Kings Theatre

Werona Avenue,
Sydney, NSW 2072

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Additional Info

Architects: Guy Crick

Previous Names: New Empire Theatre

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Kings Theatre

Located in the north-west Sydney suburb of Gordon. The New Empire Theatre was opened in May 1924. It was equipped with a Christie 2Manual/8Ranks organ, which was opened on 14th October 1929 by organist Idwal Jenkins. For many years, the resident organist was Miss Valda Kersey.

In the 1930’s it was re-named Kings Theatre. Always independently operated, the Kings Theatre was closed in October 1963, and was demolished.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

johngleeson on November 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm

The Kings was on Werona Avenue between Robert Street and the park. A block of flats replaced it. In 1942 Guy Crick was hired to make alterations. He had designed quite a few homes in the surrounding suburbs as well as additions to the Pymble Golf Club. The Christie organ was premiered with the film “King Of Kings” with accompaniement by Mr. Jenkins. The film was preceded by a recital with songs by Leslie McCallum.

ianej on October 16, 2018 at 7:29 pm

The Gordon Theatre was built on the site of a former timber and fibro structure, Empire Pictures, that operated from 1919 until 1923. Alfred Blackmore was a director of Gordon Theatres Limited and his wife cut a ribbon joining the stage curtains at the opening ceremony on 24 April, 1924. The building provided seating for 1,362 and was used for various forms of live entertainment as well as films. By 1928 poor patronage forced a sale to Percival Garling (a later founder of Butler Air Transport) and the theatre was managed by his son Rus Garling. The management acquired a Christie theatre organ at a cost of £7,800. The organ had originally been ordered for the Lyceum theatre, Sydney, but there had been a delay in its installation. The rear wall of the theatre was removed and two chambers, 2m deep, were added at about 2m above stage level. The console was located directly in front of the stage, on a platform at floor level in the centre of the sunken orchestra pit. In 1934 the theatre was leased to the Kings chain of suburban cinemas, and new Art Deco adornment of the auditorium was undertaken. It was a condition of the lease that there be a weekly organ performance of at least 25 minutes. In February 1944 the theatre’s lease was transferred to Austral American Productions although the Kings name remained. By 1948 ownership passed from the Garlings to Oscar Shaft and in 1956 to M R A Pacey. By 1956 the organ had remained silent for some years. A new wide screen in front of the original proscenium, covering the former orchestra pit and Christie console, was installed in 1956 to cater for CinemaScope. The film, The Swan, was the first to be shown in CinemaScope at the Gordon Kings on 6 and 7 July 1956. The organ, which had been brought out and revived for about six months from July 1955, had badly deteriorated and in 1958 was sold to St Columbs Anglican Church, West Ryde. (Source: Rod Blackmore’s Australasian Theatre Organs, New South Wales section [online].)

ianej on October 16, 2018 at 7:29 pm

I remember seeing the John Wayne film Hatari at Gordon in 1963. The cinema closed on Saturday, 12 October 1963 with the films Nine Hours to Rama and The Lion. One of the photos shown on the ‘Photos’ page for this cinema shows those two films being advertised on the large rooftop advertising sign that was erected around the time CinemaScope was installed. That means the photo was taken in October 1963.

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