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875 Hay St West, Perth IN closed



875 Hay St West, Perth

Charles Sudholz was one of the earliest Perth exhibitors, but he must have been a rather difficult person to deal with, as indicated by his frequent changes of employment, sometimes after very public disagreements. He was connected with J.C.Williamson's Bio-Tableau in 1905-7 and set up with a partner in April 1907 at the Queen's Hall and the Midland Town Hall. In 1908 he became manager of King's Pictures, which opened King's Picture Gardens in December 1908 and screened at the Town Hall in the winter, but he parted company with them in 1909.

His next venture was management of the Star Amusement Co, which converted the Star Skating Rink in Hay St, at a cost of £2,000, ´transforming this Palatial Pleasure Resort into the best Open-Air Picture Palace in the Southern Hemisphere' (West Australian, 27 Nov.1909), and providing seating accommodation for four thousand patrons. Musical accompaniment for the silent films was provided by the Orpheus Orchestra of twenty professional performers, and the promise was made that ´All patrons, no matter what part, will be accommodated with a backed seat giving a clear view of the aluminium screen' (West Australian, 29 Nov.1909).

A feature of the first season, which opened on 4 December 1909, was the AUXETOPHONOSCOPE, an early attempt at synchronising sound and image. This was not altogether successful:

The new machine did not create a very favourable impression for it was difficult to associate the singing with the pictures. After the interval, however, an impediment was removed and indeed there was a perceptible improvement. A chorus from the second act of ´Boccaccio' went exceedingly well. (West Australian, 4 Dec.1909)
No attempt was made to make this a permanent feature of the programme, however, probably because of the limited number of films available with appropriate recorded sound, and the machine finished its part of the season three weeks later, on 22 December 1909.

Soon after, Sudholz opened the Olympia, Fremantle, which was also a converted skating rink: his management of the Star Pavilion, however, did not survive the first season. From 7 January 1910 the owners of the Perth rink resumed management of the picture show, and kept it going till 21 February, when the building reverted to skating once more.

In October 1910, Vic's Pictures began their rise to prominence in the West Australian film scene, opening at Fremantle Town Hall. When the Star Skating Rink re-opened with films on 3 December 1910, it was under their management, through Victor Newton. Cozens Spencer provided the films for the enterprise, so, typically, the opening programme included the Australian production The Life and Adventures of John Vane the Notorious Bushranger. Vic's continued to feature the orchestra, and were able to claim during the controversy with theatre musicians which erupted during that season, that theirs was ´the only UNION orchestra in Perth' (West Australian, 11 Jan.1911). They also introduced structural improvements, including a ´Summer Parallel Sliding Roof' (West Australian, 3 Dec.1910). I have been unable to find a description of the premises, but as it was advertised as ´open air' long before the innovation of the sliding roof, it appears that it may have been one of those structures which became popular in the eastern states also, with a permanent roof, but removable panels on the walls, providing adjustable access to the fresh air.

In any case, when the second season ended on 31 March 1911, the traditional end to the summer entertainments season, the site reverted once again to a skating rink. It was apparently not used for films over the next summer, but opened briefly in December 1912 as Salter's Photoplays, which were also operating at the Olympia Rink in Fremantle.

In Melbourne and Sydney, the Tivoli Theatres held a pivotal place in the entertainment scene: not so in Perth, where the Tivoli was the Tivoli Skating Rink, the old Star Rink renamed. Veteran film publicist, Norman Cunningham, remembers it thus:

Further along Hay St was the Tivoli skating rink. Newman House now stands there. The rink went right through to St George's Terrace and I remember watching a lumper's rally there during a strike and hearing the strains of Glory Hallelujah to the words ´We'll hang old Colebatch to a sour apple tree' - times haven't changed much. (West Australian, 4 Sept.1980)

On Saturday, 15 March 1913, the Tivoli once again began functioning as a theatre, with a season of Rickards' Vaudeville and West's Pictures - a combination already presented at the Palace Gardens and the Melrose Theatre.

For some time past a small army of workmen has been engaged in converting the Star Rink into a theatre, and to the large audience which attended the new place of amusement on Saturday night to witness the formal opening, it was plainly seen that success had attended the effort. A handy-sized stage, with all the customary appurtenances necessary for a theatrical production, has been erected opposite the entrance from Hay St, while the walls of the old rink have been covered with brightly-painted scenes or toned down with the aid of lattice. A plentiful supply of greenery leant a pleasing touch. Shortly after 8 o'clock, long before which scores of people had to be turned away from the building, which will accommodate a very large audience, Mr W. Kingsmill, M.L.C., appeared on the stage, and, in a brief speech, formally declared the Tivoli Theatre open for the gratification and pleasure of the citizens. (West Australian, 17 March 1913)

But the Tivoli was not as firmly connected with films as its predecessor had been. In August 1913 it re-opened under new management, and in October faded out again. In December, Rickards' vaudeville re-appeared, but without films, and from then on, till its closure in 1915, few films were screened there. It became first a dance hall, then a motor garage.

(This venue is not to be confused with the Shaftesbury/Luxor, which was called the Tivoli in the forties)

Perth City Council Building Records
Post Office Directory, 1910 - 1940/41
West Australian, 1909 - 1949 (17 March 1913)