Savoy Theatre

Church Street and Globe Lane,
Wollongong, NSW 2500

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Savoy Theatre

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The third largest in the state, Wollongong is a port city 50 miles south of Sydney. The name means “Seas of the south” and may refer to the chain of spectacular surf beaches. Wollongong has a pioneering history in film presentation and the site where the Savoy Theatre stood was central to this.

The Church Street Picture Palace was an open air theatre built in 1911. In following years it was roofed, extensively remodeled and renamed, becoming the Globe Theatre in in 1915. In 1924 it was taken over by Henry Boland’s Wollongong Theatres circuit. Now named the New Globe Theatre it ran until 1935 when Boland had it demolished in order to build a luxurious new cinema.

The Savoy Theatre was designed by architects Crick and Furse in a style called “Continental Modern”. Seating was for 781 in the stalls and 321 in the lounge. opening film in December, 1936, was “Poor Little Rich Girl” starring Shirley Temple and a Pete Smith special in 3D. The souvenir program described interiors of pastel colors with three thousand feet of neon tubing and a canopy over the proscenium with multi-colored lights. The stage had a fly tower to accomodate sets for live productions of vaudeville, variety and musical shows.

The Illawarra Choral Society had planned to stage “Oklahoma!” but scrapped that when a department store bought the Savoy Theatre in 1963. Their plan was to demolish the theatre for construction of a parking lot. The final film, shown in September 1964, was a lurid grindhouse feature “Attack Of The Jungle Women” and then came the wreckers. The entire corner of Church Street and Globe Street was gone and with it 53 years of history.

History taken from the book “Gauffered Velour” by Robert Parkinson 1995 Published by Australian Theatre Historical Society

Contributed by john gleeson

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

johngleeson
johngleeson on October 1, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Many thanks to Jo Hogan and Lisa Matuzelis of the Local Studies Department at the Wollongong City Library for providing information and photographs.

BillyCooper
BillyCooper on November 13, 2013 at 5:22 am

Wow I do have some good mems of this savoy, Saturday afternoon flicks after getting my 2/– from mum then a packet of fags and a lucky dip bag then into the movie stand for the Queen, news, serial,3stooges,some times a cartoon. Then 2 (two)movies,and arms around the girls if we were allowed.

Bill Cooper now 65yrs of age

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