Theatres/Venues 2a: Sydney

Sydney CBD……. p.1
Inner West…… p.2
Northern Suburbs…… p.3
Eastern & South-Eastern Suburbs…… p.4

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Sydney CBD

sydney-cbd-and-environs

Click here for a
1903 map of the Sydney CDB and its environs.

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 ACADEMY OF MUSIC [1]: See Guild Hall

ACADEMY OF MUSIC [2] See Scandinavian Music Hall

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ADELPHI THEATRE

aka Grand Opera House / Tivoli Theatre [2]

(1911-1966) Corner of Castlereagh and Campbell streets.

Adelphi, Grand Op H, Tivoli [FVS - Tivoli, 111]The Adelphi was opened by George Marlow on 5 May 1911 as a melodrama house. In 1914 it came under the control of the Fullers (aka Brennan-Fuller), although Marlow retained an interest in the theatre up until his death in 1939. After extensive renovations they reopened the theatre as the Grand Opera House in August 1916. Later sub-let by Hugh J. Ward and Alan Wilkie, it was renamed the Tivoli in 1932 by lessee Con-Paul Theatres, and remained the Tivoli circuit’s Sydney stronghold until closed down in 1966.

Please note:  See Tivoli Theatre [1] for details relating to Sydney’s first Tivoli (aka The Garrick Theatre).
Image source: Frank Van Straten. Tivoli (2003), 111.

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ALHAMBRA MUSIC HALL

aka Alhambra Theatre / The Melba

(1885-ca.1920s) Corner of George and Campbell Streets (Haymarket district).

Opened as the Haymarket Academy in 1884, Frank Smith bought the building in 1885 and converted it into the Alhambra Music Hall. After he was forced out in 1892 by the economic depression, the theatre was leased such entrepreneurs as Harry Rickards (1893), St John and Wilson (1898/99) and for most of the 1900s and 1910s by the Pugliese family. The Alhambra was sold in 1921 and briefly operated as a cinema (The Melba) before becoming a storehouse for Mick Simmons.

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BIJOU PICTURE PALACE: See Princess Theatre

CAPITAL THEATRE: See Hippodrome

CLAY’S STANDARD THEATRE: See Royal Standard Theatre

EMPIRE THEATRE:  See Royal Standard Theatre

FULLERS’ THEATRE: See National Amphitheatre

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GAIETY THEATRE (Oxford Street)

aka Emu Theatre / The Trudamite

(1918-ca. 1930s)  17 Oxford Street (near Hyde Park).

Sadler-Kerr-Gaiety 3 Jan 1919]The Gaiety Theatre was once a drapery store before being converted into the Empire Picture Theatre in the early 1910s. Later known as the Emu and Trudamite, it became the Gaiety Theatre in 1918 under the management of vaudeville entrepreneur Harry Sadler and bookmaker Andy Kerr. Following Sadler’s death in 1919 Kerr brought in Harry Clay to run the entertainment. Clay eventually took over the operations and it remained one of his company’s key theatres well into the late 1920s.

Sources: Australian Variety: 3 Jan. (1917), n. pag • Australian Variety 15 Mar. (1918), n. pag. •  Djubal, Clay “Harry Clay and Clay’s Vaudeville Company – 1865-1930 (1998) • Theatre Magazine Dec. (1918), 32.

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GAIETY THEATRE: See also Guild Hall

GARRICK THEATRE: See Tivoli Theatre [1]

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GOLDEN GATE GARDENS

aka People’s Popular Concerts

Golden Gate Gardens - Syd [NAPAP 4 Mar 1905, 6](1904-1905) 525 George Street (Brickfield Hill).

Established in December 1904 by emerging entrepreneur George H. Jones, the Golden Gate Gardens operated as a People’s Popular Concerts entertainment in a roofless premises on the former site of the old Golden Gate Athletic Club (a venue well-known for boxing matches). The shows, presented 6 nights a week, comprised blackface minstrelsy, an American Bioscope (also used for illustrated songs), farces and dances. Jones continued operating the concerts through until early May 1905 (after which advertising ceases), likely closing it down as winter approached. By October that year the site had been turned into the Golden Gate Running Grounds, offering officially registered events for both professional and novice sprinters.

Image source: The Newsletter 4 Mar. (1905), 6.

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GRAND OPERA HOUSE: See Adelphi Theatre

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GUILD HALL

aka Academy of Music (1) / Gaiety Theatre

Gaiety Th Sydney - 1882 [CofSA](1875-ca.1895) Castlereagh Street.

Originally a Catholic Guild Hall, the venue was renovated and concerted into the Academy of Music in 1879. After four years of limited commercial success, however, it reverted back to its original name and use. After undergoing further renovations in 1880 (seating was also expanded to 800), the venue opened as the Gaiety Theatre on Boxing Day. Dan Tracey operated a successful season at the Gaiety in the early 1890s (1892-93) but it was never an overly popular venue. It was soon afterwards abandoned as an entertainment venue.

Image source: City of Sydney Archives.

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THE HIPPODROME

aka Wirth’s Hippodrome / Capital Theatre

(1909-1928) Corner of George and Campbell streets.

Hippodrome - Sydney 1915 [CofSA]The Hippodrome had formerly been occupied by the Sydney hay and cattle markets, and later the Belmore Markets. From 1900 onwards it had also been increasingly used for entertainments (including Cole’s Bohemian Dramatic Co). Wirth’s Circus opened for a season there in 1909 and took a 21 years lease. The council later erected a permanent building using materials from the old markets. It opened in 1916. Later used by various variety companies (including Clay’s Bridge Theatre Ltd) the Hippodrome was converted into the Capital Theatre in 1928.

Image: Hippodrome, 1915. Source: City of Sydney Archives.

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IMPERIAL OPERA HOUSE: See Opera House

KELLY & LEON’S OPERA HOUSE: See Opera House

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LAWLER’S MUSIC HALL

aka Sydney Music Hall

(1895-1896) 610 George Street (between Bathurst and Liverpool streets).

Built by John Lawler and opened on 2 November 1895, Lawler’s Music Hall was situated above shops in Lawler’s Building. The opening night bill included W. Horace Bent, Sam Rowley and Gus Franks. An ornately decorated hall the venue was Sydney’s largest music hall seating 1,000 people in an auditorium nearly one hundred feet long and forty feet wide. Considered to be at the wrong end of town it did not last beyond the end of 1896 and was up for auction in June 1897.

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LITTLE THEATRE: See Royal Standard Theatre

MAYFAIR THEATRE: See National Amphitheatre

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NATIONAL AMPHITHEATRE

aka Fullers’ Theatre / Roxy Theatre / Mayfair Theatre

(1906-1980) Castlereagh Street.

In 1906 James Brennan took over the lease of the National Sporting Club and converted it into a 5,000 seat vaudeville theatre. The “Nash” became part of the Fullers’ vaudeville circuit in 1912, but was renamed Fullers’ Theatre in 1919 following extensive alterations and a significant reduction in seating. The venue was converted it to a cinema and renamed the Roxy in 1930. Later known as The Mayfair it was bought by Hoyts in the mid-1950s. The cinema ceased operations in 1980 and four years later was demolished.

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OLYMPIC CIRCUS

aka Royal Marionette Theatre / Royal Albert Theatre / Albert Dancing Salon

(1851-ca. 1855) Castlereagh Street (south-west side, between Market and King streets).

In September 1851 J.S. Noble, director and proprietor of the travelling Olympic Circus organised with publican Peter Hook to set up an equestrian and gymnastics enclosure at the rear of the Painters Arms. The venue opened on the 22nd. In May 1852 the site was converted to a theatre, and as such operated for some two years, offering a variety of entertainments. It was became known as the Royal Marionette Theatre (during that company’s 1853 season) and as the Royal Albert Hall in 1854. Then owner Mr Astley, also used the site to auction horses. By the end of the year it had been converted into the Albert Dancing Salon.

1: The venue’s address was given as 273 Castlereagh Street in 1854. By the 1880s it was being advertised as 109 (or 111) Castlereagh Street. The Tivoli, which occupied the same, and several adjacent sites, is recorded as being 79-83 Castlereagh Street.
2: The Scandinavian Music Hall began operating from the same site in 1866, as did the Garrick Theatre between 1890 and 1893 (see the entries for these theatre below).
3: This Olympic Circus should not be confused with Lyceum Theatre, York Street, which was also known briefly as the Olympic Circus (1856-1857).

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OPERA HOUSE

aka Kelly and Leon’s Opera House / Imperial Opera House

(1879-1900) Corner of King and York streets.

Sydney Opera House - 1879 [Downes, 49]Built for American minstrels Edwin Kelly and Francis Leon, the 900 seat theatre was opened on Boxing Night 1879. Especially designed for variety and comic opera performances it was located on the first floor of a warehouse on the corner of King and York Streets (later the site of the Grace Brother’s building). The theatre underwent several renovations during its lifetime, one of the most significant occurring in 1892 when George Forbes re-opened it as the Imperial Opera House. The building was finally condemned in 1900.

Image source: Peter Downes. The Pollards (2002), 49.

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PLAYHOUSE THEATRE: See Royal Standard Theatre

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PRINCESS THEATRE

aka Bijou Picture Palace

(1911-ca. late-1920s) George Street (opposite Central Station).

Princess Theatre 1 - ClayThe Bijou Picture Palace was opened as the Princess Theatre in 1911 by West’s Pictures. Vaudeville entrepreneur J.C. Bain leased it from 1911 until 1914, the same year that it came under the control of Fullers’ Theatres. Two years later the theatre hosted the Stiffy and Mo‘s debut season. Between 1918 and 1926 the Princess became Harry Clay‘s city headquarters. Its demise occurred when the Marcus Clarke Company acquired the building in order to expand its George Street department store.

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ROYAL ALBERT THEATRE / ROYAL MARIONETTE THEATRE: See Olympic Circus

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ROYAL STANDARD

aka Empire / Clay’s Standard / Little Theatre / The Playhouse

(1886-1923). Castlereagh Street.

Built for the Royal Order of Foresters, the Royal Standard was a 1000-seat theatre. Its first lessee, Frank Smith, opened with a season of drama by Alfred Dampier’s company, and over the next four decades it hosted numerous amateur and “legitimate” theatricals (including Alfred Hill‘s 1917 comic opera The Raja of Shivapore) as well as vaudeville shows. During its lifetime the theatre was known variously as the Empire (1901-02), Clay’s Standard (1908-13), the Little Theatre (1913-16) and the Playhouse (1917-23). It was demolished in 1923.

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ROYAL VICTORIA THEATRE

Royal Victoria - Syd [NS, 10](1838-1880) Pitt Street (between King and Market Streets).

Built by Joseph Wyatt, the 1,900 seat Royal Victoria opened on 26 March 1838 with a production of Othello. For many years Sydney’s largest and most important theatrical venue, it hosted opera, comic opera, dramas, burlesques, pantomimes, minstrelsy, circus and other amusements until destroyed by fire in 1880. Among the best known lessees/managers associated with the theatre were Andrew Torning, Joseph Raynor, Samuel Coleville, Ralph Tolano, Richard Younge, George Coppin, John Bennett, and William S. Lyster. Variety companies to play there included the Backus Minstrels, the San Francisco Minstrels, Christy’s Minstrels and Harry Rickards‘ Star Comique Co.

Image source: Nellie Stewart. My Life’s Story (1923), 10.

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ROXY THEATRE: See National Amphitheatre

SPENCER’S ROYAL POLYTECHNIC: See Industry: Misc 1 (Amusements section)

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SCANDINAVIAN MUSIC HALL

aka Victoria Hall / Academy of Music [2]

(1866-1890) Castlereagh Street (south-west side between Market and King streets).

scandinavian-victoria-hall-sydney-1882-ss-25-aug-1912-5W.T. Johnson opened his Scandinavian Music Hall on 21 July 1866, with London comic singer Harry Winfield as headliner. The venue quickly became popular for staging burlesque, minstrelsy, comedies, and in later years melodrama. Following the destruction of the Victoria Theatre in Pitt Street (1880), the Scandinavian Hall’s management enlarged the venue and reopened it as the Victoria Hall on 1 September 1881. It was renamed the Academy of Music in 1882, with R.B. Lewis’s Mastodon Minstrels opening the new venue on 23 September. The Academy served as the Sydney home for Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels (1884-1888) before being condemned and abandoned. It was demolished in 1890 and replaced by the Garrick Theatre.

1: The same site had served as a venue for equestrian, dramatic and variety entertainments under different names between 1851 and ca. 1855 (see Olympic Circus [1]). Interestingly, the Bulletin newspaper was first published out of the Scandinavian Hall in 1880. Sydney’s first Tivoli Theatre (aka Garrick Theatre) also occupied the same site.
2: Most secondary sources, including the Sun (Sydney) 25 Aug. 1912, Valentine Day (1917), Leanne Richards (HAT Archive), and the Architecture Sydney website identify 1868 as the year the Scandinavian Hall opened. However, at that time it was merely re-opening after renovations. The names Scandinavian Music Hall and Scandinavian Hall were used interchangeably in both advertising and newspaper articles between 1869 and 1873. From 1874 the building was mostly known as the Scandinavian Hall.
3: The building was situated next door to a long-running hotel, known variously as the Painter’s Arms, Columbia Hotel and Victoria Hotel etc, and directly opposite the St James School. Scandinavian Lane (which no longer exists) was also nearby. It is unclear if the lane was located to the southern side of the building or at the rear of the theatre, however. See for example “Supposed Garroting CaseFreeman’s Journal 23 May (1874), 1.
Image: Victoria Hall, 1882. Source: Sun (Sydney) 25 Aug. 1912, 5.

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SYDNEY MUSIC HALL: See Lawler’s Music Hall

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TIVOLI THEATRE [1]

aka Garrick Theatre

Tivoli Th 1 - Syd [NLA](1890-1929) 79-83 Castlereagh Street.

Situated on the site formerly occupied by the Olympic Theatre, Royal Marionette Theatre, Scandinavian Hall, Victoria Hall, and Academy of Music, the Tivoli was opened as the Garrick Theatre on 22 December 1890. In February 1893 Harry Rickards took up the Garrick lease for his vaudeville operations, renaming it the Tivoli. When the building was destroyed by fire in 1899 he built a new theatre, opening it on 12 May the following year. Although aligned with the Tivoli circuit the theatre was in fact operated by several different management firms until J.C. Williamson’s Ltd closed it down in 1929.

1: See Scandinavian Music Hall for details relating to Sydney’s first Tivoli Theatre.
2: See Adelphi Theatre entry for details relating to Sydney’s second Tivoli Theatre.
Image source: National Library of Australia – (above) Tivoli Theatre; (below) Garrick Theatre, ca. 1890.

garrick-theatre-sydney-nla

TIVOLI THEATRE [2]: See Adelphi Theatre

VICTORIA HALL: See Scandinavian Music Hall

WORTH’S HIPPODROME: See Hippodrome

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Image citation details for entries without expanded biographies are noted at the bottom of the overview. All other image details are provided in the expanded PDF biographies.
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Published on April 9, 2011 at 12:33 am  Comments Off on Theatres/Venues 2a: Sydney