Mr Herbert arranged a first release contract with MGM from May 1932 to give his three theatres (Hamilton, Islington and Broadmeadow De-Luxe) exclusive rights to MGM films. This only lasted until November that year, when the three theatres were sold to Newcastle Amusements. Later, the Regent came under the control of Newcastle Theatres Ltd and in 1941/42 Hoyts acquired a major interest in that company.
The advent of television signalled the decline for the big picture theatres and, like many others, the Regent closed down in June 1964. By that time, seating capacity was 1,543. It is possible that Hoyts used the building as a store for a time after its closure. In 1968 a proposal to turn the cinema into a dance hall fell through. In August 1969, S and A Harrison purchased the property and converted it into a supply store for builders and renovators. Although the exterior and interior remained virtually unaltered, the street awning was removed. The earthquake of 1989 caused some damage to the curved parapet at the front and rear stage wall.
This beautiful building has since been restored and repainted externally, but is in need of some major renovation inside to repair the cracked paster, peeling paint and general damaged caused by water & termites.
Despite the ware & tear on the building, it remains a rare excellent example of a 1920s style movie theatre & every effort should be made to preserve it for future generations to enjoy & dream about what it was like going to the movies when the industry was in it’s infancy. People getting dressed up in their finest maybe even being chauffeur driven to the theatre for a night of entertainment, sipping Champagne with the A listers.
The building was considered by the State heritage Register listings committee in 2008 and found to have state heritage significance but not acted upon any further.
There are currently shops leasing space in the downstairs sections of the building.
Thank you to the NSW Gov. Office of Environment & Heritage. Visit their site for the fully story on this fascinating building.
Special Thanks to the University of Newcastle for allowing us to use the original blue prints of the building from their Living Histories Archives
Special Thanks to Steven Szabath for making the journey to get the external photos that I had forgotten to take & to Erin Kemmis for the internal photos.
A great big Thanks also to the University of Newcastle for allowing us to use the original blue prints of the building from their Living Histories Archives. https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/83339
Living histories home page https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/