New Mentone Theatre

188 Nepean Highway,
Melbourne, VIC 3195

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New Mentone Theatre -188 Nepean Highway, Mentone - Victoria

The New Mentone Theatre, located on the corner of Balcombe Road and Point Nepean Road, opened on Saturday 5 May 1928, with live entertainment and movies. Seating catered for 1306. Paramount films presented, Beau Sabreur and Jesse James as the gala program. Although opening in the days of silent movies, Mr Lydford considered himself an entrepreneur & showman, and was quick to realize talking pictures were the future and installed Western Electric sound equipment. Mentone became the first suburban theatre in Victoria to screen talkies. The New Mentone was first run by its builders, Mr A. E. Lydford and his three sons, until the depression in 1931 forced them to sell the theatre. It was then run by Fowler & Carr Theatres Property Ltd, who ran the theatre for most of its life. When the Carr family bought Mentone Theatre they also operated the Regent at Mordialloc, switching the program between the theatres.

The new theatre provided guests and patrons with supreme comfort. The foyer led to a wide stairway with brass rails which led to the lounge and dress circle. Down stairs were the traditional front and back stalls.

The new theatre replaced the old skating rink in Brindisi Street, which had served Mentone cinema patrons during the silent era. By 1928 the talkies had arrived. Three different changes were provided each week. Program advertising was placed in the local press, and eight foot posters (3 sheet) pasted on the theatre wall, facing Point Nepean Road. At interval sweets and ice-cream were available from lolly boys who sold Peters Dixie Cup’s from a tray suspended by a strap around their necks.

After the advent of TV in 1956 attendances collapsed. The theatre went dark on September 25, 1961, and was demolished the following year to enable the widening of the Nepean Highway. Fowler & Carr Theatres Property Ltd. were still the operators when it closed. Contributed by Greg Lynch –

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