Townsville Theatres

1869  Townsville’s 1st Theatre Royal opened 7th July 1869    (ref: P.138 “Pattern of Pubs”)
…………………………………………opened 19th Aug 1869   (ref: P.85 “Gateway to a Golden Land”)
Located next to The Commercial Hotel (now Lang’s Hotel, Flinders St East)
Proprietor Mr Bridge
Manager Mr Thomas Fawcett  (well known local actor)

Exchange_Hotel_and_Assembly_Rooms_theatre_c_18701869 The Exchange Hotel Assembly Rooms (pictured at right) was thought to be one of the first ‘theatres’ in Townsville and was thought to be located originally in Denham St.
Exchange Assembly Rooms believed opened 17th July 1869
Also known as “Poole’s Assembly Rooms”
Location  Flinders St (on site of present Exchange Hotel)
Proprietor   Mrs Poole


1874 Olympic Theatre opened attached to the Denham St Façade of the then Townsville Hotel.
Location on the corner of Denham St & Flinders St on the site of the present National Mutual Building. By 1878 it had become a restaurant.
Proprietor:  Augustus (A.F.) Low
Photo  c.1875 – Jubilee Carnival Program 1913
Ref: A Pattern of Pubs” – B.Gibson-Wilde


First_School_of_Arts_-_Built_1877sm1877  The first publicly owned performing arts centre in Townsville was attached to the rear of the original School of Arts in Cleveland Terrace (the old Supreme Court). Designed to hold an audience of a thousand people, it opened in 1877 with a grand Ethiopian Entertainment by the Townsville Orpheus Glee Club.




1891  27th May 1891 School of Arts with Her Majesty’s Theatre opened.
The building with the rounded (barrel-vaulted) roof is Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Photo: T.B. 19/8/96   from the W.J.Laurie Collection courtesy of the JCU History & Politics Department.




During the succeeding years, amateur productions increased in number as groups of local performers formed a range of organisations. Within a decade, Townsville fostered a Music Union, the Town Band, the Townsville Liedertafel, the Garrick Dramatic Company and the Townsville Philharmonic Society.



1900 In November 1900, the new Theatre Royal was opened by the Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington.



As Townsville continued to develop into a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with its busy port, strategically situated on the major shipping lines across the world and the Australian east coast, it also played host to an interesting range of international and national performers.


1905 At the Theatre Royal in 1905, in a performance by students of the local West End State School, local resident Gladys Moncrieff took a leading role in the Pirates of Penzance. It was the first appearance in light opera of a singer destined to become one of Australia’s most popular music stars.


1910 In 1910 Thomas Lowth and Associates opened Townsville’s first purpose built cinema.


1978 Planning for a new air-conditioned Civic Theatre commenced in the 1960s and on 31 March 1978, the new theatre opened with a variety concert of local performers, which then led to the formation of professional and community based theatre companies, such as New Moon, Tropic Line, North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre Group, Hard Sun and the reformation of the One Act Play Festival.

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