Ambassadors Theatre

625 Hay Street,
Perth, WA 6000

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interior from rear of balcony

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened 29 Sep 1928 with Dolores Costello in “Glorious Betsy”, it was designed by noted American theatre architect John Eberson. The local architects were Bohringer, Taylor and Johnson. The Ambassadors Theatre was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ which was opened by organist Les Waldron. Originally built for Union Theatres, it was taken over by Hoyts Theatre in the 1930’s, and over the years they removed many of the statues and other decoration. The Wurlitzer organ was removed in 1946, to be installed in the Regent Theatre, Melbourne, which had been destroyed by fire.

This beautiful theatre closed without any fanfare on 2nd Feb 1972 with Sean Connery in “Diamonds Are Forever”, and was demolished. Wanamba Arcade was built on the site, and this included the 750 seat, Hoyts Cinema Two, which opened in 1973.

Contributed by Graeme McBain, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

barryinperth
barryinperth on June 28, 2011 at 1:13 am

The demise of Perth’s Ambassadors was regrettably a ‘landmark’ moment in the ‘progressive’ destruction of Perth’s architectural heritage that commenced in the late 1960s and continued well into the 1980s.

Very few of Perth’s citizens are aware today of the lost vibrancy of the central block of Hay Street due to the loss of its cinemas. This was before before it became a pedestrian mall, and this compact 180-metre stretch was, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, home to six cinemas – three on the north side (Piccadilly, Plaza, Savoy) and three on the south (Capri, Royal, Ambassadors). At around 10.30pm each evening, thousands of cinema goers would exit these cinemas, crowd the pavements and create a real sense that this was the true hub of entertainment in Western Australia’s capital.

In addition, nearby on William, Barrack and Murray Streets, cinema goers were exiting the Metro, Liberty and Grand theatres respectively. These nine cinemas collectively defined Perth after dark. Today, just one of these cinemas survives as an operating concern – The Piccadilly on Hay Street.

The loss of our Central Business District cinemas has robbed Perth of much of its vibrancy. And today, all of the CBD multi-screen complexes established from the mid-70s have also gone. It’s a sad reflection of today’s era where suburban multiplexes dominate, robbing the central city of what was once a vital component of its economic and social fabric.

3D70
3D70 on July 30, 2011 at 7:25 am

Greg Lynch said… For those who believe that theatres have souls I mourn the destruction and passing of the Ambassadors. As a youngster while working for 20th Century Fox, every Thursday I delivered the latest Movietone News-reel to Hoyts Ambassadors Theatre, then crossing opposite with a news-reel change to the wonderful Art Deco flagship known as the Hoyts Plaza Theatre. It was in the front stalls of the Ambassadors Theatre during 1954 that I first experienced Cinemascope & Sterophonic sound with the screening of “The Robe”. and now after a lifetime of working in the Motion Picture Industry I look back with warm appreciation to the Golden Era and know we have lost something very special with the passing of our wonderful Picture Palaces..Greg Lynch

barryinperth
barryinperth on September 15, 2013 at 3:32 am

It’s hard to believe it’s now over 40 years since Perth’s mighty AMBASSADORS was demolished. Had it been preserved, it could well have become Perth’s long-awaited lyric theatre, hosting the big touring musicals. Instead, these go to a barn at the Crown Casino. But we chose to destroy it. As a society we had myopia – and, regrettably, greed for the fast buck. Not much has changed.

barryinperth
barryinperth on December 27, 2014 at 1:56 am

Since my last post, Perth’s CBD has become ‘cinema-less’. The Piccadilly Theatre closed its doors late in 2013, and was briefly used as a live performance venue for the hugely successful FRINGE WORLD Festival early in 2014. It has been ‘dark’ since. Ironically, the only ‘cinema’ now operating in the city is the pop-up Rooftop Movies on the top floor of a City of Perth carpark. It’s operated by Artrage, the parent body of FRINGE WORLD, and screens classic and recent releases from November through to March.

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on May 31, 2015 at 1:12 am

There was an auction in the Ambassadors Theatre a few days after it closed! The Rooftop Movies is not the only operating cinema in the city,there is also Cinema paradiso,Moonlight outdoor picture gardens(in Kings Park,part of the year),Club X(formally barbarellas)after moving from the Savoy theatre to Barrack Street,and a picture gardens in East Perth(near Plain Street,across from Langley Park(I think?).),i don’t remember the name of the place,it only opened last year(I think?).

barryinperth
barryinperth on June 20, 2015 at 1:35 am

David, you are right, of course. Cinema Paradiso in James Street, Northbridge (one of the Luna Palace Cinemas) is an oasis! In my earlier post, I was trying to stress the fact that within the old CBD there are no longer any cinemas screening first releases.

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on July 7, 2015 at 11:15 pm

There is s picture and articules about the auction in the Daily News newspaper(5/2/1972-page 5)and the West Australian(5/2/1972-pages 1 and 10). There is also an articule about the Ambassadors Theatre in the West Australian(Today section-2/6/2010-pages 6 and 7).

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on July 26, 2015 at 11:21 pm

There is picture of the Ambassadors Theatre in the book “Lost Perth volume 2”(page 103) showing the outside of the theatre and most of the neon sign lit up at night. Judging by the title underneath the neon sign(State fair 1962 version), it must be no earlier than 1962!

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on May 27, 2016 at 1:07 am

Two of the stores there now are Pottery barn, and Pottery barn For kids. I don’t remember the names of the other three stores?

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on August 10, 2016 at 12:30 am

The address for Pottery Barn is 625 Hay Street. and Pottery Barn For kids is 635 Hay Street.

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