Talkie Season Opens: Wintergarden Theatre

Talkie Season Opens: Wintergarden Theatre
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This silent clip begins with a title card announcing that the Wintergarden Theatre is the 'first theatre in the world to present a completely new invention in Talking Picture Equipment’. This is followed by an exterior shot of the Wintergarden Theatre with banners for the talkies on its awnings and flags decorating its façade. This cuts to a closer shot of one of the signs advertising the gala opening and the talkies program. Another title card introduces the Raycophone invented by Ray Allsop, a sound system that has been installed at the Wintergarden. Footage of Allsop concludes the clip. Summary by Poppy De Souza

Title Synopsis

This silent historical footage shows the Wintergarden Theatre (now demolished) in Rose Bay, Sydney, as it prepares for the screening of talking pictures. It also features some of the people involved in renovating the theatre, including Ray Allsop, inventor of the Raycophone, architect FA Jarvie, interior designer H Peterson and sculptor Rayner Hoff.

Title Curator's Notes

The Wintergarden Theatre was the first suburban theatre equipped with sound technology to screen talkies. Unfortunately this clip does not reveal the interior, but the banners decorating the façade imply that it was quite an event. The NFSA holds colour 16mm footage of part of the demolition.

The coming of sound to Australian cinemas in the late 1920s prompted a flurry of competing sound systems in the market – both local and international. Ray Allsop was a radio engineer who had experimented with sound technologies since the early 1920s and, after the Wintergarden was fitted with 'Raycophone’ technology, over 300 other Australian theatres followed suit. The young Allsop appears briefly at the end of the clip.

The Wintergarden opened on 24 February 1928 and was demolished in 1987. An apartment building overlooking the harbour now stands on the theatre site.