1116 Botany Road,
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Located in the south Sydney suburb of Botany, close to todays' Sydney International Airport. The Empire Theatre was built in 1920, on the site of an open air theatre which only operated for three years. The new theatre had a sleek Spanish style with a centre tower effect and stained glass windows. It was operated by members of the Siddins family – James Siddins was the five term mayor of Botony. It was an architectural highlight along with the grand old Captain Cook Hotel next door.
Five Ways Theatres, partially owned by Greater Union, took over in the 1940’s. Botany was like a friendly small town and residents had good memories of life there. One woman wrote about Sher Hickey, the operator of the Empire Theatre in the 1950’s, who ran an unscheduled Charlton Heston film as a favor when he found she had missed it. Don’t expect that at a multiplex today!
Chris Papandreas was the final operator who closed the Empire Theatre on 8th February 1965. The last show was Sean Connery in “Dr. No” and “The Monster That Challenged the World”. The Empire Theatre was used for storage for several years, and it was demolished in 1972. Jenny MacRichie, Heritage Librarian for the City of Botany Bay kindly provided photographs of collages made from old advertisements and including a sad shot of the half-demolished theatre.
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