Opening Night at the Hurstville Savoy, 1937

Hurstville Savoy, 1938. Image courtesy State Library NSW

Hurstville Savoy, 1937. Image courtesy State Library NSW

In preparation for a pretty major article on the Kogarah Mecca cinema, much of the research conjured up stories of Hurstville’s own Mecca. In their later years, both theatres shared an owner who named them both Mecca for the sake of uniformity, and that’s all I’d care to say about that particular topic. For decades, the Savoy was the jewel of Ormonde Parade, even after they built the Supa Centre in front of it. Nice going, fellas.

Opening night at the Savoy, 1937. Image courtesy State Library NSW

Opening night at the Savoy, 1937. Just think: each person is holding their own copy of this booklet. Image courtesy State Library NSW

In the beginning, however, the Hurstville Savoy was a triumph of Art Deco design, a massive artistic improvement over the rather pedestrian theatres that had entertained the suburb in years prior. The more I learned, the more shocked I was that such a structure ever existed in Hurstville as I know it today. Everything about the place seemed to radiate a sense of silver-screen Hollywood elegance, and nowhere was this more evident than the evening’s handsomely designed souvenir booklet.

Demolished in 1994, nothing remains of the theatre today, so this brochure is as close as we can get to the Savoy experience short of generating 1.21 gigawatts. Be amazed, and just keep telling yourself: it came from that Hurstville.
















10 responses

  1. I have memories of being taken here as a child in the 60s. A highlight was the Wurlitzer at the Saturday night session. I seem to recall it came up on a lift from under the stage complete with the organist already playing his heart out. A real showman if ever there was one.

  2. what memories, when I was about 12 as a boy we would go every Saturday arvo to the other cinema,the civic I think and watch the serials like the lone ranger etc and cartoons , and when we felt like been a bit posh we would go over to the savoy..very nice … .. those were the days my friend…….. the organ player was really special as well……. barry…..

    1. @Barry et al, did you swap comics at interval?. If you went to Hurstville Boys High the school would have it’s major meetings there.
      Arrh yes, those were the days. Saturday matinees at the Civic and evening screenings at the beautiful Savoy.

  3. My father-in-law, Len Hyde, was apprenticed to the projection room under Arthur Hewlett, and Stage Manager Alf Welsh, and remembers clearly all the activities needed to keep the cinema (also showing live shows on stage). There was also the great sound of the Wurlitzer organ, which once came off its screw and toppled sideways when being raised. Many other stories available, with a clear mind for his age, now 93, from Len.

  4. Absolute travesty that developers, with Council acquiescence, pulled it down in the name of commercial ‘modernisation’ – up there with Sydney City Council’s demolition of Walter Burly Griffin’s Pyrmont Incinator with its Aztec-inspired motifs. Both vandalising acts carried out as recently as the 1990s!

    BTW the owner of the Mecca & the Savoy at that time, previously owned the old Oatley Cinema which was one of the numerous early victims of picture house closures in Sydney (c. early 60s) due to the commencement of television.

  5. The Wurlitzer pipe organ itself has a potted history being first installed in the Kings Cross Theatre in 1928 then transferred to the Hurstville Savoy for its opening. Removed in 1958 it spent the next 30+ years in the Congregational Church, Burwood. Sold again and after changing hands a couple of times was installed in a converted church/residence in Heathcote, Victoria. The organ has been shipped to China for a musical instrument museum.

  6. Many fond nights a the savoy I did not see a mention of the organ on the brochure did it come later?

  7. I first went to the Savoy Cinema in 1959, with my father.
    We moved to Oatley in that year, and before a television set was purchased we did the rounds of the suburban cinemas, Penshurst, Oatley and the Hurstville Savoy.
    I was introduced to Marella Jubes, at the Hurstville Savoy.
    Some of the notable films I watched over the years, that I remembered are
    “The Blue Max”,
    Bob Hope in
    “Boy did I get a wrong number”
    some surfing films, and most notably on my 12th birthday in 1966, was
    “They’re a weird mob”
    The Australian comedy film, revolving around Italian immigrants, with one of the pub scenes, filmed at the
    “Royal Hotel Bondi”
    One of the pubs, that I owned and managed with my parents, for over forty years.
    I later became the Licencee, and I recently sold the Royal, to Justin Hemmes Merivale group.
    My first introduction to the Bondi pub, was at the Hurstville Savoy Cinema.
    I’m also married to a beautiful lady, a first generation Australian of Italian immigrants.

  8. I was told my grandmother Edeva Broadribb played the organ during interval. I attended the Savoy Theatre many times from a young child, every Saturday afternoon. At the time I didn’t know my grandmother.
    I have very fond memories of my young life there. I also in my teens went to Sth Hurstville Theatre with all my cousins. I lived in Blakehurst at the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: