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THE SOUTHERN CROSS THEATRE  (Conclusion)                                     by Ron Lambert

            Of the official opening, or re-opening, the Essendon Gazette of 17th August, 1939, reported;-

            "Official Opening of the Regal Theatre" A charming colour harmony, luxurious furnishings, and spacious lounges
            combine to give a restful atmosphere to the new Regal Theatre which, in the present trend of futuristic stream-
            lining, introduces a sense of luxurious comfort without ostentation. No expense has been spared to transform
            this spacious theatre into the acme of modern luxury to be found in suburban picture theatres.

            The official opening of the Regal Theatre, which is situated at the corner of Buckley Street and Lincoln Road,
            Essendon, was performed by the acting Mayor of Essendon (Coun. L.J. Thompson) who was accompanied by
            Mrs. Thompson, on Thursday evening last, when the new theatre was crowded with a representative gathering
            of civic dignitaries, neighbouring theatre managements and prominent citizens.

            The new theatre is richly furnished, with luxurious carpets and Dunlopillo chairs featuring a softly toned rust
            colour,  the same tint being  used  for all the  interior decorations, the only relief being the introduction of an
            harmonious blending of apple gree(l.  This delicate colour combination provides a restful colour scheme in the
            spacious foyers and lounges. where inviting chairs and divans introduce an atmosphere of comfort. The same
            distinctive good taste marks the interior decoration of the auditorium, with its colonnade of attached columns
            surrounded with a classic frieze supporting the wide segmented ceiling.  The harmonious colour blending and
            original decorative t(eatment is yet another triumph for the well-known local firm of interior decorators, J.K.
            Pettigrew and Sons., this being the 79th theatre contract to be completed by them.

            The highlight reflective value of the beautiful crushed velour curtains shielding the proscenium is enhanced by
            vari-coloured lighting effects, giving a soft brilliance and warmth for general illumination.  The electrical instal-
            lation throughout the Regal was executed by the local electricians, C.D. Elder and  Co. Pty.  Ltd. One is  im-
            pressed with the comfortable and even distribution of heat in the theatre.  On investigation one finds that the
            heating energy comes from a series of very modern looking cabinets (not unlike radio consoles).  These are
            Bedford Gas Consolairs and are made by the well-known manufacturers, William Bedford Ltd., and installed
            by the Metropolitan Gas Company.

            One can well understand the popularity of this form of heating as, in addition to the undoubted efficiency of the
            units, Bedford Consolairs are modem. refined and attractive in  appearance and, what is more to the  point.
            most economical to install and maintain.  Gone are the days when the cinema patron was obliged to sit out a
            programme in the atmosphere and temperature of an ice chamber.  The Regal Theatre authorities are to be
            congratulated on providing such a delightfully cosy atmosphere for their patrons during the winter months. and
            have set a standard which must in a very short space of time be copied by all others.  Bedford Gas Consolairs
            are equaiJy effective in the shop, schoolroom or house.

            A most up-to-date sound and projection equipment has been installed ensuring perfect reproduction while the
            programmes  will include the finest entertainment available, featuring the outstanding pictures from the leading
            American and English studios. An innovation for an Essendon theatre is the provision of a special crying room
            where mothers can view the  programmes in perfect comfort while being sure that their babies, if  restless,
            cannot disturb the enjoyment of other patrons. The efficient and courteous staff of usherettes wear tailored
            frocks of satin in the same rich rust colour and matching satin shoes, while the pockets are adorned with an "R"
            richly embroidered in green.

            The theatre is conveniently situated being close to the tram, train and bus routes and arrangements are being
            made with bus proprietors to facilitate the buses stopping  at the theatre at the time of the close of the pro-
            gramme, which is just another of those extra services which the management of the Regal accord their pa-
            trons, while a special car park, free of charge, is available to the patrons." It is obvious from the foregoing that,
            although the theatre was not open to the public until Saturday, August 12th, the official opening ceremony was
            on Thursday, 10th August.

            When Burgoyne and Casey took over the Southern Cross In 1926, the seating capacity was 1400; under the
            Hoyts banner, this figure dropped to 1150.  There is no mention of the seating capacity in the two preceding
            reports but the Film Weekly Motion Picture Directory for 1948-49 shows the capacity of the Regal as 980 and
            for 1958-59 as 906. This drop would undoubtedly be due to several rows of the front stalls being removed in the
            mid 1950's to permit the installation of a wide screen to enable productions made in Metroscope, Vista Vision
            and other systems to be screened. These processes were developed in the United States to combat the effects
            of television on attendances at picture theatres but, of course, television had not reached Australia at that time.
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