AMMPT Logo spacer cinemaweb
WA CinemaWeb search spacer about spacer acknowledgements spacer comments spacer corrections spacer links spacer spacer



details_name details_othernames details_town


details_address.gif details_type.gif details_active.gif
126 York St, Albany IN closed


126 York St, Albany

Photograph of cinema

Empire Pictures began screening regularly at the Princess Pavilion in 1906, another venue which was also used as a skating rink. In 1911, West's (managed in Perth by Thomas Coombe) announced their intention to build on this site the state's first purpose-built cinema in a rural area - the Empire, Albany:
It is the intention of West's Picture Co. to proceed to erect on the site a fine picture palace, with suitable refreshment stalls and winter garden for ladies at a cost of £5,000. The building will have a spacious dress circle, and, with the ground floor, will accommodate over 1,000 people. The construction will be on the latest American principle, having large windows all round which can be opened on hot nights... The whole of the materials, with the exception of the red leather tip-up chairs, will be bought in Albany. It is West's intention to show every night in the summer and probably three nights a week in the winter. (Albany Advertiser 30 August 1911)

The Empire theatre was designed by Tom Anthoness and built by Ashman and Warner. It opened on 31 October 1912, in York St, next to the Empire Building on the north-east corner of the intersection of York St and Stirling Terrace, screening six nights a week (not on Wednesday) and a Saturday matinee for children, with three changes of programme each week. The first manager was Mr Merrick and from September 1913 it was F. Clarke-Cottrell, director of Empire Pictures in Perth. The first pianist was Mr Duncan. At some stage, possibly when the returned servicemen took over the Town Hall, King's Pictures transferred here. In 1918, when the competition at the Town Hall was advertising that the business was run by ex-servicemen, the Empire proclaimed that they were ´the only theatre in Albany where the OPERATOR (Mr Frank McDonald) is a returned soldier' (Albany Advertiser 28 December 1918).

H.E.Lambert bought the picture lease from King's in 1919, and operated there as well as at the Town Hall in the early twenties. At that time, the theatre held 780 seats. But Lambert’s problems of insecurity of tenure at both venues convinced him to build the Regent, which opened in 1925. Soon after this, the owners of the Empire (Drew, Robinson and Co) leased the building to Harry Wiley, and at the end of his lease in October 1927 they announced plans to renovate the theatre. The renovations were designed by architect Harry Jefferis, built by Harry Wiley and the building was re-opened on 26 July 1928, leased to H. E. Folkard. The local community was proud of the result, and particularly grateful that it produced work for local people at the height of the depression:
The interior of the theatre has indeed taken on a new appearance. A greatly increased dress circle is a feature of the scheme. This is fitted with tip-up chairs, upholstered in leather, and the maximum of comfort is afforded patrons by their arrangement.
In like manner has the body of the theatre been treated, new seats of similar design replacing the old order. These are so ranged as to afford every person an uninterrupted view of the screenings.
The chairs are the products of the factory of Hearn Bros and Stead, of Victoria Park, Perth. It is thus noteworthy that they were made by white labor in our own State - a principle worthy of emulation in every direction possible.
Particularly restful and pleasing to the eye is the color scheme and decorative effect achieved, this being on a par with the latest work carried out in Perth and at other important centres. M.E.Rew has eclipsed all past efforts in this direction and both he and his co-worker (Mr Chopping) have indeed bestowed of their best in an artistic sense. The electric fittings, furnished and installed by Mr W.Johns, of Albany, give added beauty.
Mr H.E.Folkard, the lessee of the theatre, is now in possession of an entertainment house worthy to rank with those of much larger centres than Albany. (Albany Advertiser, 26 July 1928)

Soon after this renovation, Lambert won the lease back again and by the end of the decade was screening in all three venues (Regent, Empire and Town Hall), till in 1933 Drew Robinson leased the Empire picture rights to H.F.Kanzler, who retained them from then on.

During World War 2, the Empire was listed as having 400 seats, and after the war Kanzlers' Albany theatres were managed by Ron Crisp. The cinema interests of H.F.Kanzler were taken over on his death by a public company known as Albany Pictures, which from 1954 ran the Empire, the Regent, and the Middleton Beach Hall, and later built the Orana and the Boronia drive-ins. When a third drive-in was opened in competition, Albany Pictures decided to rationalise - they did not renew the lease of the Empire when it expired in June 1965 and closed the cinema in October 1965. It was later used as a skating rink, a youth amusement centre, a live theatre, and most recently a nightclub.

Film Weekly Directory 1940/41 - 1964/5
Building plans and tender documents, dated December 1930 - held by Albany Historical Society
Post Office Directory , 1921, 1924-1949
Max Bell, Kino, no.13, September 1985, p.14
Max Bell, Perth - a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lews, Sussex, 1986, p.99, 109
Albany Advertiser, 26 October 1912, 30 October 1912, 2 November 1912, 28 December 1918, 26 July 1928, 1 October 1965
Everyone's, 23 October 1929, pp.18-19
Film Weekly, 11 November 1965, p.3
Interviews (Colleen Pead): Ron Crisp (1986), Ron Woods (1986)
Interviews (Ina Bertrand): Len Lambert (1997), Colin Langley (1997)

2 1 exterior, approx 1900 (site of Princess Pavilion), b&w, Albany Public Library, Local History Collection
2 exterior, 1978, colour (Bill Turner) Link to image
4 exterior, 1985, colour (Robert Newton) Link to image Link to image