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The Theatres
                                                         The Theatres of of


                                               by PeterWolfenden

           The Picture-Shows of a South Australian Country town

            What’s in a name? What’s in the    The first documented moving        The paid advertisement placed by
          spelling of a name?               picture show in Narracoorte, took place  Wybert Reeve, Proprieter and Manager
            When researching material for an  in the newly constructed Institute Hall  of Adelaide’s Theatre Royal, claimed
          article, one often comes across quirky  in Smith Street where a Library and  that 30 Life Pictures will be shown on
          and sometimes fascinating side issues.  Reading Room were opened in  the evenings of 13th and 14th of July
          We have all noted theatre name    September 1876. A couple of months  1897 – including Royal Pageants to
          changes when a theatre moved from  later, the upstairs meeting hall was  celebrate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
          showing silent films to sound, or when  completed and this was the venue for  Quaintly, the advertisement also
          theatre ownership altered.        one of the earliest large events in the  advised that the show’s start would be
                                            town. (The original Institute, a small  delayed to 8.15pm to allow patrons
            This occurred in the case of the
                                            timber building, was located further  travelling by train from Wolseley to
          Narracoorte Austral when it changed
                                            along Smith Street, on the site of the  arrive in time for commencement of the
          to the Naracoorte Rivoli.                           (2)                   (3)
                                            present police station.)           show!
            Nothing really unusual here?
            A change of operators brought
          about the new theatre name. But note
          the spelling of the town’s name.
            Naracoorte started life as
          Narracoorte and it took many years for
          the new spelling to be accepted by all
          residents – especially the editor/owner
          of the Narracoorte Herald, the local
          newspaper! At some point in time,
          perhaps in the early 1900s, Government
          dropped one of the ‘r’s (maybe in the
          interest of the economy by saving ink!)  Above: Mechanics Institute in 1897.
          but the locals weren’t too enthusiastic,  Top: Naracoorte Austral. circa 1944.
          especially the Herald which rigorously  Right: Naracoorte Herald 9th July 1897.
          retained two ‘r’s until it was sold to
                                               The Narracoorte Herald advised
          James Thomson in 1948!
            So, out of respect for the Caldwell  … “the residents of the district have a
          Brothers of the Narracoorte Herald,  treat in store for them on Tuesday and
          who contributed greatly to the district, I  Wednesday evenings next when the
          will maintain the original spelling in  Lumiere Cinematographe will be
          this article up to the 1935 opening of  exhibited for the first time in
          the purpose-built Austral Picture  Narracoorte.”

          18  2010 CINEMARECORD
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