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Cinemas

Arcadia was the name sometimes taken by the North Fremantle Town Hall when used as a cinema. This imposing bluestone building holding around 400 patrons was constructed in 1902, and was used by touring film companies from at least 1906, when Bartlett’s Electric Biograph performed there. Permanent seasons appear to have started there during World War 1, under several different managements, none of which were particularly successful.

Beacon Theatre was a Fremantle cinema despite the fact that, as its name suggests, it is almost in Beaconsfield. It opened in 1937, and probably closed as a cinema not long before 1970. The building still exists, and is in good condition, and is now in use as a medical centre, Ellen Health (which used to be in Ellen Street, opposite Fremantle Park, whence the name - which in turn comes from Ellen Mangles, wife of James Stirling).

Cine 2 was an 'adult' cinema at 6 Elder Place from 1983 to 1997 or later. Opened in 1983, this was one of two cinemas operated by Club Adult Cinemas (the other being in Barrack St, Perth), screening non-stop adult movies. It was still operating in 1997. Sources: West Australian 1985, 1988. (My source: ammmpt.asn.au)

FTI (Film and Television Institute) in the former Boys School in Adelaide St, had occasional screenings, sometimes outdoors in Princess May Park - as the 'Bohemia Outdoor Cinema' - between FTI and Port Cinéaste. In May 2014 FTI left for the Northbridge Cultural Precinct, after more than forty years in Freo. (When it was first set up, by Jo O'Sullivan et al., it was called PIFT, the Perth Institute for Film and Television.)

Hilton Park Gardens, 308 South Street, were opened in 1952/3, and closed 1964. The site is now a shopping centre (between Victor and Ethelwyn Streets).

Hoyts Queensgate, with six screens, operated until 21 July 2014.

Hoyts Millennium with four screens is a cinema complex currently operating in Collie Street.

King's Theatre, 52-62 South Terrace Fremantle, was next to the Freemasons (Sail and Anchor) Hotel. It was built by James Gallop, and was also called the Dalkeith Opera House after a house owned by Gallop in what became the suburb, Dalkeith. (The house is now called Gallop House.) Previously on that site were the The Olde Englishe Fayre and the Pavilion Theatre 1899-1903. The building now houses the Metropolis (night club).

Luna on SX is nominally in Essex St (hence the SX) but really closer to Norfolk St.

Majestic Theatre was in High Street, in the middle of what is now the High Street Mall.

It opened in 1916 and was closed in 1938 when the site was redeveloped for retail, and the facade is over what was the Manning Arcade (not sure if that has continued to exist in the new development).

The auditorium (upstairs) was empty, and lacking a ceiling. Since I saw it, it has been redeveloped by Silverleaf Investments. Where the audiotorium was is now a law firm's offices.

The Mayfair was near the corner of Petra St and Canning Rd (Hwy) East Fremantle, and was built by Herbert Locke in 1932.

The Empire Hall, later Swan Suburban Pictures, was on the site before Locke's building - which appears still to exist.

Oddfellows Hall/Gaiety/Bijou, William St opp. Town Hall, opened July 1867.

Harper's Biograph Vaudeville Company showed a season of films 8-13 November 1897, as one of the earliest screenings in Fremantle. (The very first was in the Town Hall.)

Demolished 1925 (or 1919).

Olympia, Leake St, 1909-1913, a skating rink converted into a cinema for use during summer; in winter the company used the Victoria Hall (see below).

Oriana Cinema (1938-1972) was on the corner of High and Queen Streets, next to the Victoria Hall, and was an art deco building which was removed in 1972 in favour of some very ordinary shops. First building on the site was a house, which became a hotel - the Rose and Crown, and then became a grammar school directed by Henry Briggs, until he had the extant school built on the top of the hill in High Street. The cinema was renamed Oriana after the P&O ship of the same name visited Fremantle.

Palladium Theatre (and Gardens?) opened in 1914 and closed in the late 1940s. Higham's Buildings in Market St occupy the whole block between Bannister and High Streets: the Palladium was behind the southern (or left-hand) third. The offices and shops of the street frontage are still in situ, but the cinema construction—whatever it was—is gone.

Pier Hotel, Cliff St. John Dowson writes that the Pier Hotel 'hosted an outdoor cinema at the rear'. (Dowson 2003: 121)

Port Cinéaste Cinema in Adelaide St, near FTI and Clancy's, with 150 seats, was usable until its demolition in 2014. It had been occasionally used for events, and was the home of Harbour Theatre from 2009 to about 2012. In late 2014 the cinema building was demolished, together with a number of shops and a Council carpark: half of the city block is supposed to become a Hilton hotel. In 2021 it's yet another carpark.

Princess Theatre was on the corner of Market and Leake Streets. It was built in 1912, and closed in 1969. The building remains, and the auditorium is used for storage. The fabric of the building is is much the same as when it was a cinema, including some decorative plasterwork. The entrance was through where Kakulas Sister now operates, and the 1930s arches and wallpaper can still be seen in the store.

Richmond Cinema was on the corner of Silas St and Canning Hwy, East Fremantle. Richmond Quarter, a block of flats, is now on the site.

Rose Picture Gardens with a stage and fixed seating was at 25 Mouat Street in the 1920s, occupying the whole corner with Croke Street. David Hutchison writes that 'No. 25 was the site of an old picture garden and a row of six cottages. The Batemans built a warehouse in the 1880s, which was demolished in 1937, and the cottages in 1942.' (116) The new building now there is the Prindiville Hall, part of NDU.

Sharpe's Penny Pictures, Holland Street, on the corner of Onslow Street, was not a cinema building as such. George Sharpe showed films in the backyard of his shop 1930-33, until the fire brigade closed him down.
Cinema Treasures: "William George Sharpe and his wife Beatrice Amy Matthews opened a grocery shop at 189 Holland Street, now 114 Holland Street, corner of Onslow Street, in 1919, and operated Sharpe’s Penny Pictures in the backyard of the grocery shop starting in January 1930. The fire brigade forced the closure of the show as a fire hazard in 1933. The grocery shop closed in 1950. The grocery shop was demolished (date unknown), and is now a small shopping centre - Old Values retro collectables store, two other shops, and a car park."
In 2021 there seems to be a restaurant there called The Cool Room.

The Starline Drive-In cinema was on the corner of Carrington and Jeffery Streets 1960-1988. The site is now domestic housing.

Town Hall Fremantle had films screened from as early as 16 December 1896 (West's, 1909; Vic's Pictures, 1910-19).

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.

Other such venues were: East Fremantle Town Hall, the North Fremantle Town Hall (as the Arcadia), Victoria Hall, and the Fremantle Prison.

Victoria Hall. {From cinematreasures.org:] Victoria Hall opened on 28th September 1897. Victoria Hall showed pictures in the winter months (dates of opening and closing unknown), when the Olympia wasn’t open. The hall was used by the Salvation Army (opening in 1970s or 1980s?) as an op shop, until they moved out (to a new location when the stage was declared unsafe (in the 1980s or 1990s). The hall was renovated and used by the Deckchair Theatre Company (until they closed down in (2012?) The hall is now used by Beaumonde Catering [?] and the Fly By Night Musicians Club (after they moved out of their previous building). Victoria Hall has been given National (Australian) Heritage listing.

Geneve & Facius's summary of Fremantle cinemas contains mistakes:
FREMANTLE THEATRES
In the well-populated port township, films were shown from time to time at the Fremantle, North Fremantle and East Fremantle town halls, and movies were also screened, on an irregular but gradually increasing basis, from around 1911 at several popular vaudeville venues in central Fremantle.
The facade of the King's Theatre can still be seen at the junction of Market and South streets, adjacent to the Newport Hotel. Almost opposite, the old Palladium Theatre once stood, on the corner of Bannister Street, while around the corner in High Street, the facade and balconies of the old Majestic Theatre are still evident. The Olympia Picture Palace, also in High Street in 1914, has disappeared.
Fremantle's foremost early picture house, the Princess Theatre, was commissioned by Coombe and designed by Claude H. Nicholas in 1911. It was constructed in Leake Street, with a front entrance from busy Market Street leading to the railway station. Patrons entered through an arcade between shops and crossed a right-of-way before entering the inner vestibule and the Edwardian-style auditorium, with seating for 1266. Doors opened on to Leake Street, for a quick exit after the show. The Princess featured an orchestrelle used for recitals and to accompany silent films.

The King's Theatre is not 'at the at the junction of Market and South streets, adjacent to the Newport Hotel': it's further to the south, tho only by 100m or so.

There was no 'Olympia Picture Palace in High Street'. The Victoria Hall (in High Street) was used for film screening as an alternative to the Olympia Skating Rink/cinema in Leake Street—according to the Australian Museum Of Motion Picture & Television Inc.

Other suburbs

The Coliseum Picture Theatre and Gardens was on the corner of Hay St and Rokeby Road, where the Regal Theatre now stands.

Cremorne Gardens and Theatre, 111 Murray Street Perth.

Lyric Theatre, Eighth Avenue, Maylands.

Roxy Gardens, Guildford Road, Maylands.

Wonder View, Bassendean.

References and Links

Bell, Max D. 1986, Perth: A Cinema History, Book Guild, Sussex: 20.

Dowson, John 2003, Old Fremantle, UWAP.

Geneve, Vyonne & Ron Facius 2016, Picture Palaces of the Golden West, National Trust of Australia: 24-25.

Gillard, Garry 2015, 'The cinemas of Fremantle', CinemaRecord, 85.

Hutchison, David 2006, Fremantle Walks, Fremantle Arts Centre Press.

Lee, Jack 1979, This is East Fremantle, East Fremantle Town Council: 152-153.

Australian Museum Of Motion Picture & Television

Cinema Treasures website

Cinema and Theatre Historical Society of Australia

WA CinemaWeb (part of the AMMPT)

Page for Fremantle at cinematreasures.org (that page shows only four venues: Bohemia Outdoor Cinema (in Princess May Park - a Circus School is currently on that site), Hoyts Millennium (spelt wrongly), Movies in the [Kings] Square, and Victoria Hall).


Garry Gillard | New: 23 June, 2013 | Now: 25 October, 2021