Perth’s Ambassadors Theatre - A Short Tribute to a Lost Gem

Posted by barryinperth on April 6, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Comments (8)

barryinperth on April 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm

Perth’s Ambassadors was one of three Eberson-inspired atmospheric picture palaces built by Australia’s Union Theatres Ltd in the late 1920s, the other two being Sydney’s Capitol (opened 7 April 1928) and Melbourne’s State (opened 23 February 1929). The architectural theme of The Ambassadors was that of a ‘Florentine renaissance garden’, complete with stuffed pigeons and peacocks imported from Durban in South Africa. A faithful replica of the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ was one of many artistic flourishes that made The Ambassadors a flamboyant experience for patrons.

I didn’t experience The Ambassadors until the late 1960s, by which time it had been long-stripped of most of its lavish decoration and statuary (by the Hoyts theatre chain which took it over c.1938). However, it was still a wonderfully atmospheric environment. One of the most poignant photographs depicting the demise of a picture palace was taken in 1972 during the early stages of The Ambassadors' demolition. Taken from the rear of the dress circle, a dramatic shaft of sunlight dissects the auditorium.The demise of Perth’s Ambassadors was regrettably a ‘landmark’ moment in the ‘progressive’ destruction of Perth’s architectural heritage that commenced in the late 1960s and continued well into the 1980s.

barryinperth on April 21, 2015 at 9:04 am

I’m surprised that no-one has commented on this … Down Under and invisible?

ThrHistoricalSociety on May 14, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Thanks for this lovely video – we just shared on our Facebook page. It must have been a wonderful place. Theatre Historical Society of America

davidcoppock on May 18, 2015 at 11:05 pm

There was an auction in the the Ambassadors Theatre a few days after the theatre closed with the film Diamonds are forever, before the theatre was demolished. I have an old Ambassadors Theatre price sign,it is pre-decimel(pounds,schillings and pence and(entertainment?) tax,on both sides(double sided sign),i have no idea how old it is,but is before the change of currency in(february?)1966. I also have a flyer/program of diamonds are forever which may have been from the Ambassador Theatre’s final screening?

vindanpar on June 6, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Down Under and invisible?

Unfortunately yes, though pictures I’ve seen of Perth in the early part of the 20th century reveal it to have been a magnificent city. One I would have gladly flown half the globe to visit. Now it looks from photos like any other in the 21st.

barryinperth on June 20, 2015 at 1:12 am

Great to have your comments!

David, how wonderful that you attended the auction. Ivan King has the magnificient peacock stage curtain at the WA Museum of Performing Arts, but I’d love to know where everything else ended up.

Vindapar, yes, Perth was a glorious city architecturally in the early 20th century thanks to the 1890s goldrush that transformed the city from a colonial backwater into a thriving city in the space of a decade.

And Theatre Historical Society of America, mega thanks for sharing on your Facebook page.



davidcoppock on June 21, 2015 at 10:47 pm

Barry,i wasn’t at the auction(i was only about 2 and a half then). I got the sign and flyer/program much in a differant auction/s in the 1990’s i think? I think the auction was mentioned in the West Australian at the time(I think there was a bridge of sighs repicia in there somewhere that was chipped away and sold in (small?) pieces i think,what a pity?!).

barryinperth on July 7, 2015 at 1:40 am

Thanks for this clarification, David!

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