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          the  all-purpose public  halls  that inevitably came to represent   like  the present day Hea lesvi lle  Cinema). To  the  north  of
          civilization  in  each small settlement.  Whether Community Hall,   Ringwood.  on  the Yarra  River,  was  Warrandyre  with  an
          Progress Hall, PubJjc  HaJJ  or Memorial  Hall  these ubiquitous   occasional cinema in the Mechanics Institute.
          timber and  fibro  structures  served their fledgling communities as
                                                                 A  small Public Hall  ran  films  intermittently at  Ringwood East
          a  venue for everything from  dances and  political  ra!Jies  to
                                                                 while, to  the south,  there  was the  Bayswater Public HaU  and,  in
          meetings of the Country Womens Association or the Returned
                                                                 Boronia, the  Progress Hall  was  the frrst cinema.  Upper Pemtree
          Servicemens League.  Even where there was precious  little  in  the
                                                                 Gully  had  the Loyalty. a  more substantial cinema (now home to
          way of population (like East  Burwood or Montrose)  there would
                                                                 the 18 12 Theatre Company).
          still be a hall to serve the local community.
                                                                 Croydon  too had  a more imposing hall tl1at  ran  films right up to
          Architectural  refinements  were rarely  a  consideration  in  the   the 1970s before the coming of the Croydon Twin Cinemas.
          design  of public halls  like  these.  A  rectangular box-shaped
          building of weatherboard and  plaster,  iron-roofed.  usually with a   Beyond these eastern fringes  of suburbia you  would, at  various
          stage  to encourage  local  thespians  or to  serve as  a  platform for   times,  have encountered  country  cinemas,  ranging  from
          local dignitaries or aspi.ring political movers and shakers.   Healesville and  Warburton  to  Montrose, the Basin, Olinda,
                                                                 Upwey,  the Cameo at Belgrave and  Lilydale's  Athenaeum
          If the  movies  were rated  high on the  list of priorities a  separate   Theatre.  AU  tl1e  latter halls still stand, save  Upwey's,  which  bas
          projection  box  might  be provided, accessed  by an  internal  stair   been engulfed  by commercial  development.  After this quick
          from  the foyer or by an extemal ladder or stairway (especially if   Cook's Tour of cinemas let's return  to our starting point beyond
          film  shows had  been  an  after-thought  in  the construction of the   Box Hill.
          hall). Tn  fact,  where films had come later (or were seen as having
          a  low  priority)  the  projection  box  might be  no more than  a   The Regal, Blackburn
          structure on sti lts  inside at the rear of the hall or a box appended
          to the outside wall on struts!  The screen could either be a  white-  This is  one of the  now-vanished ones. It  was essentially  a  small
          painted  wall  at the back of rhe stage or a  roll-down  type screen
          flown from  above the stage.
          Decorative touches were rare or non-existent, apatt from, perhaps,
          a  portrait of the  ruling monarch and  a  Union  Jack gracing  one
          wall.  Seating was of the  removable kind:  often  rows  of fold-up
          wooden  seats on battens  that could  be  pushed  against  the side
          walls when the regular dance occurred. Wooden floors.  bare walls
          and  ceiling,  the only  touch  of glamour the stage curtains. most
          often in  traditional maroon colour.
          Acoustics were generally appalling, especially for fthn shows as I
          can personally testify after attempting to screen  films in a number
          of the  halls  and  obtain  acceptable sound quality!  But  what did
                                                                 and  basic  timber ball  rhat  stOod  on  the southern  side of the
          these early movie audiences care, anyway? Movies were too big a
                                                                 railway crossing on  the comer of Blackburn and  Central  Roads.
          drawcard  to  worry  about a  trifle like quality  sound?  Earlier.  if it
                                                                 Today,  the  Blackburn  Library occupies  the site.  It still  surprises
          had  been a  silent film  show,  the only accompaniment would
                                                                 that  such  a  primitive 35mm hall  as  the Regal  (originally merely
          probably have been an out-of-key piano!
                                                                 known as the Public Hall) was still operating in  1965.
          The Halls of the Outer East                            My last visit had been in  February of 1965 to see a double of The
          Let"s rake an imaginary  visic  to those cinemas or halls  that were   Ladyki l lers  with  Denver and  Rio Grande.  The  Regal  was
          still showing films around about  1950.                demolished the same year.
                                                                 Although  the  Blackburn  Hall (as  it was generally known)  was
          Moving east from the relative civilization of Box Hill with its two
                                                                 bare and  basic,  its  projection standards  were high.  Jt  seated 200.
          conventional  cinemas,  the  Regent  and  the  Rialto,  the  first
                                                                 ln its heyday it had been operated by R.H. Toll who also operated
          settlement you reached was Blackburn.
                                                                 a mini cinema in  Blackburn known as The Preview which seated
          Here you were back to the most basic of public halls for the Regal   14. The precise location of this mini cinema I  have not  been able
          (as it  was named  in later years). While to the south of Blackburn   ro establish (unless it was an ame-room in  the Blackburn Hall!).
          you  reached  the region of East Bm·wood.  with  its  East  Burwood
                                                                 The Blackburn  Hall  was  built  in  1888  but  wasn't opened  as  a
          Public  Hall.  Further south  again  was Glen  Waverley  with  a
                                                                 picrure theatre until  1929.  As the then  local  newspaper. The Bo>-.
          Public Hall for cinema.
                                                                 Hill Reporter, reported in February of 1929:
          To the  north  of Blackburn.  the Athenaeum served  the  Doncaster
                                                                 ·Blackburn  is  to  make another step forward  in  her march  of
          area and  a Memorial  Hall  was Tcmplestowe"s  venue.  Travelling
                                                                 progress on Wednesday - as on that date motion  pictures will be
          further east along Whitehoa·se  Road  the  next  port of call  was
                                                                 shown  in  the  Blackburn  Hall.  and  on  every  Wednesday  and
          Tunstall  (now  Nunawading)  with  a  small  Public Hall cinema
                                                                 certain  Saturdays  hereafter.  A  special  programme  has  been
          alongside the railway crossing on Springvale Road.
                                                                 arranged  for  the  opening  night.  featuring  Jack  Holt  and  Dorothy
          A couple of kilometres  funher out  along  Whitehorse  Road  was   Revier in  the  ""Tigress'"  and  a  Warner special  '"A  Race  for  Life"'
          Mitcham. The Memorial  Hall  was a bare and  basic hall  taned  up   featuring  Rin-Tin-Tin.  the  wonder dog of the screen.  A  special
          with  marble  pillars each side of the  entrance ..  Beyond  Mitcham.   anraction  will  be the showing of a  film  taken  at  Lhe  recent
          nothing until Ringwood. Here the cinema occupied a hall attached   Blackburn  Carnival and  parems  will  also  be interested  in  a  film
          to  the  municipal  offices:  the Town  Hall  cinema.  At  least this   taken  of the local  school  children at  work and  play.  Prices of
          substantial  building  gave  movie-going a  little more class  (rather   admission  will  be one shilling [ten  cents]  and  one and  sixpence
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