Page 7 - CinemaRecord #11R.pdf
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Although the council and health department issued numerous directives, action to limit the audience and to
              ensure uncluttered exits only occurred when court action or closure was threatened. Perhaps the authorities
              showed some leniency because of the regular free film nights held at The Alhambra for soldiers on leave from
              the First World  War.

              The enterprise proved to be a successful one-man-show with Allen designing, managing and promoting the
              theatre for several years before leasing it and spending a good deal of time abroad.
              Although  he  retained  ownership of the Alhambra  until  1946,  for nearly three decades  it  was  managed  by
              lessees (Crisp and Smith Theatres, Associated Theatres, and Hoyts}. The building nearly came to a sorry end
              in 1944 when a film became jammed in the projector gate causing a fire that destroyed a portion of the bio-box
              and about 2000 feet of film.
              On Saturday, 4 July, 1959, the Alhambra showed its last film, "In Love and War"- an appropriate title, one wit
              noted, as both these activities were popular pastimes at the venue. Subsequently it became the Brunswick Ice
              Skating Rink (1964-66} and, more recently, an automotive tyre outlet.
              Although significant architecturally as an early example of a purpose-built cinema, it survived largely by show-
              ing "B" class American cowboy films and serials to a youthful population. Nevertheless many would agree that
              Percy Allen's choice of name was apt as the Alhambra proved to be a palace of dreams for countless picture-

              -Victorian Public Record Office, VPRS 7882/P1 Box 137
              -Advertisement, the Brunswick and Coburg Star, October23, 1914
              -Advertisement, The Brunswick and Coburg Leader, August 7, 1914
              -"Picture Theatres of Today: A Noteworthy Example", The Brunswick and Coburg Leader, November 13, 1914
              -"Picture Theatre Regulations - Board of Health's Laxity", The Age, March 1, 1919
              -Laurie Cunningham, "Frame by Frame- A History of Brunswick's Picture Theatres", 1995, Brunswick Community History Group

              Prahran Mechanics Institute                                         140 High Street, Windsor

              Glaswegian  Quaker  George  Birbeck started  the  mechanics institute  movement in  Britain  in the early  19th
              century, offering free lectures to improve the prospects of working men.  In those days, the word "mechanic"
              referred generally to any craftsman or a working man. Birbeck's concept quickly gained ground throughout the

              This building was constructed in  1915, replacing Prahran's first mechanics  institute, erected in Chapel Street
              in  1856 among  swampland  and hamlets.  In the  1850's, Victoria  had three such  institutes, designed for the
              "moral and mental improvement" of workers, shopkeepers and professionals through education classes, lei-
              sure activities and a library. By 1892, the number of mechanics  institutes in Victoria had swelled to 400; by
              1929 there were 600. But then the Depression struck and it was the beginning of the end. Today, Footscray and
             Prahran (part of Swinburne Institute ofTechnology} are the only suburban mechanics institutes still in business.
             At Prahran, the institute now exists solely as a library specialising in historical works - but every now and then
              an interested but misguided person rings up seeking guidance on the finer points of car maintenance.

              Reprinted from  The  Melbourne Weekly- 10/6/97

                           Fund Raising Auction - Cameras and Photographica
                                   Conducted by the Melbourne 8mm Movie Club

                                Saturday 25th October. Viewing from 11  am - Auction at 2 pm
                                         Paton Memorial Uniting Church Hall
                                              958 Burke Road, Deepdene
                                Ph: 9882-6497 for information- To sell or Buy Goods
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