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          Nunawading Hall Cinema                                 The Open Air Cinema  was  a  temporary stop-gap  measure, of
                                                                 course, and by  1925 plans had be.en drawn up for the construction
                                                                 of a Memorial Hall on the site. This was opened in 1926.
                                                                 The Memorial Hall, Mitcham

          If you buy your liquor at a well-known store on Springvale Road
          next to  the  railway  crossing  you  will  be visiting  the old cinema
          that once operated  at Tunstall  (later renamed Nunawading).
                                                                 For years  a  memorial  to  the fallen  stood  outside the hall.  For a
          Today, the only give-away  is  the  old  i.ron  roof profile visible
                                                                 simple wooden and plaster building it was graced by a distinctive
          when viewed at a distance.
                                                                 and  attractive front elevation with  pillars set each side of the
          Before modernization  of the  liquor store  in  the  1980s the   entrance in  the classical style.  You entered  a tiny foyer with  the
          projection  ports  and  origina 1 fancy  pressed  metal  ceilings  were   ticket box window in the wall.
          clearly  observed. The biobox  was constructed  as  a  sort of
                                                                 Seating was of the portable type with  a nominal capacity of 325.
          mezzanine  at the back of the hall  by  lowering  the ceiling at the
          foyer to provide sufficient ro<>m above for the box. A refreshment   The hall  had  a  fairly  unassum ing  interior and stage  while the
                                                                 projection box was essentially a structure on stilts at the rear, built
          area was provided  at the  side which  has now  been  incorporated
                                                                 back  into the  wall  and  protruding slightly above the entrance
          into  the area once used  for  the cinema. It was quite a small  hall
                                                                 below.  A simple vertical  ladder led  up to the  bio  box  from the
          and  one assumes  could  not  have seated much  more than  a
                                                                 back of the auditorium.
          hundred  or so people.  One has  to  remember that Tunstall  was,
          even  in  the  1920s,  a busy a:rea  because of the large complex  of   The Memorial Hall operated first as  a silent cinema, but in June
          potteries and  brickworks  that  were  operating along the  railway   1931  the talkies came.  Regular film  shows were  finished  by the
          just east of the station.                              start of the  1960s, the  last operator being described as  Mitcham
                                                                 Pictures Pry Ltd ... However, films continued to be shown right up
          Soldiers Memorial Open Air                             until  the demolition  of the  Memorial  HaJJ  as  it was the home of
          Cinema Mitcham                                         the Blackburn and Mitcham Film Society who screened on 16mm.
                                                                 I  remember screening films  myself from  the  box  on  several
          Public meetings were urging a hall  to be buiJt at Mitcham for the   occasions at the end  of the  1960s. Despite considerable public
          Returned Services League. Fund-raising activities were conducted   outcry the Memorial Hall was demolished by the Council in 1988
          over the next  few years and  by  1921  land had been purchased on
                                                                 to make way for a "commercial development" which took a long
          the comer of Whitehorse Road and McDowell Street. Because of
                                                                 time in coming. Many local arts groups lost their only affordable
          the universal popularity of movies, the League decided to create,   home with the passing of the ball.
          initially,  an  open  air cinema on  the block of land.  In a pamphlet
          published in 1968  the League recalls the Open  Air Cinema  that   Town Hall Cinema, Ringwood
          started life in  1921:
          ' A  working bee erected  a  fence  around  the block.  A wooden
          screen  was  erected  and  seats were  made  to  accommodate 400
          persons excluding  the  pianist.  Carpenters  and  labour were
          supplied by Ausr. Tesselated Tile Co.  Prior to each screening the
          Committee had ro spend hours in erecting hessian screens on the
          wires  around  the  top of the  6ft.  [ 1.8  metre]  picket  fence ... Then
          we had to contend with the full moon rising in the east and pitting
          its light against the picture beam. There was no automatic switch-
          over from  one machine to  the other in  those days,  and  the
          audience had to wait whilst the reels were changed'.
          Recollections of audience members, recorded by the Nunawading
          Historical  Society,  recall  that  the  open  air c inema  was
          understandably chilly on cold nights (Mitcham has its own special
          brand  of unpredictable weather!)  but a  great crowd pleaser.
          Young  boys  would  climb trees  for a  free view  and  child
                                                                 Picture-going in Ringwood was a classier affair as movies shared
          admissions were 3d (three cents) or free if you sneaked in through
          the rear lavatories!                                   the substantial Town Hall  on  Whitehorse  Road  almost opposite
                                                                 the railway station entrance.

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