Fremantle stuff > cinemas > King's Theatre
The site at 66 South Terrace next to the Freemasons Hotel was from 1897 an open-air venue called The Olde Englishe Fayre, and also the Pavilion Theatre 1899-1903. The King's Theatre was built and opened 27 September 1904. It was originally known as the Dalkeith Opera House because its owner builder James Gallop (of the family of former Premier Geoff Gallop) owned 'Dalkeith', a house on his farm in what is now the Perth suburb of that name (the house there is now called Gallop House). He also owned the Freemasons Hotel next door (now the Sail and Anchor). After it was closed as a theatre in the 1920s, the theatre fittings were removed and the building used a panel beater's premises.
In 2021, the building is for sale.
Since the 1970s it has been used as a nightclub. It is currently Metropolis Fremantle. The photo shows the restored verandahs.
The exterior is extant, as seen in the photo from a time when the nite club was called Visions, and owned by Nunzio Gumina.
One of the most popular niteclubs in the southern hemisphere, Metropolis Fremantle has been a West Australian icon since 1991. With eight bars and four chambers, Metropolis Fremantle has a mood to suit everyone... right in the heart of beautiful Fremantle.
YE OLDE ENGLYSHE FAYRE
The opening night of the Olde Englishe Fayre at Fremantle was an unqualified success. The audience was a large one, numbering about 2,000. An excellent programme was provided and met with the greatest appreciation at the hands of the patrons of the Fayre. Miss Emmie Smith and Mr Harry Fitzmaurice were in special demand. The acrobatic feats of the Bauvard family were excellent and the coster songs of Mr Pat Melton received a large number of encores. Owing to the unfortunate accident to Mr. Ted Bauvard his part was taken by Mr. Joe Cowan. The exhibition given by Messrs. Wal., Syd. and Bert Bauvard on the treble trapeze was of a sensational character and called forth unstinted applause from the spectators Mr. Tom Williams acted as music conductor and Mr. Harry Fitzmaurice as stage manager. The setting of the stage was of a pleasing character, the scenery provided being decidedly artistic. The electric light furnished for the occasion was the first installation in the town and worked satisfactorily.
The West Australian [Perth], Thursday 14 October 1897: 6
THE NEW THEATRE AT FREMANTLE
A HANDSOME STRUCTURE.
To-morrow evening will witness, at Fremantle, the opening of The King's Theatre—a handsome structure—in the erection of which some thousands of pounds have been expended, and employment has been found for a small army of workmen for a period extending over eight months. The requirements of the community at Fremantle demanded a theatre such as that which now occupies a place amongst the architectural adornments of the Port, and a grateful acknowledgment is due to Mr. James Gallop, of "Dalkeith," who is the proprietor of the new building. That gentleman was fortunate in securing a site which is generally recognised as the best possible one for a theatre. It adjoins the Freemasons' Hotel, in South-terrace, and was until recently the location of the Olde Englyshe Fayre.
The building, which is in the renaissance style of architecture, has a neatly designed, but not extravagantly ornamented facade. There are six beautiful pedestal lamps, which were lighted on Saturday night, furnishing a brilliant illumination. A feature of the exterior of the structure is the unroofed promenade, 12ft. wide and 200ft. long, extending the full length of the property, and corresponding with the handsome balcony of the Freemasons' Hotel. A row of five shops in the front of the building should be exceedingly useful for revenue purposes. There are three spacious entrances to the theatre, the dress circle door being in the centre. This opens on to an attractive granolithic staircase leading above to the vestibule, off which are large and convenient cloak-rooms for ladies and gentlemen. Recently Mr. George Musgrove visited the theatre, and when he passed through these rooms he remarked that they were as good, if not better, than anything he had seen in London. On the opposite side is a large foyer, 35ft. square, which, like the cloak-rooms, opens on to the promenade.The stalls entrance on the west side of the building is also spacious, and has been constructed so as to minimise as far as possible the inconvenience of crowding. This remark applies also to the pit entrance, on the other side of the theatre. Unlike many other places of amusement the Fremantle Theatre is not cramped in its construction. There is plenty of space on either side, which, besides being of great advantage in the case of a panic, if one should occur at any time, has enabled the architect to grapple successfully with the problem of providing light and ventilation.
Having admired the exterior of the building, one is prepared for the view inside. The first impression is that the accommodation is inadequate for the probable requiremenits, but inquiries elicit the fact that an audience of 1,200 can be comfortably seated, apart from the gallery. It is a theatre of only one gallery, "the gods" having been abandoned. This example has been set by the new theatres in America and Europe, for several reasons, the chief of which is that the upper gallery spoils the dress circle by confining the air and stopping ventilation. It is stated that large houses are not popular with managers of companies, who prefer a compact building which may be comfortably filled every night, and which will give the spectators in all parts of the house a good view of the stage. The auditorium is 68ft. 6in. x 57ft., with a height of 33ft. The domed ceiling is furnished with ornamental ventilators, which can be rolled away, and there are corresponding slides in the roof, sufficient to leave an open space of about 10ft. square.
Special attention has been given to the dress circle, which has accommodation for 300 people. The seats, which were locally made to a special design by the architect, are upholstered in crimson Utrecht velvet, and they are so arranged that an uninterrupted view of the stage may be had from any one of them. No pillars supporting an upper gallery obstruct the vision of the occupant of the circle and cut in two a picture on the stage. The floors of the aisles are richly carpeted, and no trouble or expense has been spared to provide for the comfort of patrons. The stalls and the pit will seat about 900, and here again the arrangements have been carried out with a judicious regard to the convenience of the people who will use those parts of the house. The floor is level, but the seats in the pit, underneath the dress circle, have been raised on a gradual slope, so that a splendid view of the performance may be obtained. Provision has been made by the architect for increased accommodation for patrons of the popular part of the house, should such alteration be required at any future date. The decorations are artistic throughout the auditorium. The balustrade of the circle is finished in gold and soft toues of lilac and cream, and the same colours have been used for the proscenium.
Probably the scenic work could not have been placed in more capable hands than those of Messrs. Phil. Goatcher and Son, of Perth, and the new theatre contains no more attractive feature than the drop curtain. It is certainly a fine specimen of the scenic painter's art. The curtain which is of asbestos, measures 32ft. by 22ft., and on it is painted a representation of "Diana Going to the Chase."
All of the colours for the production were specially imported from Messrs. Sherwood and Williams, of America. Seated in her gilded chariot, the goddess, surrounded by her retinue and slaves, is depicted with artistic force, and the colouring is in harmony with the tapestries and borderings of the curtain. The Port of Fremantle is represented in the lower panel, and on either side are the two masks of "Comedy" and 'Tragedy," with four Cupids bearing garlands and clusters of fruit. The panels at the sides are deoorated with dancing figures and emblems of Music and the Drama.
By far the most striking part of the theatre is the stage, which is, it is claimed, extensive enough for the production of the largest and most spectacular pieces that are ever likely to be put on. It is 60ft by 40ft., with fly galleries at 20ft. and gridiron at 52ft. from the floor, so that all scenery may be raised without rolling. There is a paint-frame at the back of the stage, upon which a curtain 42ft. wide, can be painted, and all modern and up-to-date appliances have, it is stated, been provided. The cellar is 60ft. by 40ft. and 10ft. deep, and is well lighted and fitted with all the usual trap-doors, etc. from the stage floor. The dressing-rooms are on the west side of the stage, and are accessible through the stalls entrance.
The rooms, which are commodious and well ventilated, are arranged in suites of four on the ground and first and second floors. They are comfortably fitted up, and are provided with lavatories and all conveniences. The fire service is complete, and there would seem to be little fear of an outbreak gaining an extensive hold of the building. There are no fewer than thirteen escape doors scattered throughout the theatre, and the place could be emptied in a few minutes.
Many professionals, besides Mr. Musgrove have visited the theatre, and they have all expressed delight at the accommodation for the performers behind the curtain, and for the public in the auditorium. The building reflects great credit upon all who have been engaged in its construction. Mr. F. W. Burwell, F.R.I.B.A. (Lond.) of Fremantle, is the architect, and at the request of Mr. Gallop, as much of the work as was possible was carried out locally. The contract was secured by Mr. James Brownlie who had with him as clerk of works Mr. W. Sefton. Messrs. Craig and Co. did the painting and the granolithic work was carried out by Messrs. J. Crothers and Co. Messrs. Griffiths and Wright were the contractors for the seating and unholstering work and the lightings arrangements were attended to by the Fremantle Gas Company.
The management were fortunate in such a popular company as that of which Miss Maud Jeffries and Mr. Julius Knight and the leading members to open the theatre. Tomorrow evening this combination will begin a season of four nights and will be followed by the Holloway Company who, in turn, will give place to the Brandon-Cremer Dramatic Company.
The West Australian, Thursday 14 October 1897: 6
Architect F.W. Burwell was responsible for the design of one of the largest halls for live theatre in Fremantle, originally seating 1200 people - the Dalkeith Opera house. Later known as Kings Theatre, the foundation stone for this building was laid by the owner, Mr James Gallop on 20 February 1904. Tenders for the project had been let in January of that year and when the above ceremony was performed, Mr James Brownlie, the contractor, had completed the foundations and commenced the brickwork for all external walls. The project consisted of the theatre and five shops on a site adjoining the Freemasons Hotel, (now Sail and Anchor Hotel) at that time also owned by James Gallop. Entry was between shops into a foyer on ground floor, to stalls in the auditorium and a staircase led to supper rooms over the shops, accessible to the dress circle, with a balcony over the pavement.
The King's Theatre was used during the WW1 by a repertory group known as the Black Butterflies - a group of young single women who put on variety shows. The theatre was closed in the early 1920s and was subsequently sold and was 'converted' for use as a panel beating works. The seats and dress circle were removed and a concrete floor inserted throughout the auditorium. The stage was also removed and the arch bricked up to provide another garage with access from the rear.
More recently from 1970s, the building has been used for night clubs. Balcony restored 2002/02. Currently (2002), Metropolis Concert Club on the first floor, and The Mill and Swanston Jewellers on the ground floor.
Two storey rendered and parapet building, has a zero setback from the pavement. The parapet has a pediment where '1904' appears in the pediment. A verandah awning over the first floor has glass sheeting (not original).
Statement of Significance
Largest theatre for live shows in Fremantle at the turn of the century and was a popular venue for shows during WW1. The place is of historic significance as an example of a commercial building in the Fremantle Town Centre dating from the early decades of the twentieth century. The place is a fine example of a Federation Free Style building, with elaborate stucco decoration above the ground floor level, that makes a significant contribution to the streetscape. The place is of social significance as evidenced by its classification by the National Trust.
Ye Olde Englishe Fayre (or Pavilion) opened (October 1897?), and closed in 1903 and was demolished. Dalkeith Opera House was built in 1904, and opened on 27th September 1904. The theatre was known for a short time from April 1914 as the Tivoli Theatre, but soon reverted to the name King’s Theatre. The theatre closed in 1921.
The building was converted for use as a panel beating shop. A plan to reopen the building after World War II as a vaudeville venue fell through. In 1979 the building was converted into an ice skating rink, in 1984 it became an unlicensed disco, and shops and offices. After renovation, which earned a heritage award from Fremantle City Council, it became the Metropolis Nightclub, which was the venue for the centenary of the building on 8th October 2004.
From Companion To Theatre In Australia:
Theatre in South Terrace, opened 27 September 1904 as Dalkeith Opera House. Architect: F.W. Burwell. Soon renamed King's Theatre.
Designed as a lyric theatre, and briefly designated as an opera house, the King's Theatre appears to have functioned as a multipurpose venue until it closed in 1920. It opened with Maude Jeffries, Julius Knight and a London company in four plays presented by J.C. Williamson. The theatre, built adjacent to the Freemason's Hotel for James Gallop, had a 27-metre Renaissance-style frontage which included five shop fronts at street level. An upstairs supper room gave onto a full-length gaslit balcony above the pavement. The stalls and circle seated about 1200 people, and there was room for more in the gallery.
In hot weather the auditorium could be cooled by opening a sliding panel in the roof and numerous decorative ventilators. In response to adverse reports on the safety of the Theatre Royal in Perth, numerous safety measures were incorporated in the King's Theatre, including sprinklers over the stage and 13 fire-escape doors. The provision of backup electricity and gas systems suggests that the King's Theatre was technically well-equipped. The stage measured 18.29 by 12.19 metres, with fly galleries at 7.92 metres and a grid at 15.85 metres above the floor. When the theatre closed part of the building was converted to a panel-beating workshop. Another part was temporarily converted to an ice rink in 1978, and part of this is now a night club. Philip Parsons, Victoria Chance, Companion To Theatre In Australia, Currency Press with Cambridge University Press, Sydney, NSW, 1995
WA CinemaWeb page
Cinema Treasures page
Heritage Council pages
Australian Live Performance Database
What follows is the whole entry, unedited, for this former cinema from the ammpt (Australian Museum Of Motion Picture & Television Inc.) site - not as an act of copyright theft but as a backup. Websites often disappear for various reasons.
YE OLDE ENGLISHE FAYRE/PAVILION/DALKEITH OPERA HOUSE/KING'S/ TIVOLI/KING'S, 66 South Terrace, Fremantle
fremantle ye old english fayre 1981
Ye Olde English Fayre 1981
Ye Olde Englishe Fayre was a summer pleasure gardens in South Terrace, beside the Freemasons Hotel. Fremantle rate records list the Pavilion Theatre in 1899 – 1903 as on the same site, but it is not clear whether the Pavilion was within the Fayre or the two names were alternatives for the same enterprise. The Fayre was opened by Court and Butcher in October for the 1897 season, was apparently dark the next summer and was re-opened by Jones and Lawrence for the summers of 1899-1900 and 1900-1901. Jones and Lawrence introduced films to the site, as an occasional part of their vaudeville programmes in both summer seasons, but their programmes did not feature films as was done at the similarly-named site in Perth itself.
In 1904 the Dalkeith Opera House, later known as the King’s Theatre, was built on the site. It was designed by F.W.Burwell and built by Mr James Brownlie for entrepreneur James Gallop. At that time this was the most prestigious theatre in Fremantle. In 1909 The Official Guide to Western Australia (p.202) described it thus:
A handsome structure, built for the proprietor, Mr James Gallop, was opened on September 27, 1904. The theatre is situated in South Terrace, and adjoins the Freemason’s Hotel. The building, which is in the Renaissance style of architecture, has a neatly designed facade, and can accommodate about 1,200 persons, apart from the gallery. The building consists of one gallery only, viz. the dress circle, with accommodation for 300 persons; the auditorium is 68 ft. 6 ins. by 57 feet, with a height of 33 feet. The ceiling is furnished with ornamental ventilators, which can be rolled away; the sliding roof is also sufficient to leave an open space of about 10 feet square. The stage is 60 feet by 40 feet, with fly galleries at 26 feet and gridiron at 52 feet from the floor. The whole of the building is well provided in case of fire, there being 13 escape doors scattered throughout the theatre.
Later, architectural historian Warren Kerr (p.90) explained:
The main entry to the theatre was between shops at street level. This opened into a foyer through which the audience passed to the stalls in the auditorium. A staircase also led from the entry to supper rooms situated over the shops. From this on one side, the dress circle was accessible, while on the other, doors opened onto a balcony situated over the pavement, from which views of the ocean were possible. This promenade was 90 feet in length and lighted with 'handsome’ gas lights.
It was, however, not without its critics, including Sydney-based entrepreneur Geo. Musgrove, who, while visiting the West damned the new theatre with faint praise, saying that it had three faults:
…the floor has been constructed without any slope at all, the second is that you are lighting it with gas, and the third is the horseshoe construction of the gallery. Never mind it is a really good theatre. (West Australian, 16 September 1904)
Almost at once, films were included in many of the programmes presented at the theatre, though it remained a predominantly live venue. Cozens Spencer, for a three-night films season in September 1905, advertised that he would install:
a 220 volt 60 Ampere Dynamo, driven by 35 Horse power steam engine, which will supply a 3,000 Candle-power arc – a light that will enable Senora Spencer to reproduce and project the Company’s selection of the World’s ACME OF ANIMATED ART. (West Australian 21 September 1905)Local Fremantle subjects were occasionally shown here, including film of the Perth versus East Fremantle football match on 29 September 1906. Leonard Davis introduced regular film screenings by various companies on Sunday evenings from 10 November 1906, the first such shows in Fremantle. These continued, with other screenings irregularly on weeknights, till West’s opened their permanent Fremantle season there on 31 October 1908. They shifted to the Town Hall in April 1909, but returned to the King’s in October 1910. In both sites, these ‘permanent’ seasons were occasionally interrupted for other uses of the premises, so the company must have been relieved when they took over the newly-constructed Princess in December 1912. After this, the Young Australia League conducted the regular screenings in the King’s theatre, but only on Saturday and Monday, while Davis continued to present the Sunday concerts. For a short time from April 1914 it was called the Tivoli, but soon reverted to the name ‘King’s’. The rash of purpose-built cinemas during and after World War 1 brought too much competition to the King’s: it returned to its original policy, and from 1919 presented only vaudeville till it was closed permanently in the late twenties.
In February 1921, the following news report appeared in the West Australian:
A PEANUT STRIKE
The latest body to be affected by industrial unrest is that of the boys employed to sell peanuts at the King’s Theatre, Fremantle. An altercation arose among the boys as to the method of working the theatre, and authority in the person of their employer descended upon them and “sacked” two of their number. A stop work meeting was held immediately, and the extreme element gaining control a strike was called. It was not long however before the familiar cry of “Peanuts, lollies, and chocolate” was heard ringing through the hall, and the extremists were informed that they “could have the strike all on their own.”
The building was converted for use as a panel beating shop. A plan by Sir Benjamin Fuller to reopen the theatre as a vaudeville venue after World War 2 fell through. In 1979 the building was converted into an ice skating rink, and in 1984 it was in use as an unlicensed disco. Another plan to renovate the building as a cinema in the late eighties also fell through, and in 1997 it was in use as shops and offices, though the facade was still impressive. After renovation, which earned a heritage award from Fremantle City Council, it became the Metropolis nightclub, which was the venue for a celebration of the centenary of the building, on 8 October 2004.
Sources: Fremantle City Council ratebooks 1898 – 1928
The Heritage of Western Australia: the Illustrated Register of the National Estate, Macmillan 1989, p.21
Max Bell, 'Fremantle Opera House/ Kings Theatre’, Kino no.59, March 1997, p.26
Louise Dumas, 'Fremantle’s seaside opera house’, Fremantle Gazette, 26 October 1978, p.3
Jack Honniball, ‘Two theatres fit for a king’ Kino, no. 90, Summer 2004, pp.8-9
Warren Kerr, Architecture in Fremantle 1875 – 1915, the author, 1973, pp.89-92
Everyone’s, 20 March 1929, p.37
Mail, vol.1, no.164, 9 July 1904
Official Guide to Western Australia, Wigg & Sons, December 1909
Post Office Directory, 1899 – 1937/8
West Australian, 22 February 1904; 16 September 1904; 21 September 1905; 21 February 1920; 20 March 1920
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Ken Booth (1978)
Photos: 1 exterior, colour, 1981 (Bill Turner)
1 exterior (Dalkeith Opera House), The Heritage of Western Australia: the Illustrated Register of the National Estate, Macmillan 1989, p21
2 exteriors (sketch 2004, photo undated), Kino, no.90, Summer 2004, p.8
Garry Gillard | New: 12 December, 2013 | Now: 7 April, 2021