The Richmond Theatre and Gardens was opened at the corner of Canning Highway and Silas St, East Fremantle in 1934, at 149 Canning Highway. It was built by Herbert Locke. It closed as a cinema in 1961, and was converted for use as the Richmond Shopping Centre, featuring Charlie Carters grocery. The building was demolished 1979 (see below). A large residential/commercial development called Richmond Quarter is now on the site. Locke's Richmond Theatre and Gardens Company also operated the Mayfair, further east along Canning Road, past the corner of Petra St.
NEW PICTURE THEATRE
Opening at East Fremantle.
The opening of the new Richmond Picture Theatre, at the corner of Canning-road and Silas-street, East Fremantle, was performed last night by the Mayor of Fremantle (Mr. F. E. Gibson). The Mayor of East Fremantle (Mr. H. J. Locke), who is also a principal of the Richmond Theatre and Garden Co., Ltd., the proprietors of the theatre, introduced Mr. Gibson, who said that it was cheering to know the building had been built almost exclusively of West Australian products. He congratulated those responsible for the erection of the building, and wished the management every success.
Mr. J. B. Sleeman,. M.L.A., moved a vote of thanks to Mr. Gibson. Built at a cost of about £7,000, the theatre is of brick and concrete with a roof of corrugated asbestos supported on steel principals. The frontage to Canning-road is occupied by four shops, and behind the theatre is an open-air picture garden. Measuring 98ft. by 54ft.. with a height of 33ft., the theatre is designed to seat 550 people in the stalls and 326 in a gallery. The screen and proscenium at the front of the theatre are set out with plaster lattice. The ceiling is of moulded plaster set out with heavy plaster beams, and the walls are finished in rough straw-coloured plaster. Raycophone sound equipment has been installed. Mr. R. F. Franklin has been appointed manager. The pictures selected for the opening night were 'I Was a Spy' (Madeleine Carroll, Herbert Marshall, and Conrad Veidt) and 'The Last Round Up' (Randolph Scott and Barbara Adams). The West Australian, Saturday 15 December 1934, page 22.
There is some suggestion that the Richmond started as a gardens on the north side of Canning Rd, opposite the Swan gardens. However, a building permit was issued for the Silas St corner on 21 May 1934, and records state that the theatre and gardens was completed on this site in December 1934 and operated by the Richmond Theatre and Gardens Co, which also operated the Swan/Mayfair (Palmyra). In the forties, the Richmond theatre and gardens each held approx 800, though in the latter years of its history this was reduced slightly to 750 each. It closed in 1961 and was demolished in 1979 to make way for a shopping complex.
FHC photo #3444, Nick Silich, 1979. The C And S Fruit and Vegetable Market was originally the Richmond Theatre. The Locke family owned the theatre and the pictures were shown by Jimmy Hedgeland and Bert Franklin. The supermarket building was demolished in 1979. Taken 2 June 1979.
The block of flats visible in the distance to the left is Harbour Heights, at 46 East St, and the East Fremantle Town Hall is on the right.
Jack Lee records Gladys Locke saying that her father Herbert John Locke 'built the Richmond theatre and shopping centre in Silas St and a similar complex at the corner of Petra St and Canning Rd. The Richmond theatre and the open air section alongside it were later converted into a grocery supermarket. The Mayfair theatre is now a bingo centre and store.' (Jack Lee, This is East Fremantle, Perth 1973, p.143)
References and Links
Lee, Jack 1973, This is East Fremantle (The story of a town and its people), East Fremantle Town Council.
CinemaWeb page for this cinema
Fremantle History Centre
Garry Gillard | New: 3 January, 2014 | Now: 5 August, 2016