157-161 Haldon Street,
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Lakemba is a small suburb with the City Of Canterbury, about nine miles from central Sydney. Haldon Street is the main business street and the logical place for a theatre. The Magnet Theatre was preceded by Spencer’s Picture Palace and as the Palace Theatre was home to local singers, comedians, stage groups and a ballet.
In 1928 Arthur Britz decided Lakemba needed a beautiful big cinema and built the new Magnet Theatre. The location was great except it ran uphill so substantial excavation was called for. Architects Kaberry and Chard designed the theatre backwards so the “front” on Haldon Street was really the back of the stage. By re-orienting the building they had the right slope for the stalls.
The entrance was in an adjunct on the left side. Past the plate-glass doors was a lobby with a grand staircase leading to the circle. Stalls entrances were on either side of this. As patrons weren’t used to entering a theatre built this way the stage was recessed in a swooping alcove with windows.
Arthur Britz with partner J.P.Cloonan built the smaller Royal Theatre several blocks north of the Magnet Theatre. In 1951 they sold both to Greater Union. Large theatres proved to be a liability in the TV age and the Magnet Theatre was demolished in 1960.
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