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131 James St, Guildford IN closed



131 James St, Guildford

Photograph of cinema

Regent Open Air Pictures opened in the twenties beside the Vaudeville Theatre: taking into account the buildings that were already there, this may have been either at the rear of the theatre (facing onto Meadow St, where the hotel car park now is), or between the hotel and the theatre (on James St, where a narrow garden now is).

In 1927 when the Vaudeville was closed, the owner (George Hall) built the Regent Theatre, designed by Rosenthal, further along the street, near the south-west corner of Johnson St, and continued to operate the gardens in conjunction with the new hard-top. The latter was a simple building, with a balcony accessed from stairs on either side of the ground floor foyer. Margaret Tanner remembers that upstairs seats were more expensive and more prestigious, but, as she never sat downstairs, does not know whether they were any more comfortable than the stalls. Australtone sound equipment was installed in 1929. In 1937, the business was taken over, as was Bassendean Town Hall and Gardens, by Greater X-L Tone Amusements. The theatre held 450 when it was built, and this capacity was increased to 617 in 1945.

A small shop next door, built at the same time as the theatre, was used as a confectioner's shop, opened during regular business hours but also for the theatre patrons. During World War 2, this shop was let to the Red Cross on Thursdays, and, under the direction of the wife of Mayor Devenish, sold pies and other goodies for the war effort: it may have been used by other groups on other days of the week.
Margaret Tanner can remember one dramatic incident during World War 2, when members of her family were attending a screening with the Johnson children. A message appeared on the screen: ´Would the Johnson family please go home'. They all knew immediately that something was wrong, so all hurried to the Johnson home to find that one son had gone missing over the British channel.

The Regent theatre closed in 1966, and in the nineties the building was the Slovenian Club.

Public Health Department, building permits, Battye 1459
Max Bell, Perth - a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, pp.45-46
Vyonne Geneve, Significant buildings of the 1930s in Western Australia, Vyonne Geneve, June 1994, National Trust of Australia (WA)/ National Estate Grants Programme, vol.1
Everyone's, 9 May 1928, p.34; 23 October 1929, pp.18-19
Film Weekly Directory, 1943/4 - 1964/5
Post Office Directory, 1937/8 - 1949
West Australian, 1937 - 1966
Informant: Margaret Tanner (Guildford, September 1997)

1 exterior (Garne Hall), colour, 1981 (Bill Turner)
1 exterior, b&w, n.d. (Max Bell, Perth - a cinema history, p.45)
1 exterior, colour, 1997, Graeme Bertrand Link to image