Fremantle Stuff > Cinemas > Town Hall

Town Hall

The Fremantle Town Hall was opened 22 June 1887. It was the location for the first screening of moving pictures in Fremantle, when Frank St Hill presented a programme on an Edison machine for one night only - Wednesday 16 December 1896. After that, touring companies presented occasional film programmes or short seasons there irregularly, and there were also occasional Sunday Rational Concerts presented, till West's moved there from the King's Theatre on 24 April 1909, to start the first permanent season. Irate citizens protested at their hall being leased in this fashion:

Money may be scarce with the civic fathers but that fact surely does not justify the ratepayers and many societies in Fremantle being deprived of the right to use the Town Hall on reasonable notice...

Apparently even the Mayor cannot have the Town Hall to convene a public meeting in. (letter to the editor, from Reuben Bailey, Baptist Manse, Fremantle, West Australian, 26 April 1909)

West's continued to screen in the Town Hall, however, till the lease was taken over by Vic's Pictures, a local company named after Victor Newton, one of the four partners in the business. They opened on 24 October 1910, and continued to screen there till 7 January 1919, by which time the company had expanded into the central business district of Perth and into other suburbs.

For many years, in the boom days of cinema in the district, when there were plenty of purpose-built venues available, the hall was used only occasionally for films. In the 1970s, when there was no other venue available, it was revived by Peter Thomson and then taken over by local film-maker Daryl Binnings, who conducted mainly children's matinees on Saturdays and special school holiday seasons. These screenings were sufficiently successful to persuade the Council that renovation to improve acoustics was justifiable, but the film screenings did not become permanent, and faded out in the 1980s.

Sources

Fremantle Library, Collection of programmes and cuttings
Max Bell, 'Fremantle Town Hall', Kino no.51, March 1995, p.17
Max Bell, Perth: a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, 1986 pp.26-28
John K.Ewers, The Western Gateway: a history of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council 1971
J.K.Hitchcock, The History of Fremantle: the front gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council n.d.
Post Office Directory, 1912 - 14, 1918
West Australian, 14 Dec. 1896 - 1 Mar. 1919; 22 Aug. 1973
Interviews (Ina Bertrand): Ken Booth (1978), Peter Thomson (1997)
Interview (Margaret Howroyd): Peter Thomson (1994)
Limelight Picture Show Tours, http//:www.abc.net.au/limelight/docs/tours

Photos

1 exterior, colour, 1981
1 exterior, b&w, circa 1910 (from Fremantle Library collection)
1 exterior, b&w, J.K.Hitchcock, The History of Fremantle: the front gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council n.d. Hitchcock p.9
1 exterior, b&w, John K.Ewers, The Western Gateway: a history of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council 1971, opp. p.145
1 exterior, b&w, Kino no.51, March 1995, p.17

All of the above is from the WA CinemaWeb site, kept here merely as a backup to that.


Garry Gillard | New: 3 January, 2015 | Now: 23 September, 2015