old Empress theatre ("The Bughouse") in Chapel Street, just to make the bugs dance. As a boy in bare feet I watched Prahran market burn down. All the canned and bottled goods were dumped at Richmond tip. My dad went there with a wheelbarrow, bringing loads of it home, and oh boy the triumph on that man's face! He had to open the cans to see what was in them; labels burnt off. Braised steak and onions was his favourite. What I've never forgotten is the taste of the Gherkin Relish, heat from the fire had done something to it, something special. I've though of heating a jar nowadays to reproduce it, that special taste. But oh my golly the memories, the emotion!

    Darlings, it would be too much for me.

  4. I love the old buildings with their carvings and faces and frills...seems to be a lost art

  5. Hello Andrew:
    What a fascinating exhibition and one which we should, whilst not knowing anything of the subjects included, have been most interested to see.

  6. I've a feeling that abandoned building, the old Argus is full of asbestos, hence the delay in redevelopment. It's tragic isn't it?

  7. aaah Storey Hall, I went to a rave there once! But yes, very unattractive!

  8. Anonymous6:28 pm

    OK I'll bite. Was the gay place you're talking about in Collingwood and a kind of private club???? V.

  9. Storey Hall has fond memories back to 1965 for me, and yes that green crap on it is crappy.
    Very evil that The Argus building looks like a dump. Asbestos is only a problem if developers WANT it to be a problem. I had 2 rough guys and their tiptruck do some demolition for me on a quote, and at the finish when they wanted their cash they said it was doubled because they found asbestos. I said to them "you are both smoking so you have cancer already and fvck off" and they did.
    Glad you were out in the fresh fresh air today. It was even fresher where I am so I watched the 5-rings circus in LON and worried about it making R homesick.
    x x

  10. Love the old picture theatres. Glad they kept some. The green haired building is hideous.

  11. FC, I don't mind the disabled friendly Fed Square. Ok, not so disabled friendly, but as a public space it seems to work.

    Hels, hope you are enjoying yourself and isn't the weather always good in Portugal. It was a new one to me too. I should have wondered in the past why the site was so large and what was there.

    RH, they had a photo and some details of the Empress too and that it burnt now. No mention of the cause though. I should add the extra info for them. Pre cooked in the can, haha.

    MC, you won't see people in fifty years trying to save buildings from now I expect.

    JayLa, as I mentioned, the suburb was called Camberwell. I am not also quite educated about theatres in Camberwell, England. Unintentionally, of course.

    Elisabeth, you have reminded me of that, but I have a vague recall it has been removed already.

    Fen, that would be quite a while ago.

    V, Steamworks, in Latrobe Street, a sauna. The owner has a beautiful property at Mt Macedon and hosts the annual Joy Midsumma picnic.

    Em Stacks, great tale about the rubbish guys. Who did they think they were dealing with. I saw most of the opening this morning. Liz escorted by Daniel Craig, haha.

    Dinane, I bet a few of yours disappeared in Joh's time. There is a website about all old Australian theatres. I should have searched for it first.

  12. My heart aches for the old Argus building and I hoped that the new owners would have some decent plans for it. Hell if I had the money I'd happily buy an apartment there.

    And the shiteous Storey building....! I won't rev myself up except to say that it looks like an enormous Shrek sneezed in it!

  13. Kath, I might quote you on that, the building Shrek sneezed on.

  14. Feq Square looks pretty fine for me.

    Storey Hall... Oh gosh, that green blob! Ewww!

  15. There, even the youngish Immigayrant hates Storey Hall.

  16. Andrew, I always knew from personal observation that there are people in Melbourne, indeed all of them congregate at one or match or other each weekend of winter at the Australian Football League. I just was in awe of your capacity to capture not a single one of them in your photographic streetscapes.

    Now turning to the Regal an enlargement of that photograph reveals the cinema was screening a movie featuring Clark Gable and Marion Davies. The latter is a fascination all of her own. She was a starlet who was the lady friend of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst and Davies are considered to be the real life models of the principal characters in Orson Welles' masterpiece 'Citizen Kane'.

  17. Victor, it was a weekday, so no footy fans. Actually, footy fans would not venture to that area. It is reserved for local students who couldn't get into a proper uni and overseas students.

    What interesting information a simple photo of an old theatre turned up, my dearest Rosebud. There is a website for old Melbourne Theatres. Where would I have filed it?

  18. Marion Davies couldn't act, only Hearst's influence got her a few roles. In Citizen Kane she's portrayed as a would-be singer who can't sing.