Prince of Wales Theatre
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Opened in 1922 and seating 2,300, the Prince of Wales Theatre was Perth’s first genuine picture palace of the silent era. At the time of its opening, its competitors were much smaller and far less ostentatious, despite their names -Britannia (1915), Grand (1916), Majestic (1917), Pavilion (1921) and Palladium (1921).
Built by Sir Thomas Coombe on the site of the former Melrose Theatre, the Prince of Wales was an elegantly handsome theatre in the late-Edwardian style, with the large auditorium featuring an elaborately moulded balcony.
The Prince of Wales offered movie-goers a full orchestra and specialty acts presented by a resident troupe of vaudevillians. In 1929, with the presentation of “The Jazz Singer”, it became the first theatre in Perth to install sound equipment (Western Electric).
Later, management decided that the theatre would only screen British films and it promoted itself as “Perth’s All British Theatre”.
Lavish foyer displays were a Prince of Wales trademark, and there was a strong focus on customer service. Possibly unique was the theatre’s refrigerator service. Shoppers could leave their perishables with the attendant, while they went in to enjoy the movie. The attendant was employed solely to operate the service and guard the refrigerator which was located in the foyer itself. With Perth’s scorching summer temperatures, this was a canny initiative on management’s part.
Regrettably, the Prince of Wales did not enjoy the lifespan it deserved. In 1935, just 13 years after its construction, it was demolished to make way for a new department store.
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