Starlight Cinema

Colombo Street and Hereford Street,
Christchurch

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The Starlight Cinema, on the corner of Colombo and Hereford Streets, was opened on May 29, 1916 as a continuous cinema, 11am to 10.15pm. Known as the �Picture Theatre Beautiful� admission was 6d (5c) for adults and 3d (2c) for children. Of the opening �The Press� reported that a large crowd had gathered an hour before opening time (2pm) and that they took up both the footpath and part of the roadway.

On June 2, of the same year, the management appeared before the Magistrates Court on charges of using an unlicensed theatre. It was alleged that the company, Starlight Limited, had opened the theatre without providing certain hand rails in the dress circle, and fire appliances. For the company, it was stated that all the requirements of the Christchurch City Council had been fulfilled with the exception of the hand rails, notice to erect having been given at the last moment. The Court conceded that the Company had been placed under difficulties at the last moment by the City Council, but had shown every desire to meet the law. A technical breach had, however been committed and the company was fined 10s ($1) on each count.

The Managing Director of Crystal Palace Limited, Mr V M Beebe, announced on July 12, that it would erect a new cinema in Cathedral Square. By August Mr Beebe announced that the company had secured half the shareholdings in two Christchurch cinemas for a takeover. The names of the two cinemas at the time were not revelled.

The Starlight closed on October 9 to carry out the required alterations as well as installation of a new stage and screen. When it reopened a week later it was taken over by Crystal Palace Limited.

Just two years after it had been opened, the Starlight closed down for the final time on August 3rd, 1918. In later years the cinema was demolished. Today the site is occupied by the Bank of New Zealand.

Contributed by Bradley Knewstubb
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