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North AND South..

                                                                          Drive-In mania strikes

                                                                           Twice in Dandenong!


                                   Formerly known as VILLAGE DANDENONG NORTH

           n Melbourne’s outer south-east,       by Bryan Power                   It is important to remember that this
         Ithe Village “Rowville” Drive-In                                      occurred in 1956, the year of the
          Theatre was the brainchild of Stewart                                Melbourne Olympics, because with the
          Finn whose father Jack was a man who                                 coming of the Games another
          had never been afraid to take on new                                 phenomenon was also about to be
          business opportunities.                                              launched – television – which would
                                                                               eventually have a severe impact on
            A visit to the new Village Croydon
                                                                               cinema attendances. However, in early
          Drive-In Theatre had impressed 22
                                                                               1956 the directors were confident of
          year-old Stewart and he was able to
                                                                               the future success of the Rowville
          persuade his father that the family’s
          thirty-acre property lying in a triangle
          between Stud and Bergins Roads would
                                                                                  This venue would in fact be the
          be an ideal site for such a venture.
                                                                               second drive-in to open in the area, as
            Stewart and Jack put their proposal
                                                                               the independent Dandenong
          to Bill Spencer, the managing director of
                                                                               “Panoramic” on the South Gippsland
          the Village Drive-Ins at Essendon and
                                                                               Highway at Dandenong South opened a
          Croydon, and he quickly recognized the
                                                                               few months earlier in May 1956.
          suitability of the location with its
                                                                                  For a time, confusion must have
          proximity to Dandenong and Ferntree
                                                                               been commonplace as the Stud Road
          Gully. A new company was established
                                                                               theatre actually opened and advertised
          and Jack and Stewart set about
          converting the pasture land to a properly  Above: Jack Finn was a bricklayer by  as “Village Dandenong” until it was
                                            trade who also started the first Service   finally renamed “Rowville” and the
          terraced site.
                                            Station in Rowville as well as the Caravan   Village company took on the operation
                                            Park and Rowville Tourist Motel.   of both theatres.
                                                                               Building the Theatre
                                                                                  While Stewart and Jack were busy
                                                                               at the site supervising the shaping of
                                                                               12,000 cubic yards of crushed rock and
                                                                               the laying of 20,000 yards of cables to
                                                                               the 720 individual speakers, the Village
                                                                               technicians were grappling with the
                                                                               problem of providing a better screen for
                                                                               their outdoor theatres.

                                                                               Left: W.Spencer, Sir George Knox,
                                                                               Jack and Stewart Finn inspect the
                                                                               café building prior to opening.

          10  2010 CINEMARECORD
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