Category Archives: special feature

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.

img026

img004

img007

img009

img010

img014

img015

img016

img017

img019

img020

img021

img023

img024

img025

From the archives…

I’m proud to announce that Past Lives of the Near Future has been selected by the National Library of Australia for inclusion in their Pandora internet archive!

Since 1996, the NLA has selected sites deemed culturally or historically significant to the Australian community and archived them for posterity, and it’s rewarding to learn that Past Lives fits that criteria!

The NLA plans to archive the site annually, which at the current rate is more often than I update. 

I’ve added a link to the archived Past Lives on the sidebar. A big thank you to the NLA for their hard work archiving the many images on the site (not an easy feat), and for you, the readers, for making this site what it’s become after two (!) years. I appreciate it immensely. 

A Tour of Homebush Theatre

IMG_5669

A common complaint when it comes to this line of work (It’s not work unless you’re getting paid – Ed) is that although we can admire these old buildings and speculate about their history, we’re forced to do so from afar. We’ve all been there: you’re standing in front of an old, seemingly derelict icon from another era, possibly from your own past. You’ve been past it thousands of times, and hell, back in the glory days you might even have gone in. Oh, to have one more look around inside…no one’s around, who would mind? It would be so easy to sneak in and spend a few hours in the past…

And then common sense kicks in, and you keep walking, only now you’re carrying the added burden of regret.

DSC_3450 (1024x683)

The call’s coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!

But thankfully, Past/Lives reader “Cylonicus” took full advantage of a temporary absence of common sense and managed to get inside the forbidding Homebush Theatre/Niterider/Midnight Star et al. In an even less sensical move (but one I’m eternally grateful for), he was kind enough to send Past/Lives the photos. Of course, Past/Lives does not condone this kind of thing, nor trespassing in general…but if you just can’t help yourself, be sure to send me the pics. I have a feeling this won’t be the first time…

I’ve written about this place twice before, so if you’re in the dark you might want to bone up on its history before you step inside:

Homebush Cinema/Niterider Theatre Restaurant/Midnight Star Reception Centre/Derelict – Homebush, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #3: Midnight Star Reception Centre – Homebush, NSW

And now, without further commentary from me, behold the fractured beauty of the Homebush Theatre one last time (before it becomes apartments). A massive THANK YOU once again to reader “Cylonicus”!

DSC_3379 (1024x683) DSC_3381 (1024x683) DSC_3389 (1024x679) DSC_3390 (1024x679) DSC_3393 (1024x683) DSC_3394 (1024x683) DSC_3396 (1024x683) DSC_3404 (1024x656) DSC_3409 (1024x683) DSC_3413 (1024x668) DSC_3429 (1024x683) DSC_3433 (1024x683) DSC_3445 (1024x683) DSC_3447 (1024x653) DSC_3448 (1024x683) DSC_3454 (1024x683) DSC_3472 (1024x683) DSC_3466 (1024x683) DSC_3462 (1024x669) DSC_3458 (1024x683) DSC_3477 (1024x669) DSC_3479 (1024x894) DSC_3485 (1024x683) DSC_3488 (1024x683) DSC_3494 (1024x683) DSC_3500 (1024x669) DSC_3501 (1024x683) DSC_3503 (1024x888)

‘Fine stream, fine meadow’ – the Cooks River project

If you read my entry on Shea’s Creek/Alexandra Canal and found your thirst for knowledge on the subject far from quenched (yeah, right), then I recommend you head over to the Dictionary of Sydney, which has just launched its Cooks River project. From the Dictionary:

It is with great pleasure that we launch our ‘Fine stream, fine meadow’ Cooks River project. Made possible through a Federal Government Your Community Heritage grant, today marks the culmination of a 12 month partnership between the Dictionary of Sydney and Botany Bay CityMarrickville and Canterbury City councils, the Cooks River Alliance, and nine fine writer-historians whose collective works form the heart of this project.

Through 14 essays, our authors trace the history of the Cooks River valley from its days as a pristine natural watercourse and lush hunting ground for the Eora people to the high density inner city suburbs and polluted river we know today.

It’s an impressive, exhaustive undertaking, and one I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to. Plus, if you look hard enough, you might find one of the photographers to be very familiar. What are you still reading this for? Get over there, ya mugs!

Past/Lives Flashback Countdown Repository

Since it took just a little bit longer to get through a seemingly simple top ten than I thought it would, I’ve gathered them all here for the sake of convenience. It was a good chance to go back and flesh out some of the history of these places, and in some cases a great opportunity to continue their stories. Enjoy:

Past/Lives Flashback #10: Butchery No. 1 – Hurstville, NSW 

Past/Lives Flashback #9: Hire One – Hurstville, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #8: Sydney Olympic Park – Homebush, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #7: Rick Damelian – Leichhardt, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #6: Regent Street Station – Chippendale, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #5: The Hartee’s Saga, Part V: Hartee’s Revenge – Manly Vale, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #4: Videomania – Rosebery, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #3: Midnight Star Reception Centre – Homebush, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #2: Platforms 26 & 27, Central Station – Sydney, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #1: Union Carbide – Rhodes, NSW 

In site news, there’s finally a Facebook page for Past/Lives. ‘Like’ it to your right. With it, I’ll be able to update older entries with new photos or newspaper articles or whatever and let you know about it toot sweet, plus there’ll be plenty of other good stuff I’m not able to fit into the main articles, so head on over.

Now that the countdown’s over, there’s plenty of fun NEW material on the way, and I’ll be catching up on some reader suggestions. Stay tuned…