The Regent Theatre is situated at 145 Windsor Street, Richmond, New South Wales. It is the oldest surviving picture theatre in the town but not the first to operate (see Richmond Picture Theatre). The Regent was built by Michael Walsh, the publican of the Royal Hotel which is still located on the corner of East Market Street and Windsor Street, opposite the park. The new Regent opened on 17 July 1935 with the British musical film ‘My heart is calling’. Walsh was already showing films in Richmond prior to building this new venture but the location of his previous cinema is unknown.
The new theatre received an enthusiastic and extensive write up in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette which promoted the “the palatial” interiors, the comfort of the “latest Dunlopillo variety' seating and the excellence of the “Western Electric ‘wide range’ sound system” ensuring a “natural life-like sound”. The report did however make mention of the “domestic nature” of the facade with a lack of “modern embellishments” which in the writer’s opinion would have been out of place in the town.
The building was built to a design by Moore & Dyer in the Art Deco style with Spanish Mission influence, the theatre is similar in style to the Parramatta Roxy which opened in 1930 but on a smaller scale.
The whole of the work, including all furnishings is being supervsed by Messrs. Herbert and Wilson, architects, Mr S F Macdonald is the contractor for the building. Mr Walsh has been fortunate in securing the services of Mr Jack Waters as manager of the new theatre. Mr Waters has had considerable previous experience in the picture show industry, and we feel sure that under his capable and competent guidance the venture will prove a success.
The land on which the theatre was constructed was part of a large block granted to John Bowman and the historic home next door known as Toxana was constructed for William and Elizabeth Bowman in about 1842. When the property was subdivided Toxana Street was created in November 1906. The property was owned by Mrs Florence Bush until the transfer to Michael Walsh in June 1935.
The theatre was bought by television personality Mike Walsh in 1976 with a grand re-opening celebration featuring the epic drama ‘Gone with the Wind’ and afterwards a champagne supper was served at the historic Hobartville Estate. During the late 1980s the interior theatre space was extensively renovated and redecorated, unfortunately the front concertina doors have since been removed. The Regent was converted to a twin cinema in 1995 and now uses the latest in digital projection equipment.
State Archives and Records of NSW, Kingswood, hold records relating to theatres and public halls and includes the Regent Theatre from from 1/1/1930 to 31/12/1976 (Series 15318 Item 4417) and from 1/1/1977 to 31/12/1990 (Series 15318 Item 80/0503).
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