Page 9 - CinemaRecord #11R.pdf
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41.  On Tour- The Radio Cinema Barcaldine                                 by John Poulianakis

            As a young drifter in the 1950's, or earlier during a stint in the carnival game, I came across many country town
            cinemas.  From Texas  (Qid)  to Queanbeyan, from  the Civic in  Canberra  to Temora  and  Wagga  and Albury,
            picture theatres were everywhere. Thanks to Julie Bradley I was able to gather the following information.

            The Radio Cinema in Barcaldine (pronounced  Bar-call-dun, and  don't let the locals catch you saying it any
            other way) was one of the very few hardtop cinemas in that part of Queensland. Most were open-air because
            of the intense  heat.  Built by David  Stibbards and  owned  at the  time  by Dobbie and  Solley the  music was
            provided by Lewis Vale, a local pianist. Opened on April 1Oth 1926, the floor of the Radio consisted of dirt and
            gravel for many years. The structure is galvanised iron, and is a curved shape similar to some early aircraft
            hangars.  The name of the cinema is believed to have come from a young lady called Sybil Spanner, who lived
            in Brixton, 25 miles away, and cycled to Barcaldine to see movies on her Malvern Star on the late 1920's. There
            was also an orchestra pit, but it was covered over.

            The Radio started with silent films such as "Stolen Triumph". Laurel and Hardy, silent serials and some Valentino
            movies usually packed the 550 seat house. Patrons even sat in the aisles when the "House Full" sign was put
            up. The equipment used was standard Western Electric, and the projector had its own generator for times of
            frequent power failure. RKO and Paramount films were shown exclusively and the Radio had a 135 feet throw,
            reputed to be the longest in Queensland.

            Around 1937 an advertising promoter named Harry Miller came to town with people dressed up as movie stars
            of the day, and local businesses decided to give free cinema passes to the children as part of an advertising
            promotion. The word went out that a mystery plane would be circling over Barcaldine. This eventually turned
            up and dropped free Saturday Arvo matinee passes in the main street. CinemaScope came in  1954 and the
            Radio was refloored in 1986 with a flat floor for indoor cricket. The cricket and the movies ran for some time,
            but with not much success. Nowdays the Radio is only used rarely, and sometimes only as a hall for functions.

            The editor of CinemaRecord has told me he spent three weeks in Barcaldine in 1966, staying at Lennon's hotel.
            This hotel was opposite the railway station and the main social events in  the town were going to the station
            three times a week to see who was on the train, going to the Radio cinema, or sitting in the pub.

            The first time he went to the Radio he was surprised to see people smoking. Why not. The floor was by then
            made of concrete and the walls were galvanised iron, so the only things to burn were the canvas seats. Beer
            stubbies exploding when dropped added to the mood. At interval everyone charged outside for more stubbies,
            or to see the man selling pies from an old "Andrew" cast iron stove, removed from someones kitchen, a wood
            fire burning in it, perched on the back of a utility that was backed up at right angles to the footpath .
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