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27.  ROTEXIWERE STREET THEATRE- MONTMORENCY                                     By Fred Page

             The original idea for establishing this theatre was generated by Rotary in 1975.  After conducting a feasibility
             study which confinned Rotary's conviction that there was little in the way of local entertainment, and that the
             local community would support the establishment of a cinema in the district, it was decided to proceed.

             Recognising the extent of the project, Eltham Rotary invited Eltham Apex to become a partner in the project.
             By August of the same year a management arrangement had been devised and a co-operative finance scheme
             approved. (Hence the name Rotex, derived from Rotary-Apex)

            The site for the theatre was a disused supermarket in Were St. Montmorency.  Note that this is the reverse of
            what happened to so many cinemas that became supermarkets and retail stores. The conversion was carried
            out by constructing a wall about one third of the way in from the left hand side ofthe building. This smaller area
             became the space for the foyer, toilets and candy/ticket counter. As the building was on the comer of a broad
            laneway an  entrance to the foyer was made on this facade and a porch built over the door.

            At the Were St. frontage a projection booth was constructed which, luckily, did not encroach onto the footpath
            as there was a paved area and small garden in front of the original building. The cladding of the extension was
            stained timber.  In  the remaining part of the building  luck was again wftfl the sponsor organisations as the
            structure was built on the "clearspan" principle thereby avoiding pillars to support the roof.  At the far end the
            screen was hung immediately in front of the rear wall and the floor left at its original level for about 10 tt (3
            metres).  At this point the supermarket floor was torn up and a new raked floor installed which sloped from its
            original level at the rear to about 3 ft (1  metre) below the stage level.

            The auditorium seated 200 and the predominant colour was various shades of purple.  This decor extended to
            curtains, drapes, carpets and seats.  The painted surfaces were in a cinnamon shade.  The overall effect was
            very pleasing and the architect, Mr. Les Clarke, won an  award for the conversion.

            From the idea of the cinema, the decision to proceed, the negotiations for a permit and the building work took:
            about 18 months and the theatre opened in August 1976. The enterprise was a commercial success and before
            its first year was completed the original projectors were replaced with the latest Toshiba projectors and new
            audio equipment.

            After several years as  a Rotary•Apex project the theatre was taken  over by  local commercial interests and
            renamed the Were St.  Theatre. The screening policy of the theatre was to show a mixture of  unusual  and
            mainstream films six nights a week with Saturday matinees and midweek matinees for organised groups for
            which catering was available.

            Due to the property boom of the late 1980's, the site was considered too valuable to remain as a theatre and
            was sold  at auction on  24th August, 1988 for $625,000.  The final screening was a few weeks later on  12th
            October. The purchasers of the property were unable to redevelop it and after laying idle for about 2 years, it
            was converted to a bingo hall by restoring the floor to the original level.  This venture has not been successful
            and in late 1994 the property was again for sale. The seats from the Rotex have been recovered and are now
            in the stalls area of the Carlton Moviehouse.

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