Rialto Theatre

Pope Street & Devlin Street,
Ryde, NSW 2112

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Rialto Theatre

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The City of Ryde and its 16 suburbs is about 8 miles northwest of city centre Sydney. Local businessmen were quick to build movie theatres including Drummoyne grocer Gus Bowe. He bought and sold land and built a few theatres, then leaving the business.

But in 1930 he came back with big ideas and built the Rialto Theatre at the corner of Pope Street and Devlin Street. It opened in January 1932. Because of the odd shaped lot, architects McCredie & Evans created an unusual theatre with a floodlit forecourt flanked by brick towers and a second row of gates topped with seahorses. The exterior brickwork was multi-coloured and the roof sported blue and green tiles.

The interior seated 1,480 (later reduced to 984) and featured a stadium style. The ceiling displayed a large Maltese cross, and some wondered if the Rialto Theatre was intended for church use too. It was quite an investment after the Depression.

Gus Bowe’s partner was his brother James who ran the Rialto Theatre after Gus died. In 1960, the Rialto Theatre was demolished for expansion of the Top Ryde Mall.

Contributed by john gleeson
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