Lawson Theatre

Lawson Square and Gibbons Street,
Sydney, NSW 2016

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Lawson Theatre

A large, forgotten inner city theatre. City records show a filing to acquire land to build a theatre at Lawson Square in July 1925. The Lawson Theatre’s early history included a series of lawsuits over payments for sound systems. The theatre was owned by W.Dunk of Coogee but operated by Albert Dalwood.

In December 1931 the theatre held the premiere of Norman Dawn’s “Showgirl’s Luck”, the first locally produced All Talking, All Singing extravaganza. It received poor reviews and criticism for the primitive sound on disc system. The Lawson Theatre ran as a typical neighbourhood cinema offering double bills of action movies with Saturday cartoons and serials for the kids.

In 1959 Chris Louis, a Greek immigrant who was very successful in real estate, started leasing theatres to show Greek and Italian films. He leased the Lawson Theatre for one night for $200 and then took a five year lease. He also leased or owned the Odeon Darlinghurst, the Marina Rosebery, the Hoyts Enmore, the Doncaster Kingsford, the Kings Marrickville.

The business didn’t last and rising land prices meant the demolition of many city area theatres. Lawson Square was sold to Thomas National Transport who built twin towers in 1971. The City’s portfolio valueses the land alone at AU$10,400,000.

Contributed by john gleeson

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Retik44 on February 3, 2013 at 9:23 am

I went to the Lawson sometimes with school friends in the 1950s. Does anyone remember the Redfern Empire on Cleveland and Walkers Sts.?

oldsilver on August 4, 2013 at 11:14 pm

I went to almost every Sat' afternoon matinee with my sister from Late 1949 until 1953. The manager used to on the odd occasion have money scrambles. He threw pennies and halfpennies into the crowd of kids who would gather outside in walker st. It was a form of advertising to attract kids to the Empire. I also recall the cashier, she was short tempered and had her hair piled atop her head and would closely check the 2 shilling coins as there were forgeries of some of these coins at the time. Lots of good memories and a great old cinema, and the building is still there.

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