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Theatre Royal, Castlemaine

Venue Summary
Name Theatre Royal, Castlemaine
Address 30 Hargraves Street, Castlemaine, Victoria 3450
Operation Dates 1852-01-01 - 9999-12-31
Capacity 970
Suburban/Country Country
Purpose Cinema
Screens 1
Venue Comments

Throughout the 1850s the theatre was attached to a hotel/bar on Hargraves St which was often frequented by miners. It was used as a theatre assembly hall and auction room.

In 1856 with the advent of prohibition on the goldfields, the theatre was re-modelled as a theatre/ ballroom.

In 1874 there was a fire at the theatre, though reports differ of how much damage occurred.

The first moving picture (of a boxing match) was screened in 1897, raising much curiosity. In subsequent years it was typical for Vaudeville players to include a short film with their performance.

In 1911 the theatre came under management of a Mr Ford, and by April 1911 was referred to as the "Royal Picture Theatre" in the Mount Alexander Mail.

From the 1930s-1980s the theatre was owned by Vin Holland with the present owners being John and Donna Walter.

With the impact of colour television making itself felt in the 1980s and 1990s, the theatre reduced screenings and began to offer live acts, opening as a nightclub "The Pit" on weekends. It was refurbished by new owners and reopened in 1999 as a family-orientated cinema and occasional live venue.

Whilst the building's facade is protected by National Trust and cannot be altered the inside can be re-developed at will. At a recent auction (c.2001) the theatre was passed in for $575,000, pleasing those who do not want the building turned into a supermarket by an interested developer.

The Theatre Royal is still running, making it the oldest operating theatre in Australia.

Mount Alexander Mail, 12 October 1897 "The Veriscope"
Mount Alexander Mail, 25 April 1911 "Royal Picture Theatre" (Advertisement)
Film Weekly, Film Weekly: motion picture directory, Film Weekly, Sydney. 1946/7-1971
Howson, D 2001, 'The mortification of Lola' Cinema Record, Iss.33, Winter, pp.26-28.
Ryllis Clark, M 2001, 'Sense of theatre', Age, June 2.
'Royal History' Theatre Royal Castlemaine viewed November 2011,
Wyldbore, J 1988, 'Castlemaine's unique theatre royal', Kino, No.26, December, pp.9-11.
Lowry, L 2002, 'Top award for Royal', Midland Express, August 27, p.1.

Venue Events
Event Date Name of Venue Address Latitude /
Capacity Suburban Purpose Screens
1852-01-01 Royal 30 Hargraves Street
Victoria 3450
970 Country Live Theatre

Cinema 1