Cinema and Audience Research Project

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Kings Hall / Empire Pictures / West's Palace Gardens / West's Picture Palace / Subiaco Oval

Venue Summary
Name Kings Hall / Empire Pictures / West's Palace Gardens / West's Picture Palace / Subiaco Oval
Address 438 Hay Street, Subiaco, Western Australia 6008
Operation Dates -
Suburban/Country Suburb
Purpose Cinema
Screens 1
Venue Comments

"The very first screenings in Subiaco seem to have been in the privately-owned Victoria Hall in October 1904, and, after that burnt down, occasional screenings were offered from August 1905 in another privately-owned hall built in 1902, the King's Hall. Empire Pictures also screened weekly in the Kings Hall from April 1911, and the following summer they took over the pictures on the oval.

The earliest permanent film show in the suburb was a summer seasonal show on the oval, run by a local committee calling themselves the Continental Picture Show Committee. Proceeds were shared between the Council and various charitable causes, and the screenings were successful over several summer seasons, from 1910 - 1916.

But by then T.J.West had entered the suburb. His firm had toured the state several times with films before deciding to set up a permanent management in Perth in June 1908. From the central city area, he expanded to Fremantle later that year, and then commenced a touring company which regularly visited several major country centres. The Palace Gardens, Subiaco, were a comparatively late development for West, opening on 24 January 1912, but they were still only the second purpose-built cinema venue in the suburban area.

This establishment soon became the major venue for the suburb, challenging Empire Pictures. The pictures on the oval survived the challenge, but not the hall screenings: when Empire Pictures decided to build, they moved across to Leederville rather than open in competition with West's, which by now had an indoor theatre as well as the gardens. West's was absorbed into the Union Theatres group with the amalgamations which produced that company, and West's Theatre and Gardens in Subiaco was purchased by Ted and Mary Coade at least as early as 1928, when extensive remodelling was carried out to the design of L. Rosenthal. The Coades' granddaughter, playwright Dorothy Hewett, remembers the theatre fondly, and describes it as ornate late-Edwardian, with copies of classical statues and a frieze of leaping cherubs around the walls. West's Gardens she describes as ´sumptuous', with artificial roses twining around trellises and plaster statues holding up lights. The venue was managed by Phil Appleby, and in 1928 was one of only four suburban shows screening every week-night. In 1929, Australtone sound equipment was installed in the theatre, but the gardens continued to successfully screen silent films for some time longer.

In 1935, the Hewett family moved from Wickepin to Perth, and Dorothy Hewett's parents joined with her grandparents to purchase the site of the Coliseum Gardens across the road from West's. The Coliseum was demolished, and the Regal Theatre was built on the site. Then West's theatre was leased to the Police Boys Club, to ensure that it would not again be used as a cinema, in competition with the new Regal. Finally, the Regal Gardens was built on West's Gardens site, and this story continues under the name ´Coliseum/Regal'." (Bertrand 2001)


Venue Events
Event Date Name of Venue Address Latitude /
Capacity Suburban Purpose Screens
1902-01-01 Kings Hall 438 Hay Street
Western Australia 6008
Suburb Hall 1

1911-04-01 Empire Pictures

1912-01-24 Palace Gardens