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          Only later was the seating evidently reduced to a more comfortable number of around 700. As a stalls patron myself I found it
          cramped enough so Heaven help the clientele of the GRAND CENTRAL.  Conversion to a cinema had essentially involved
          cutting back the upstairs floor to create a dress circle; conversion of the downstairs laundry to back stalls and the addition of
          an extension to the length of the building to create a front stalls area, a stage and screen with an orchestra pit in front.
          During its eight years as a silent cinema, the GRAND CENTRAL underwent a name change to emerge as the PARAMOUNT
         Theatre in  1926.  For it was on  13 October, 1926 that Robert McLeish Theatres of Swanston Street, Melbourne declared they
          had taken qver operation of the former GRAND CENTRAL.  Amid muted trumpets they announced that their new acquisition
          would be the "home of Paramount and Realart Pictures".

         THE WARD ERA

          Robert Ward's father,  Robert Granville Ward (or "Bert") had  been  working at  the  Hoyts SOUTHERN in  Hampton as  a
          "projectionis~-<:um-manager-cum everything" as his son Robert describes him.  Bert Ward had seen that the PARAMOUNT in
          Middle Brighton was up for sale and he bought it.  The theatre was apparently "going cheap and was run-down".  At the age of
          twenty Bert Ward had taken over running his own cinema.  With the help of aunts and uncles he did it up and within a year or
          two it was doing "very well".  Bert renamed the theatre the PRINCE GEORGE,  after the second youngest son of King George
          V and Queen Mary,  later to become the Duke of Kent.  It was still, of course. a silent cinema but, with Bert's entrepreneurial
          vision, he made it the first suburban silent cinema to convert to the new marvel of talking pictures.  He's also credited with
          making it the first suburban house with central heating.  I can't personally attest to that because my brief involvement with the
          Prince George only brings back memories  of chilly  winter nights watching filins  in an inadequately-heated cinema!  Much
         more comfortable was the Dendy, just up the road, where Bert Ward had transferred his attentions in 1940.  The DENDY was,
          for me, a reaJ showcase cinema!


          But I  must return to the PRINCE GEORGE!  Let me take you on an imaginary visit to this illustrious "bughouse", with help
         also from  its manager, Robert Ward: The front doors in Church Street were double glass doors and each day you had a board
         that could be reversed so that when the doors were closed the cinema posters were turned to face the street. There wasn't a lot
         of area for showcases, as you'll see from  modem photographs, apart from  poster boards on the walls of the passageway (still
         visible today) and  space above your head  as  you  walked  inside the passageway.  The walls of the entrance walkway were
         painted a beige colour right through to the foyer, while the floor was composed of large flagstones.  Where the passageway
                                                       widened out at the ticket boxes the floor was covered with black and
                                                       white chequerboard tiles.  On each side was a  ticket box with  a
                                                       staircase to the circle also on each side. These stairs were constructed
                                                       of bluestone with a  railing of wrought  iron  lacework topped with  a
                                                       mahogany handrail.  If you  were a stalls patron (as I  was)  you
                                                       proceeded ahead  between the stairs to a  small carpeted foyer
                                                       decorated with several couches and posters on the walls. The theatre
                                                       doors  opened straight into the auditorium  around  the middle of the
                                                       theatre.  To the right was the back stalls, to the left, the front stalls.
                                                       Carpeted side aisles led down to the proscenium.  Originally the
                                                       proscenium had inner, angled panels with decorative plaster and rear-
                                                       illuminated  coloured  wax-paper  fretwork  inserts.  When
                                                       CinemaScope was  installed these panels were removed and the
                                                       screen extended almost to the edges of the proscenium.  Robert Ward
                                                       believes the  'scope screen  would  have been  about 35  feet in  width.
                                                       The ftrst CinemaScope ftlm  they screened  was Eartha Kitt  in NEW
                                                       FACES (a 1954 release).  Robert remembers this as being an
                                                       exclusive suburban release at the Prince George and  running for
                                                       some months".  It was also the first  film they ran  with  magnetic
         l liilil~:::::::::::= sound: they were the first suburban theatre to be able to play
                                                       magnetic tracks  with  CinemaScopc.  Magnetic sound went  into the
                                                       DENDY "some five years later" recalls  Robert.  My only vivid
                                                       memory of CinemaScope at  the Prince George was confined to a
                                                       trailer for some obscure "Coming Attraction": part of the image was
                                                       on the ceiling and quite a  lot around  the walls!  Robert says this
                                                       wasn't the usual  practice for  'scope! The projectionist must have

                                                       The entrance across Church Street

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