Just spotted a blog from National Film & Sound Archive featuring photos of the Melba Theatre in Strathfield based on footage of its demolition in 1969. http://ryszard.net/unknown/?p=61. This theatre was located in Mosely Street on the north side of the Starhfield railway station and now is a block of units.
The Strathfield area had a number of theatres built form late 1920s and early 1930s, like the Melba, Enfield Savoy, Homebush Theatre as well as the Astor and Palatial in nearby Burwood. The decline of cinemas started as television audiences grew in the 1950s and by the late 1960s many had closed, turned into carpet or furniture warehouses or demolished and replaced by something really dull.
The Roger McKenzie Collection at the National Film & Sound Archive is from footage shot by McKenzie of the demolition of many suburban cinemas from the 1960s to 1980s.
Many readers of this site may be aware of my interest in theatres as my both the Homebush Vogue and Enfield Savoy were at different times managed by my great grandfather, who worked for Western Suburbs Cinema and then Hoyts.
Both are still standing, the Homebush Theatre is a listed heritage item but I don’t think the Enfield Savoy is listed by Burwood Council. The old Theatre buildings are a reminder when the suburbs were sprinkled with the glamour of Hollywood (as US films dominated the screens) and were a well loved community meeting place. My grandmother often spoke about nights at the cinema as a time for dressing up and throwing on the furs but the theatres were often used for large community meetings also.
Thank you so much for the pics of the Melba. I remember it so well. There was a milk bar just inside that only opened when the movies were on, they were called pictures then. There was a glass shelf behind the counter wHere they used to stack the winning post boxes of chocolates. I often walked past there back inThe 1950s when I walked from home in wentworth road strathfield next to the present OTEN, over to Sunday school at St. Andrews strathfield, cnr parramatta and what was then concord road. I also had school prize giving a there. In the photo you can see to the right of the Melba part of the group of shops that were there, the second one down was Dash’s chemist, it was there for years then moved across to the boulevard, so many thanks for the memories.
My mother says she can remember the chocolate shop at the Enfield Savoy, apparently chocolate was made onsite.
I too frequented the Savoy at Enfield as I lived in Mintaro Avenue and it was a brisk
walk but always well worth the effort.
I do remember the sweet shop which was on the corner next to the Theatre might have been Byer Avenue but I do recall the husband and wife owners who I gather made the tasty treats that were on offer.
Years later I was lolly boy at the Astor on Burwood Road opposite the park but occasionally was required at the Palatial on Railway Parade.
My mother said she remembers the sweet shop. She said that the chocolates were handmade by two sisters.
Roystons ( not sure of the spelling) was the name of the chocolate shop and I used to take my two young brothers to the movies every Saturday afternoon. They also made the best Milk Ice blocks served in square cones.
I often went to both the Homebush cinema on a Saturday afternoon and the Melba at Strathfield. The Melba was quite plush
and elegant inside. It was a pity to see it go. The Homebush theatre ran lots of kids shows on Saturday afternoons.