There is something romantic about old movie theatres. Something beyond the cosmetics of dated curtains, faded carpeting and uncomfortable seating. Sure, there’s a feeling of nostalgia and history. But it’s more than that. I can’t help but wonder at how many new romances blossomed in the darkened auditorium? How many dreams were born here? How many heroes lived and died on the screen? I often wallow in nostalgia and sentimentality.
Originally built as a soldiers memorial hall, the 360 seat Lyric Theatre screened it’s first film on 10 October 1925. In the days before television ‘going to the pictures’ was a special occasion and the cinema was central to local social activity.
The Windsor group operated several suburban Adelaide theatres during this time and The Lyric Theatre became the Windsor Theatre in October 1948. The theatre was substantially internally modified in the 1950s with two side aisles replacing the centre aisle and seating capacity upgraded to accommodate 495 patrons.
Television arrived in Adelaide in 1959. Many suburban theatres struggled and few survived. The Windsor closed in 1963 and sat dormant for many years before a period of revival in the 1970s when it reopened as the Cine Centre. The theatre later operated as the Odeon Star from 1993 – 2000 before reverting to the Windsor in 2000.
On 30 August 2012, with dwindling patron numbers and the prohibitive costs involved in upgrading to digital film projection technology, the theatre finally closed for good. Since that time the theatre has remained vacant (albeit for a short stint as the campaign headquarters of Bob Katter’s Australian Party during the 2013 federal election).
The costs involved to achieve building code compliance and remediate asbestos issues are prohibitive and, on this basis, it is highly unlikely that the building will ever operate as a cinema again. Further, whilst the building is listed on the Local Heritage Register, the fabric of the building has been altered extensively and little remains of the original architecture. Options for community use are being explored by the building owners. So too is the possibility of demolition. At this stage a final decision is yet to be made.
I hope this stirs up a few memories and you too can wallow in the nostalgia for a few moments.
Thankyou to staff at West Torrens Council for facilitating entry. Please note that these images are over 12 months old and do not reflect the current state of the building interior. I was fortunate to capture these images before the interior fixtures and fittings were removed.