Wintergarden Theatre

622 New South Head Road,
Sydney, NSW 2029

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 Wintergarden Auditorium. A second view.

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The Wintergarden Theatre, in the Sydney up-market suburb of Rose Bay (next to Double Bay), opened on 24th February 1928.

The theater was built in true picture palace style, although its entrance vestibule and exterior were quite austere. The auditorium was decorated in the usual semi-classical style of architect Henry White (who worked with American John Eberson on the Sydney Capitol Theatre).

In June 1929, the Wintergarden became the first Sydney suburban theater to install sound equipment for the ‘talkies’. The projection equipment chosen was ‘Raycophone’ – the Australian invention of Ray Allsop, chief engineer at a Sydney radio station, 2BL.

The Wintergarden continued to delight local audiences for the next six decades, including famous Australian director Peter Weir, who is said to have attended the theater as a young boy. In 1987, however, after exhaustive protests to save the theater, it was finally demolished.

An apartment building now stands on the Wintergarden’s site overlooking Sydney Harbour.

Contributed by John Adey

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

PAULB
PAULB on January 3, 2004 at 5:49 am

One of Sydney’s most infamous demolitions in the ‘vandalism for profit’ category in the 80s, THE WINTERGARDEN is now the subject of much disgust and awe by a new generation of 30 year olds who cannot believe this gorgeous cinema was destroyed. I wandered through the intact cinema in 1986 which was left open so it could be vandalised. So I photographed it all and now I show everyone I can. I souveniered ANYTHING I wanted. The two main reasons for the loss of this astonishing 2100 seat venue, simply is that the very wealthy clientiele of Rose Bay and nearby would drive right past it to see the same film in the city. The other was the ‘Mr Burns’ personality of the last old manager who would regularly make destructive statements to the media that the theatre was crummy and not worth saving. Thanks to him, the heritage value was diminished and eventually through bad programming and shoddy customer service it closed. The new owners got a re development consent passed and then sold the site for a huge sum. Disgraceful conduct by wealthy bastards all round.
The other sites that were the Sydney demoilitions of appalling vandalism were: The 2100 seat gothic masterpiece Summer Hill Grosvenor 1930-70, The snazzy deco deluxe 2000 seater Ashfield Hoyts 1926/38-1974, The Manly Embassy/Odeon and of course exquisite The Prince Edward in the City. Horror!
PAUL BRENNAN .au

mrt1924
mrt1924 on April 28, 2005 at 9:05 pm

Hi Paul

Do you have any photo’s of the interior of this theatre before it was tragically demolished?

I think this is a stupid question but couldn’t the council have it re-built?

PAULB
PAULB on April 29, 2005 at 6:25 am

Dear Rex. Councils do not re create demolished picture palaces. Yes they literally could have, but why would they? It is the wrong way to spend ratepayers money, and the Wintergarden would have cost millions to re create. I have never heard of any council doing that. Anyway, this council approved its demolition which is how the new owner was able to have a redevelopment passed and its destruction sealed. Yes I do have photos if you want a copy. send me an email with an address and I will send them you. Email address above. Be warned, you will be outraged. PAUL

JoCatherine
JoCatherine on May 2, 2011 at 12:03 am

Hi Paul
I would love to see some of the pics you took as well. I would like to add Sydney’s Regent Theatre to your list as well. Jo

Eric GLASBY
Eric GLASBY on September 30, 2011 at 4:16 am

Good on you (PAUL BRENNAN) a dear friend and a devoted Cinema and theatre buildings officiado.

I attened the WINTERGARDEN regularly in the latter Fifties/early Sixties and helped to clean after the Saturday Matinees from 1957 thru 1959.

A beautiful site which always presented Double Bill programs which ran from Saturday to Friday which apart from consisting of First Class films, also gave great value.

Truly, one of the most tragic losses the responsible Sydney business and other reps. should forever be ashamed of.

Eric Glasby New South Wales, AUSTRALIA

brucek
brucek on January 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I attended boarding school at Bellevue Hill between 1956 and 1963 and, as a “senior” in my latter years, and therefore eligible for day passes, I visited the Wintergarden quite often. Such a shame to see it demolished.

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