474 Hay Street,
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Regal Theatre, Subiaco (Official)
Firms: Baxter-Cox & Leighton
Functions: Live Theatre
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Regal Theatre and Picture Gardens
Located in the Subiaco district of Perth. It was built on the site of the Coliseum Theatre and Picture Gardens which had opened in December 1916. The Regal Theatre opened on the 27th April, 1938 with a topical film "Love Under Fire" set during the Spanish Civil War, which was raging at the time. The supporting film was "Shall We Dance" with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Designed by well known architect William G. Bennett, out of the office of William T. Leighton of Baxter-Cox & Leighton, the exterior design of the Regal Theatre is unique in Western Australia. The circular tower, which is the building’s most prominent feature, gives cognisance to the corner site and establishes a pleasing relationship with the building on the opposite side. Hence the Regal Theatre is the only cinema still standing in Western Australia which opens onto an intersection. Because of the concern with symmetry, the facade facing Rokeby Road has a large area of false walling, including false windows, simply to balance the volume of the bio box on the opposidte side. The central axis of the facade and foyer is situated on a diagonal, whereas the auditorium runs parallel to Rokeby Road, with an unequal face to each street. The two-tiered half-cylindrical tower features aspects of horizontal and vertical detailing, which is accented with ribbed bands supporting the verticality of the stepped "banner" holding the flashing neon sign. This lettering has changed in the intervening years.
Soon after opening, the Regal Picture Gardens was opened across the road at the corner of Rokeby Road and Hay Street. The Regal Picture Gardens had 750 seats. In 1946 the Regal Theatre was sold to Clarence ‘Paddy’ Baker, whose family have been associations with the site since the Coliseum Picture Gardens days. No history of the building would be complete without a mention of the veteran picture showman who had been associated with the industry since childhood. Paddy ran the Regal Theatre until he died in 1986, leaving his beloved theatre to the people of Western Australia.
The Regal Picture Gardens was closed in 1971 and was demolished in 1973 to build shops on the site. Since 1987, the Regal Theatre has been used as a live theatre. The Regal Theatre is listed with the National Trust and with the Australian Heritage Commission.
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