Beverley Theatre, Rosalie

This time I followed the clues to Rosalie looking for the old Beverley Theatre – and stumbled across a fashionista’s dream.

By now I was months deep in cinema research. Since finding the old Rialto and Plaza theatres, I had become obsessed. I was constantly looking for other buildings that had at one time or another been picture theatres – in town, in the suburbs, it didn’t matter where.

I manically made lists, started spreadsheets, did stakeouts (often cut short thanks to the crying infant in my back seat), poured over old photos from the SLQ, bugged my father senseless with questions and basically tried to find out everything that had ever been and might (just might) still be.

These rare discoveries, often masked by urban growth and major renovations, became more than just old buildings to me. They became “the hidden cinemas of Brisbane” and finding one still intact was a major thrill. Architecture was the key, heritage-listed features were the clues, and oh, if those walls could talk!

During the course of my very professional pretty amateur research I knew that Rosalie had theatres back in the day, but I had no names and no locations. Then I came across a listing for the Rosalie School of Arts and I thought, what the hey, a community hall seemed like a good enough place to start, especially since many old halls had been outfitted to screen movies over the years. Had this one?

Rosalie School of Arts Copyright State Library of Qld

Rosalie School of Arts Brisbane, 1938, State Library of Queensland, #33769

 

I went looking for an address. Some records for suburban cinemas were nothing more than a vague reference (“next to the greengrocer”) or an undistinguishable picture, making the comparison between then and now extremely difficult and almost always leaning towards demolition.

But no, this one pointed me towards Nash Theatre Company, an acting troupe who had a working history of the building since they had called it their home for several years. The website was a good starting point: “Having been, at different times throughout its history, a kindergarten, election centre, flood refuge, dance hall and even a movie theatre (during WWII), The Beverley Theatre (or “Bev”) was brought back from neglect by the inspiration of (theatre designer) Godfrey Bathurst.”

Bingo. I had found my target. A name (the Beverley Theatre), a location (8 Nash St) and it was still in use today. Now for the big question: had it been rendered beyond identification or would I recognise my prize? Google Maps soon confirmed it… we got one! I grabbed Kristina to take some shots and we were on our way.

Rosalie School of Arts

Built in 1928, the Rosalie School of Arts initially opened as a war memorial to commemorate those from the district who gave their lives in World War 1. By 1942, the hall had been transformed into the 300-seat Beverley Theatre until circa 1957, after which point it was home to the Ithaca RSL for the next 60 years.

In his paper Rosalie – Brisbane’s Forgotten Daughter, A. T Miles writes:

“The hall was opened in July 1928 by the Mayor of Brisbane, Alderman Jolly. It contains a large hall, small meeting rooms and two shops for rent. For many years it became the Beverley Theatre three times a week when the pictures were on, but this function ceased about 1957… Before the advent of the Beverley there had been the open-air pictures Bungalow Picture Palace directly opposite, run by Mr J.J. Ross. Another open-air show was the Arcadia on the corner of Haig Road and Torwood Street. Other open-air theatres in surrounding suburbs eventually became “hard-tops”, but all have since closed.”

Rosalie School of Arts

Eventually I found the Reminisce in Rosalie – Brisbane Heritage Trails and it confirmed what Miles had written:

From about 1914, Rosalie had its own outdoor picture theatre, the ‘Bungalow Picture Palace’. It was situated near the corner of Nash Street and Baroona Road beside Alfred Bouthan’s blacksmith store and shop… The flourishing film industry in both America and Australia assured the Rosalie audience a variety of silent films. By 1918 the name of the theatre had changed to ‘Crown Picture Palace’. It continued to show films until 1921 when the theatre closed. From 1942, on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights, the ‘Beverley Theatre’ was run from the Rosalie School of Arts. In the era before television, the 300-seat picture theatre provided entertainment for Rosalie residents. By 1957, perhaps due to decreased patronage caused by the introduction of television to Australia in 1956, the Beverley Theatre had closed.

In addition to housing the Nash St Theatre Company, the site has been used in recent years first as a gym and now as the clearance outlet for Maryon’s Shoes clearance outlet. When the designer footwear salon moved in four years ago, the building’s owner also erected an internal wall to split the upper space into two tenancies, with the other half now occupied by a yoga studio.

Aesthetically, the reno makes for a charming effect, as I discovered when I returned with Paul to take some internal photos a few weeks later. The original timber trusses have been left to zigzag, exposed, across the pitched ceiling while the lovely checkerboard timber panelling added in decades later mirrors the original effect. It’s a striking backdrop to display the likes of Givenchy, Armani, Christian Lacroix and Dolce & Gabbana stilettos and strappy sandals and it is hard to remember this is only the outlet store for sale stock.

Even more exciting? The stage apparently still exists out the back, but is now closed up as a store room for the mountains of shoes.

Rosalie School of Arts

Rosalie School of Arts

Rosalites, never fear – while this quaint box might no longer be operational as a picture theatre, you still have the charming Blue Room Cinebar above the restaurants across the road!

* Photography: Kristina Childs for Cinemazzi.com. Interior shots: Paul Walton.

Do you have any memories of the Beverley Theatre or any other cinema in Rosalie? Got any tips on where we can find an old picture theatre? Let us know in the comments below!

THE HIDDEN CINEMAS PROJECT

Once used as cinemas, these iconic pieces of architecture are living reminders of weekend trips to the “pictures”.

Part 1: Rialto Theatre, West End

Part 2: The Plaza, Paddington

Part 3: Beverley Theatre, Rosalie

Part 4: Planet Cinema, Camp Hill

Part 5: Triumph Theatre, East Brisbane

Part 6: De-Luxe Theatre, Burleigh Heads

Part 7: Kings Theatre, Rose Bay

Part 8: Victory Theatre, Blackheath

the author

Marie C

Feature writer by trade, movie maniac by night, Marie-Christine grew up watching films from the projection booth at the local drive-in and now she's lucky enough to write about them.

13 comments

  1. Great story Marie! I went to the gym there circa 2005 and had no idea of the old girl’s history. Love learning more about my home town!

    1. Thanks Emma!! I don’t know why but there is just this magic to learning an old building used to be a cinema or picture theatre, back when it was such an outing to go to the pictures and the films they screened then were so glamorous. Must have been a pretty cool gym!

  2. Hi Marie! I also enjoy hunting old cinema locations, it seemed like every single suburb had one back in the day. My back seat has three little people so most times I’m stuck trawling the internet. Last month whilst getting my haircut, the ancient barber told me that Ashgrove once had a cinema, but it got converted to shops and then burnt down (mysteriously!). It was called The Elita. Sadly, you won’t find any evidence left of its existence. I haven’t even seen any photos. Cheers and good luck! PS- have you seen the recently renovated and reopened New Farm Six???

  3. I lived in Beard St Auchenflower from 1946 to 1950 and went to the Milton State School. My mates and I used to go to the Bev on a Saturday arvo to see Tarzan, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry etc. Great memories.

    1. Wow they must have been great times! Would love to know what you think about the way the building looks now – a lot different to back then, but that ceiling must be almost the same!

    2. We lived at 114 Beck Street, Rosalie and my brother Graham and I went to Milton State School..We loved going to the flicks on Saturday. The serials, cartoons and movies. Do you remember the blacksmith almost opposite the theatre? The fish and chip shop and there was a bakery opposite the school. Greig’s Chemist and I first saw television when we used to walk to the fruit shop near the school and stand and watch Sea Hunt.. Such a wonderful time growing up in Rosalie.

      1. I can only imagine how lovely it would have been to grow up in that area Lorraine, I grew up on the northside and I don’t remember ever visiting when I was younger. But now each time I visit Rosalie, I always admire the lovely touches of character it has managed to retain around the suburb. I wish there was something like the Beverley now to take my children to on a Saturday!

  4. Hi

    I am the granddaughter of the owner of the land on which the Bungalow Picture Pavilion operated behind the blacksmith shop near the corner of Nash St Rosalie, Brisbane. I have the original lease dated 16 February 1914 from my grandfather Patrick John Little to Richard Francis Stephens. The rent was one pound five shillings per week whilst the picture show is in operation and fifteen shillings a week whilst the picture show is closed. There is a lease plan/sketch attached to the lease. As you say the land is opposite the School of Arts & round the corner from the current Blue Room cinema. My grandfather operated a grocer shop on the corner of Nash and Baroona Rd, and the blacksmith shop and the open air cinema were on the balance of my Grandfathers land.
    On teh 30th June 1915 the lease was assigned to Joan Charles Hill and John Joseph Ross. Cheers Beverley Scott

  5. Hi
    I jus t sent you an email about the Roaslie Bunagalow Picture Pavilion on my grandfathers land. You may or may not be interested to know my father was a founding member of what was called the Qld Cine Society ( I think it went on to be called Movie Makers.) It was for amatuer film makers. My father filmed on 16 mm and showed his movies, and other Qld Cine Society member home made movies, and commercial movies, lkie Disney cartoons, for free to his dental patients, at venues like the Brisbane City Hall and the Roaslie School of Arts from about 1940’s to mid 1960’s. He was very interested in his film hobby but the idea of showing the movies for free was a way of promoting his business. Cheers Beverley Scott

  6. i found your website quite by accident while looking for the location of what i think was the embassy theatre, in possibly duncan st, the valley, where i saw a children’s film in the early 1960s called magic boy, one of the first anime films from japan to be released in the west. no luck there, but your story about the plaza theatre reminded me that i never went to that one but my brother, robin, and i did regularly attend the saturday matinees at the paddington theatre from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s. and your story about the beverly theatre also struck a chord; i only went there once, where i saw a film called superman in scotland yard (which was a compilation of three episodes of the tv show). i also attended milton state school (from 1955 to 1962) and the name of one of your correspondents, lorraine mundy (gee) was familiar to me even after all those years. so thank you for evoking pleasant memories of the past which are, unfortunately, tinged with sadness at the loss of some of the great cinemas of those times.

    1. Lovely to hear your stories David! And to find another patron of the Beverly Theatre and Paddington Theatre, it’s so nice to hear how strong everyone’s memories are of our old picture theatres 🙂

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