Page 14 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2002 #37
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                                                    By Frank Van Straten
                                                    By Frank Van Straten
            When Mrs Elaine Marriner commissioned me to write a history of the Regent
          Theatre Melbourne, I decided to find out something about the architect, Cedric H.
          Ballantyne. To my surprise though much has been published about Ballantyne’s

          theatre designs, there was no detailed overview of his life and career.

            Because of space limitations, the piece I prepared for the book had to be
          truncated, but here it is in its original form, updated and expanded. I have not
          provided descriptions of Ballantyne’s projects, as much of this information is

          already available. Instead, this is an account of the long, varied and productive
          career of the man responsible for many of this country’s finest cinemas.

             clectic, expansive, fun. These     Ballantyne was the only successful  At first, following Oakden’s death,
         Ewords describe Melbourne’s         candidate in the first Royal Institute of  Ballantyne continued the practice
          mighty Regent Theatre; they apply  British Architects’ examinations in  alone. He designed churches, offices,
          equally to Cedric Heise Ballantyne, the  1902. Six years later he became a  shops and, from 1910, private homes.
          man who designed it.               Fellow of the Royal Victorian Institute  From 1921 to 1926 he worked in
          BEGINNINGS                         of Architects. In 1906 Ballantyne  partnership with engineer-architect
            Cedric Ballantyne was born on 31  married Ruby Bell. They had one   Henry Hare, and alone again until
          May 1876 at Prahran, Victoria, where  daughter, Elizabeth.            1933.
          his Scottish-born father managed a    With Percy Oakden, Ballantyne   ENTER FRANCIS W. THRING.
          bank. Cedric was educated at Kew   worked on a wide variety of buildings.  In 1920 Ballantyne built a
          High School and Sydney Church of   In 1908 they introduced to Melbourne  handsome house for himself at 534
          England Boys’ Grammar School       the Craftsman-influenced, single-  Toorak Road. After a short while he
          (‘Shore’). When he was 16 he was   ridged bungalow house. Typical     sold it to Francis W. Thring, a director
          articled to Percy Oakden, a senior  examples, of which only a few remain,  of Hoyts Theatres. ‘Rylands’ remained
          Melbourne architect. He worked as  featured eaves over-hanging to form  the Thring family home for sixty
          Oakden’s chief draughtsman until 1900  front and rear verandas, a dormer-  years; it has recently been demolished.
          when he was admitted to partnership  windowed attic and stained and oiled,  The Ballantynes and the Thrings
          and the firm became known as Oakden  rather than painted, weatherboards.  became close friends. Through Thring,
          and Ballantyne.                    The ‘Arts and Crafts’ interiors were  Ballantyne met Sir George Tallis.
                                             integral to the style of the buildings.
                                                                                Tallis was involved in Hoyts and was
                                                One of the partnership’s most
                                                                                also chairman of the mighty J.C.
                                             notable achievements was the four-
                                                                                Williamson theatrical organisation.
                                             storey ‘Arts and Crafts’ red brick and
                                                                                The Tallis family lived in ‘Grosvenor’,
                                             stone building for the New Zealand
                                                                                a stately two-storey Victorian mansion
                                             Loan & Mercantile Agency Building
                                                                                on the corner of Glenferrie and Toorak
                                             (1910). Now the headquarters of Primus
                                                                                Roads, Toorak. In 1926 Tallis engaged
                                             Telecom, it still stands proudly at 538-
                                                                                Ballanytne to drastically ‘modernise’
                                             544 Collins Street, on the King Street
                                                                                the property inside and out.
                                             corner. The partners were contracted to
                                                                                ‘Grosvenor’ was demolished in 1936
                                             the Melbourne and Metropolitan Fire
                                                                                and its extensive grounds were
                                             Brigade and designed dozens of fire
                                                                                subdivided for development.
                                             stations in the city and suburbs. This
                                                                                   Though somewhat temperamental,
                                             association survived Oakden’s death in
                                                                                Ballantyne was generally ebullient and
                                             1917 and continued until 1937.
                                                                                effervescent. He loved good food and
                                             Particularly notable was the fire station
                                                                                good company. He and Thring
                                             at 66-68 William Street, Hawthorn
                                                                                numbered Norman Lindsay and his
                                             (1910); the building now serves as the
                                                                                entourage among their close friends.
                                             Swinburne University of Technology’s
                                                                                Ballantyne was a member of the Lawn
                                             security offices.
          Mr and Mrs Ballantyne                                                 Tennis Association and in 1923
          14  2002 CINEMARECORD
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