On 19th August 1897, plans were approved for the construction of the Market Reserve Buildings, which included the Theatre Royal and Central Hotel, to be constructed in two stages. On 5th January 1899, tenders were called for the construction of the foundations of the first stage.
On the 26th January 1899 Mr A. Reid’s tender for the foundation of the first stage was accepted at a price of 2,266pounds. On 11th July 1899, the tender of Messrs. Smith and Hanson for the superstructure of the first stage was accepted at a price of 13,555pounds.At first it appeared that the Council was prepared to lease the theatre as a shell and the lessee was to provide all fittings and furnishings but after further consideration the Council furnished the theatre and a tender for the lease of the hotel and theatre by Edith McCreedy was accepted on 2nd July 1901.
November, Townsville Theatre Royal
Opened by Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland) November 1900. Part of the Municipal Building in Flinders Street, which also housed the Town Hall, several commercial premises and The Central Hotel (Cnr Flinders/Stokes Sts). The Licensee of the Hotel was also required to manage Theatre Bookings, Staffing, etc. One Licensee was Thomas Coyle who later became a partner in Birch, Carroll & Coyle of cinema fame.
Ref. Also:- P11, 135 & 136 “Pattern of Pubs” by B. Gibson-Wilde
Municipal buildings hub of city
This photograph of the Municipal Buildings was taken in 1914. The site now is the home of Northtown and the Hotel Townsville/Holiday Inn.
On the frieze under the pediments are clearly marked Town Hall, Arcade and Theatre. Aside from the Townsville City Council’s administration and aldermanic chambers, the building housed the Theatre Royal, several commercial premises and the Central Hotel. The latter was on the corner of Flinders and Stokes Streets — today overlooking the rotunda on the Mall. Commercial ventures as tenants included ACB (clothing suppliers), LG Snowdon (dentist), Andersen’s Jewellers, the Young Women’s Christian Association, Brownhill and Kirk, Atlas Assurance Co, Elsie Lembton’s (photographer), FS Dispensary and the Austral Cafe.
(Photograph from the W. Laurie Collection, by courtesy of the department of history and politics at James Cook University of North Queensland.)
TB 04/03/1991 History 1914
Theatre Royal Interior view 1905
The Photo Caption Reads___
“IN FASHION…….it was a grand occasion for Townsville on November 4, 1929 when Gladys Moncrieff returned to the city where she had begun her theatrical career as a schoolgirl, appearing in amateur plays. After arriving from the south on a special train with a decorated engine, Miss Moncrieff was welcomed by the mayor, town clerk. and crowd of friends. She is pictured after her arrival seated in the passenger side of the vehicle with some of her touring party. In the Townsville Daily Bulletin special mention was made that several of the visiting girls were sporting the latest fashion fad – short socks and powdered legs. The musical comedy, Rio Rita, in which Miss Moncrieff starred, was staged at the Theatre Royal.”
Photo from the Sladden Family Albums, JCU School of Humanities.
From the TB 31-5-99
Renovated Theatre Royal Will Re-Open on April 20
The premiere performance will be given in the completely renovated Townsville Theatre Royal on Thursday night, April 20th.
The Chairman of the Townsville City Council’s finance committee, Alderman H. H. Hopkins, said this on Wednesday afternoon. He said that the extensive renovation programme, which had cost over 35,000 Pounds, was quickly drawing to a close.
The Council expected to take possession of the building from the contractors, Owen Booker & Co., on Saturday. The first performance in the virtually new theatre will be for charity.
The Council has made the theatre available free of cost to a Townsville group of associated artists on the condition that all profits from the performance be equally shared between the two church committees which plan to erect aged people’s homes in the city. The two aged people’s homes are being erected by the Catholic and Methodist Churches and it is anticipated a start will be made on each before the end of the year.
The Catholic home is to be erected on a site opposite the new university college in Pimlico and the Methodist home is to be erected on a 20-acre site on the town side of Three Mile Creek at Rowe’s Bay. On Wednesday, workmen, working under air conditioning installed in the theatre, were busily engaged in taking down scaffolding. All the structural and main painting work in the theatre has been completed and only minor finishing touches have to be carried out.
But for a delay in electrical installations the theatre would have been handed over to the council on Wednesday, said Ald. Hopkins. It is expected that this work will be completed before the week-end.
In the meantime the re-upholstered seating accommodation is being replaced in the theatre. The remodelled theatre will provide accommodation for 824 people.
The actual structural alterations were carried out by Owen Booker & Co. at a tendered price of 16,630 Pounds.
Electrical installations were carried by W. T. Conn & Co. at a cost of 2792 Pounds 10 shillings. The new light fittings for the building were supplied by B.G.E. Pty Ltd at a cost of 1197 Pounds Eight shillings. The air-conditioning plant for the building, which was supplied by Swan Markham Refrigeration Pty Ltd, cost 14,515 Pounds. The air-conditioning of the theatre involved the installation of 60 tons of refrigeration equipment which is housed behind curved walls at the front of the theatre.
To improve the acoustics of the theatre the ceiling height was lowered four feet and moulded in such a manner as to throw sound from the stage into every corner of the building. Special sound-absorbing material has been used in the ceiling and the rear wall of the theatre. Materials used in the renovated theatre were specially selected to reduce echo.
One of the most striking features of the theatre is the arrangement of lighting. This has been designed to give the greatest possible effect to presentations on the stage.