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Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ye Olde Richmond Theatres

Meeting up with an 'old' Richmondite recently (he has returned to Australia after 60 years abroad) I was fascinated to learn that one of his fondest memories as a child was visiting Ye Olde Picture Theatre (my words!) in Bridge Road. Where was it I wondered aloud? We were sitting having a coffee at Chimmys just a hop step and a jump from it and it's almost next door to the Richmond Town Hall. I pass it every day. I'd never 'seen' it. 
The picture theatre - you can see the old roof behind
And so I took a different type of stroll through Barbeques Galore. I wasn't looking for a hotplate, BBQ tongs or a $10,000 outdoor kitchen (what's all that about!) instead I was looking up. I couldn't believe that I have missed it on all my previous visits. And yet there was the theatre staring me in the face. 
The old arched roof looking towards the 'screen'
I will never pass by without a certain knowing of what it was. No doubt destined for the wreckers eventually.
Looking up to the projection room (3 projector 'holes')
However there is one extraordinary theatre where the inside is 'Heritage Listed' and will therefore be saved. Well it would help if the owner was subsidised to 'save it'. On a recent visit I had the priviledge of being shown around - tiptoeing through the 'Staff Only' doors. It's an extraordinary building which is stuffed to the rafters (literally) with new and used furniture, kitchens, bathrooms, office furniture (well almost anything you may need!). Let me take you for a walk through this extraordinary building that we know as Swan Street Sales Auctions (I love that Auctions still features on the building and their promotional material). 
What a beautiful old building
The last time it was used as a theatre was for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Since 1958 it has operated as Swan Street Sales Auctions. You will find it at - surprise surprise - 365 Swan Street between Coppin and Burnley Streets.    
Just look at that roof above the proscenium arch

A view from the 'gods' - the stage is full of mattresses
The dome with perfect  acoustics
The $10,000 renovation of the left hand 'box'

The unrenovated 'box' - note the 'hanging' columns & raw brick walls
Très élégant (!) bar on the upper level (now the staff bar!)
The other side of the beautiful but crumbling arch over the stage
How much more fun to go to the movies (can you imagine The Great Gatsby in 3D here!) than the soulless modern cinemas serving popcorn, icecreams and drinks (probably a bit more comfortable). And to see a live show - amazing. The only live show nowadays is the bargain shopper.

If you've never popped into either building - do so. It will take you back to another era - one that is fast disappearing.

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