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The Strand Cinemas - Open House 2015

Home > Toowoomba > Historic Houses | Community Events | Cinema
by Rachel Timmins (subscribe)
I am a senior writer for Weekend Notes, a copywriter, editor, published poet and former editor of poetry magazine Fruit Salad. I have also authored children's fiction and inspirational pieces.
Much-loved historical ‘flickers’
The Strand Cinemas Toowoomba
The Strand Cinemas, 163 Margaret St, Toowoomba.
The Strand Cinemas building is the oldest in Australia still operating as purpose-built. This heritage-listed darling marks its 100th anniversary in April 2016; celebratory events to be announced.

On 18 October 2015, the cinemas will participate as one of many historical buildings in the annual not-for-profit Open House event. Sponsored by the Historical Society, Open House will guide you through parts of the cinema not normally accessible to the public.

As the Palace Picture Gardens, the cinemas opened in January 1914 with open air 'photo plays' shown by a biograph projector. Seating options included deck chairs, folding chairs and fixed gallery chairs. Photo plays included Tiny Tim Steals an Elephant and The Mystery of the A.V.Z. Ranch.

The Strand Theatre opened on 15 April 1916, built for James Newman, a Toowoomba City Alderman. Architect George Addison designed the building. In addition to the theatre seating for 1100, it housed an orchestra pit and a ladies' cloak room. Opening night was accompanied by The Strand Symphony Orchestra. The evening's program included motion pictures Gallipoli and ANZAC and Rags.
Strand Cinemas Crown Hotel
The Crown Hotel abutting the cinemas, the top floor still contains the hotel rooms, laundry and toilets.

Strand Theatre under construction
The Strand Theatre under construction in 1916.
The third floor was connected to the Crown Hotel, providing additional accommodation. This floor is closed off now but still contains the hotel rooms, laundry and toilet facilities. The present day vestibule tiles and lead-light windows featuring vines and red flowers are the originals. In 1930, Birch Carroll & Coyle began their association with The Strand, introducing the 'talkies'.

Guy Crick's design in 1933 featured a fan-shaped motif around the proscenium, lighting and wall friezes. Refurbishments were carried out over the years and included ceiling lights akin to a pagoda's dome, a rising sun with ram's horns and a deep blue curtain. In 1959 the current owners, the Sourris family, purchased the cinemas.
Strand Theatre 1940
The Strand Theatre in 1940.

Strand Cinemas artifact
Enjoy hot drinks and an artifact in the lounge.
In 2012 the first digital projector was installed seeing the end of the film era. Early in 2015, refurbishment transformed two cinemas into boutique cinemas in recognition of current trends to provide a unique experience.

From 9-11 October 2015 the Travelling Film Festival will present films including 'A Second Chance', 'The Crow's Egg' and 'Only the Dead'. Short films include 'Nulla Nulla', 'The Drover's Boy' and 'Slingshot'. 'Holding the Man' opens the event with complimentary drinks afterwards.

The café serves delicious hot drinks including hot chocolates with inventive additions such as Aero Mint and macadamia. Enjoy your pre-movie drinks in the cozy lounge area where you can also admire an historical cinematic artifact.

Be the first to recommend the Travelling Film Festival and also come to appreciate an historic building that many have a warm heart for.
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Why? Historical Building oldest purpose built
When: 9-11 & 18 October 2015
Phone: 0432 939 350
Where: Toowoomba, Margaret Street
Cost: Open House is Free
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