44-48 Pier Street,
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Architects: V.G. Cook
Previous Names: Altona Picture Theatre
Located in the southwest Melbourne district of Altona, at the corner of Queen Street and Pier Street. In 1927 tenders were called for the erection of a new purpose-built picture theatre by V.G. Cook, architect & engineer. The tender provided for a small brick picture theatre with seating for 400. The client was the Altona Picture Theatre Company. Tenders closed 13th June 1927 at the price of £18,000.00. The theatre would be known as the Altona Picture Theatre. Approval was granted in July 1927 and the theatre opened later that year.
During 1939 the Altona Picture Theatre was acquired by George Kirby. By 1946 there was a name change to Strand Theatre. For George Kirby this was another link in his chain of picture theatres, located in one of Victoria’s seaside suburbs.
June 1950 saw the Altona Theatre in trouble with the authorities. The Argus Newspaper reported in June 1950 “that the proprietor and manager of the Strand Theatre, Altona, was fined a total of £37 at Williamstown Court yesterday. Edward Alexander Meldrum, Health Department inspector, said he found the theatre on 3rd December that "Highly inflammable film cuttings were loose in the rewind room, auxiliary lamps at two exits were not burning, an exit door was nailed up, an exit door had unapproved fastenings”. R. Williams, manager, was fined £5 for not having the auxiliary lights burnings, and £20 for not storing the film in fireproof containers. George Kirby the theatre proprietor was fined £2 for the nailed up door, and £10 for unapproved door fastenings".
The theatre suffered a serious fire on the afternoon of 1st July 1954. It was reported that damage was estimated at £500.00, although it was hoped to have the theatre opened that night. Three firemen had narrow escapes from falling material in the fire, heavy chandeliers and plaster sheeting fell from the ceiling to the stalls, and that the theatre screen, amplifier and a large section of the stage and back wall had been destroyed.
Film Weekly reported that the stage, screen and equipment had been destroyed, and that a temporary screen had been erected. The fire was said to have been caused by a careless patron’s cigarette butt.
The refurbished Strand Theatre continued to operate under George Kirby without further incident until it closed in 1959, a victim of the television juggernaut. It was later demolished, which shut the book once and for all on the theatres' troubled past. Australia Post now operates from this location.
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