Theatres/Venues 3a: Brisbane



aka Ascot Theatre

(ca 1921-1949, 1953-1969) Cnr of Racecourse Road and Kent Road (directly opposite Windermere Rd).

In 1923 Mrs E. Williams acquired the site on which an Arcadia Theatre had been operating since at least 1921 and rebuilt it as a 3,000 seat horseshoe-shaped picture house. From 1929 to 1931 it was operated by an as-yet unidentified proprietor. After its purchase by Lyric Theatres Ltd in 1931 the Arcadia was renovated given a sound projector. Ascot Theatres Pty Ltd then operated the cinema from 1935 until 1949. After being the demolished the site lay vacant until for several years. A new theatre, the Ascot, opened on 22 January 1953 and operated until 1969 under the ownership of Savoy Pictures. Although primarily a picture theatre, the Arcadia/Ascot nevertheless presented live entertainments at various times. These included vaudeville, between-films acts, jazz bands, pantomimes, theatrical productions and community singing radio broadcasts.

1. The Courier Mail records in early-1953 that the first Arcadia Theatre was established in 1912 (“Theatre Night for Red Cross.” 14 Jan. 1953, 5). No evidence supporting this claim has yet been located.
2. Mrs E. Williams was a former vaudevillian who worked professionally as Eva Lee between ca. 1897 and 1916. From around 1907 she presented an act billed as Eva Lee and her two piccaninnies.”
3. Among the biggest names to work the Arcadia stage were D.B. O’Connor, The Gilberts, Grace Quine, and Jenny Howard.
4. The final film screened at the Ascot was It’s a Mad Mad World.” A supermarket and chemist shop now stand on the site.
Image source: Telegraph (Brisbane) 16 July 1935, 21.



Tivoli Gardens - Hamilton [BC 12 Apr1907, 2]

(1907-1921) Racecourse Road, opposite Hamilton Wharf.

Located on Hamilton Rd (now Kingsford Smith Drive) and running through to Allan Street, the Tivoli Gardens was built by actress/entertainer and manager Bella Sutherland. It opened on 30 March 1907 with Ward Lear heading the company and with Brisbane’s Mayor and Mayoress in attendance. Later known simply as the Tivoli the venue presented film and variety programs, with the proprietress often appearing on stage. Following Sutherland’s death in 1918 the theatre was run by her husband George Gibson. He sold the property and effects at auction in 1921.


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. For information concerning copyright issues see “Copyright” attachment in the AVTA “About” page.

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Published on April 16, 2011 at 8:03 am  Comments Off on Theatres/Venues 3a: Brisbane