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somewhat dumbfounded Mr Eric Yeomans was presented, to
          the unrestrained merriment of the audience, a bouquet of flow-
          ers, compliments of the Universal Film Company.
            The Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Mr Morice
          Collier. For the first week, Miss Sylvia McLeod was specially
          engaged, on secondment from the Auditorium (Metro) Collins
          Street, to perform Ave Maria as a prologue.
            The identity of the inaugural  Westgarth  Theatre projec-
          tionist is uncertain. The earliest documented reference, dated
          12 November 1924, names Mr J Sompereau as projectionist.
          Former employee, Mr Jack Nicholls, recalled that Jack
          Sompereau and Bill Horan, like John Seccull, were residents
          of Barry Street. Mr Nicholls was also able to confirm the pres-
          ence of Jack Sompereau as projectonist in 1922. The follow-
          ing list of employees and their positions in 1922 was kindly
          provided by him:                                    Decorative plaster work and concealed lighting form an
                                                              elaborate proscenium.
          Ushers:       Mr Gordon Cleeland and Mr Fred Hocking  Photo: Kevin Adams.
          Ticket Sellers:  Mrs Jo Coxhead and Mr Ted Baggott
          Cleaners:     Mrs Lomas, Mr Eddie Foster and later  uitous public health inspectors of the time were not oblivious
                        Mr Jack Nicholls.                     to the gala opening either.
                                                                 The application to register the Westgarth Theatre as a pub-
            According to Mr Nicholls, Mr Horan was never too proud  lic building was dated 22 June 1922, eight months subsequent
          to serve as ‘unofficial baby minder’ during evening sessions.  to its opening!
          Mr Horan’s daughter, Alma, would later marry future manag-
          er of the Westgarth Theatre, Mr Jack Baggott.       The Roaring Twenties
            Mr Nicholls commenced his cleaning duties at the age of  From the early 1920s, films were secreened by Mr W E and
          13 and became Bio Assistant at the age of 15. He left the  Mr W H Edmonds at the Preston Shire Hall on High Street.
          Westgarth in 1928 and followed Son Yeomans to his other  The success of this venture encouraged them to create the Star
          venues, the Broadway (Elwood), the Grand (Footscray) and  Theatre in High Street, Preston, opposite the  Town Hall.
          the Sun (Yarraville). Mr Nicholls recalled that Son Yeomans  Screening commenced at the Star on Thursday 28 September
          regularly frequented the Greenroom Club. Mr Nicholls  1922 with The Mark of Zorro starring Douglas Fairbanks.
          described Yeomans as a “terrific bloke” whose chain-smoking  A memorable early screening at the Westgarth Theatre was
          inevitably lead to his demise.                      the movie  Blood and Sand starring Rudolph  Valentino in
            Prices for the opening night, also for Saturdays and  January 1923. Geo Dummett appeared live to sing the
          Holidays were: Circle 2/2, Stalls 10d. Weeknight prices were:  Torreador Song from Carmen and You Gave Me Your Heart,
          Front Circle 2/-, Back Circle 1/6, Stalls 10d, Children 4d. A  the latter specially written for Blood and Sand.
          box plan of the theatre was maintained at Mr Yeomans’ near-  In a 1924 interview with Everyones, Mr Yeomans stated
          by shop. Fox, Metro and Paramount films would all be shown  that good pictures and pleasing music had proved a more
          at the Westgarth.                                   potent force than vaudeville or other live entertainment at the
            On a less auspicious note, the Public Health Department  Westgarth during its early years. Westgarth’s musical director,
          promptly served notice of required improvements to be com-  Professor Jonathon Morton, was praised by Mr Yeomans for
          plied with by 5 November 1921 in order to avoid prosecution.  his contribution. However, Mr Yeomans did cite two notewor-
          This was followed by further requests concerning ventilation  thy exceptions to this general rule. The live appearance one
          to be implemented by 30 December 1921. Obviously the ubiq-  Saturday evening of one Melbourne’s first beauty contest win-
                                                              ners, Mrs  Tyrrel, saw hundreds of disappointed spectators
          Cinemeccanica projectors with Strong Xenon lamphouses  turned away from a full Westgarth Theatre. Subsequent to this,
          are currently used. Photo: Adrian Maiolla.          Baby Pat, the Empire Baby Winner also proved a great draw-
                                                                 Mr Yeomans was a great proponent of advertising. Lobby
                                                              displays at the Westgarth were frequently arranged. Several
                                                              twenty-four sheet boards throughout the locality and Mr
                                                              Yeomans’ own house organ were also utilised as promotional
                                                                 Cinema was thriving. The bar was again raised with the
                                                              opening of the Thornbury Regent on 1 August 1925. The old
                                                              Thornbury Theatre was altered to become a business premis-
                                                              es. Mr  Yeomans pleaded guilty to overcrowding of the
                                                              Westgarth on 25 November 1925 when patrons were found
                                                              standing in the rear cross aisle of the stalls and more than thir-
                                                              ty were seated in portable chairs during the final screening of
                                                              the Australian film Jewelled Nights. A contrite Mr Yeomans
                                                              explained “hundreds were turned away and in a moment of

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