Fremantle Stuff > cinemas > Empire/Swan/Mayfair


East Fremantle, near the corner of Petra St and Canning Rd, now Hwy - but the building - built in 1936 - still exists, now near the corner of Westbury Crescent.


Before that on the site was the Empire Hall, which became Swan Suburban Pictures in 1932, if I understand the notes below correctly. I think it's likely they were written by Ina Bertrand for the WA Cinema Web website.

The Empire Hall, owned by the then Mayor of Fremantle, Mr Herbert Locke, appears to have been used as a regular film exhibition venue from at least 1927, under the name of Empire Pictures. In 1932 James McKerchar leased the hall, and renamed the venue Swan Suburban Pictures. He renovated it, including putting in a tissue paper ceiling to improve the acoustics, which had been a source of complaint from patrons after the introduction of sound. He bought the land next door and built the gardens himself, opening them in 1933. In 1936, he moved on to the Beacon at East Fremantle*, after selling the Swan gardens to Locke, who then operated both the theatre and gardens through his family company, Richmond Theatre and Gardens Co. In 1936, the company built the Mayfair cinema, with shops fronting onto the road. This opened in 1938, with the theatre and the gardens now each holding 800, though slightly less by the time they closed. The programmes screened were identical with those in the company's other cinema, the Richmond, further down the highway towards Fremantle: as each ran a double feature, during intermission Reg Franklin (Herbert Locke's son-in-law, who ran both theatres) would switch the films in his car. The Mayfair Theatre and gardens closed in 1961, the dress circle was converted into a mezzanine floor which became a supermarket, while the upstairs was used for bingo. Later still the premises were converted into a furniture shop operated by Percy Dunning, and the gardens area became a car park. In 1983 the whole premises were sold. Ina Bertrand (probably), from the WA CinemaWeb site.

*The Beacon Cinema is actually in Fremantle, tho on the border with Beaconsfield.

References and Links

WA CinemaWeb page

Garry Gillard | New: 12 December, 2013 | Now: 5 May, 2019