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dow, while each uppermost win-
          dow is surmounted by an arched
          hood-mould. Similar to the near-
          by Northcote Theatre, the theatre
          name is presented in raised letter-
          ing on a smooth, rendered frieze.
          Above this, a denticulated cor-
          nice separates the main horizon-
          tal section of the facade from a
          decorative parapet.  The parapet
          contains a segmental arched cen-
          tre which displays a large shield-
          like medallion. Today this medal-
          lion is largely obscured by an
          added vertical sign.  Alongside
          the parapet arch, the side sections
          continue the balustrade theme
          depicted by the balconettes.
            Two shops bordered the
          38ft wide  Westgarth  Theatre
          entrance. Jack Nicholls remem-
          bers the north-end shop as a
          sweet shop and the south-end
          shop as a ladies clothing store.  Looking towards the screen from the upstairs entrance to the auditorium.
          The original door was in the  Photo: Adrian Maiolla.
          nature of a folding gate.  The
          vestibule consisted of a tiled mosaic floor, no fewer than 38  trical failure. Two large electrical fans were on site to augment
          lights, an ornamental ceiling, a soda fountain, a ticket box and  ventilation when required.
          a broad central stairway in marble mosaic.             Seating consisted of comfortably padded, automatic lifting
            The Westgarth auditorium was illuminated by 15 x 300  seats and a handsomely furnished lounge. The building regis-
          candle power veiled lanterns in the ceiling and from port holes  tration application denotes 921 stall seats and 523 circle seats.
          in the walls, through blue coverings from which patrons could  Westgarth was designed with a sloping floor. Two simplex
          imagine they were looking out to sea. The effect of the audi-  biographe machines were located at the rear of the stalls to
          torium was said to be suggestive of the temples of the Orient.  project films upon a pure white wall at the back of the stage
          The ornate, vaulted ceiling and other decorative works were  beneath an ornate, plaster proscenium.
          contributed by a Mr Strickland and the intriguingly titled
          Plastic Art Company. Johnston and McMullan of Thornbury  A Gala Opening
          were responsible for the electrical work. A petrol-driven ‘uni-  Following some delays due to labour problems, and amidst
          versal set’ was installed to provide light in the event of elec-  bubbling anticipation, the  Westgarth Picture  Theatre com-
                                                                                   menced screening on  Thursday 20
                                                                                   October 1921.  The opening night
                                                                                   program included  Mother Heart
                                                                                   starring Shirley Mason and the main
                                                                                   feature, Ann of Green Gables, in
                                                                                   which the lead was played by Mary
                                                                                   Miles Minter.
                                                                                     The evening was described by
                                                                                   the Northcote Leader as “a com-
                                                                                   pletely successful official opening.”
                                                                                   The Westgarth Theatre, it contend-
                                                                                   ed, “seemed to give new importance
                                                                                   to the neighbourhood.” A full house
                                                                                   witnessed the official opening cere-
                                                                                   mony during which Mr Sam Dennis
                                                                                   declared the theatre open. Builder,
                                                                                   Mr John Seccull was enthusiastical-
                                                                                   ly applauded by the audience, and a

                                                                                   The second bio box at the rear of
                                                                                   the dress circle. The projectors
                                                                                   were originally located at the
                                                                                   back of the stalls.
                                                                                   Photo: Kevin Adams.

          12  Autumn  2001 CINEMARECORD
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