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Majestic Theatre

The Majestic Theatre was in High Street, in the middle of what is now the Mall, a one-block section of the former Street that is now closed to vehicular traffic. It was opened in 1916 and closed as a cinema in 1938. As part of Manning's Buildings, 1906, it was designed by Cavanagh & Cavanagh, and built by Richard Rennie.

Majestic Theatre

Library:
Fremantle Library photo #1724, I.N. Branson, c. 1930s [cropped: see bottom for the original]. Barney Silberts on the right were in Manning Buildings, 109-113 High Street. Next to them is the Majestic Picture Theatre, Manning Buildings, 115-117 High Street; and towards the Town Hall is Ezywalkins, Manning Chambers, 125-137 High Street.

The Majestic Theatre (cinema) High St Fremantle, right of centre, with the white facade. The sign on the top of the building says TALKIES, so this would be the 1930s - apparently 1937. The cinema auditorium is still (2015) inside: it's completely empty, unused, without a ceiling. The balconies which are dimly visible in the photograph (under the large poster) can still be seen from the street. The ironwork displays the initials MT. Image from the Fremantle City Library Local History Collection.

The Theatre opened in 1916 and was closed in 1938 after which the site was redeveloped for retail, and the facade is over what is now the Manning Arcade, in which Five Star Tattoo used to occupy the former cinema's offices. One of the staff was kind enough to allow me into the cinema auditorium 22 June 2014 so that I was able to take some of the photos below.

This is the exterior of what is now Manning Arcade. Note the balconies above the awning with the MT logo of the former Majestic Theatre.

A closer look at the windows from the outside. Now to the inside ...

The floor seems sound, although strewn liberally with pigeon shit. There is absolutely nothing at all in the former auditorium.

Even the former toilets have been completely stripped.

There's plenty of light the northern end.

Less light at the southern end. That's the door that gives access, and to what I believe used to be the Theatre offices.

A refit would require much more than a new ceiling, but that is the most obvious thing missing.

Five Star Tattoo, who were kind enough to allow me into the building. They have now relocated to 50 High Street.

Majestic Theatre

The last photo of the interior is from the Mayor's blog: much better than those I took.

Majestic Theatre

Fremantle Library photo #1232A, c1940. Following is the caption that accompanies the photo.

Library:
From the right are: Barney Silbert & Co, in the Manning Buildings, 109-113 High Street; (formerly, 1905, Breckler Brothers); Coles, Manning Buildings, 115-117 (formerly Majestic Picture Theatre, 1916); and Caris Brothers (formerly Adolph Kopp, watchmaker and jeweller.) In the centre background is the Town Hall (1887). Trams ran down High Street from 1905 to 8th November 1952.

Majestic Theatre

Fremantle Library photo #1355, said to be c1934, but the film Happy Days Revue, originally known as Happy Days Are Here Again, was only released in 1936. Following is the caption that accompanies the photo.

Library:
The Majestic first appears as a theatre in Fremantle City Council ratebooks in 1916/1917. Previously there were shops here. In 1938/1939 it was taken over by G J Coles. When the weather was very hot, the staff were permitted to wear street clothes.

Fremantle Library photo #1724, I.N. Branson [uncropped].

The last days of the Majestic. There is now no sign of the cinema building inside the new building. Only the facade remains, with the two balconies, and the wrought-iron work with the initials, in the Mall.

Notes and acknowledgements

Older images thanks to the Fremantle Library.

The Australian Museum of Motion Picture & Television has a page about the Fremantle Majestic.

There was also a Majestic Theatre in Perth, until 1937 when the cinema on the site became the Plaza and then the Paris. The Plaza Arcade still exists.

Thanks again to Five Star Tattoo.

References and Links

Bell, Max D., Perth: A Cinema History, Book Guild, Sussex: 32.

Davidson, Ron 2007, Fremantle Impressions, Fremantle Press: 256, 258.

Hutchison, David 2006, Fremantle Walks, Fremantle Arts Centre Press: 152, 153, 199.

Western Australian CinemaWeb page

Appendix

What follows is the whole entry, unedited, for this former cinema from the ammpt (Australian Museum Of Motion Picture & Television Inc.) site - not as an act of copyright theft but as a backup. Websites often disappear for various reasons.

MAJESTIC, 115 (formerly 137) High St, Fremantle
Photograph of cinema
Majestic 1981
majestic1 nd
Majestic Fremantle nd
The Connolly syndicate built and ran the Majestic theatres, opening first in Perth, then in Fremantle and Kalgoorlie. The Fremantle Majestic seated 1000, and was described as ‘a fine, imposing structure of generous proportions’ (West Australian, 9 December 1916), when it opened on 23 December 1916, after the official ceremony had been postponed for a day because of a power failure. In August 1918 the lease was taken over by J.C.W. Films, and in 1927 it became a Hoyts theatre, which it remained till it closed on 25 July 1938, in anticipation of the opening of Hoyts Fremantle. In fear that the Majestic lease would be taken over by another company who might operate in competition with their new theatre, Hoyts employees destroyed the fixtures and fittings on the day they vacated the premises, and opened the next day in the new theatre. The site was then occupied by a Homecrafts store, but the logo (MT) was still (at least to 1997) visible in the wrought iron of the balcony railings.
Sources: City of Fremantle, Rate Books
Fremantle Library, collection of cuttings
Public Works Department (Battye 1459)
Max Bell, Perth: a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, 1986 p.32
Hoyts Screen News, 1931 – 2
Post Office Directory, 1917 – 1938/9
West Australian, 2 Jan.1920 – 20 June 1920
Interview (Ina Bertrand): Ken Booth (1978)
Interview (Ina Bertrand & Bill Turner): Jack Gynn (1981)
Photos: 2 exteriors (different angles), colour, 1981 (Bill Turner)
1 exterior ( Majestic) , b&w, date unknown, from the AMMPT archives


Garry Gillard | New: 23 June, 2013 | Now: 6 December, 2023