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AUCTIONING OFF OUR CINEMA PAST                                                  By Brian Miller

             Late in 1994, three former suburban cinemas came up for sale, the Sun in Yarraville, the ABC Waverley in East
             Malvern, and the Plaza in Chelsea.

             Despite glowing real estate reports of an attractive 1938 "Theatre Modernl~",  inspection of the Sun revealed a
             deplorable ruin with a most uncertain future. The Chelsea Plaza remains 1a.  bingo hall and several shops.

             The Waver1ey was one  of my "locals" in the forties and  it was  interestinlg to see it again after many years.
             Although originally an attractive, comfortable thirties-style building of abou1i 1150 seats, it was never as popular
             as its competitors at Malvern, Ormond and South Caulfield.

             The screening policy meant replacing some of the weaker features with revivals, and it was here I first saw Bob
             Hope's popular comedy-thriller "The Cat and the Canary",  and M.G.M.'s 1936 earthquake  blockbuster "San

             The Waverley interior is still definitely a theatre despite the addition of offices, recording studios and a flat floor
             in the stalls. Most of the art-deco plasteJWork has been replaced with sound-dampening curtains.  TM  sale
             was passed in at about $480,000.

             Many of our remaining converted cinemas are between sixty and eighty years old, are located in secondary
             commercial areas, and lack off-street parking. Major repairs such as new mofing are often required to remain

             If you have a spare $500,000 or so, three more auctions have been annoutnced this year- the Elwood Broad-
            way on February the 23rd, the Thornbury Regent (now Catania Reception Hooms) on the 1st of March, and the
             Oak1eigh Plaza (now a sports centre) on the 22nd ot March.

             The Broadway auction was interesting, and judging by the number of sightseers, well remembered by the local

             In the fifties, I spent a week at this theatre relieving the assistant projectionist, who was on leave. It was my
             introduction to the curious 20th Century Fox laboratory method of numbering single reels 1 A/8, 2A/B etcetera.
             I had only worked in non-Fox houses and spent most of the week wonderin!J if we were screening the right part.

             The programs changed twice weekly, usually fourth week independent reh~ase at the weekend in parallel with
             Gardenvale and past Hoyts shows midweek. Strong competition from St. Kilda and Elsternwick had an effect
             on Elwood. The Broadway also remains very much a theatre despite lashings of black paint everywhere, flat
             floors both upstairs and downstairs, and the addition of catering buffets.  The art-deco wall  panels and grills
             added  around 1929 to modernise the appearance have also  had the black paint treatment. Thanks to Peter
             O'Reilly's research at the Laverton North Public Records Office we have the following Broadway details:

                        Broadway Theatre Elwood           1919-1995

             1919       Plans were submitted, in June, by Mr. Robert Garfield Macartney, a builder and contractor, 90
                        Foam Street. June Elwood, for a Picture Theatre and Billiard Room in Ormond Road, Elwood.
                        Seating etc. to be supplied by Sadler Riddell & Co., 38 Lonsdale St, Melbourne. The owners of the
                        new picture thea.tre were Robert Macartney, Ralph Candy, ai11d Patrick Nestor.

             1920       The opening of the new theatre was approved, in October, blr the Victorian Health Department.
                        The manager was one of the part-owners, Mr.  Robert Macartney, of 157 The Esplanade, Elwood.

             1927       The Broadway was now leased and operated bY The Westgarth Theatre Property Ltd.

             1929       Electricity was installed, and two pairs of swing doors were in!stalled at the main entrance by A. E.
                        Watson, Builder & Contractor of 18 Spray St, Elwood.

             1·929      Rewinding room was built and the ceiling and windows were covered over.

             1933       The Broadway now owned by the Candy family, and was leased by the Victoria Theatre Company
                        of Richmond (later to become Consolidated Theatres Ltd). At this time the upstairs billiard room
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