2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Strand Theatre, located on Margaret Street in Toowoomba.
The building was designed by Brisbane architect George Henry Male Addison for James Patrick Newman, a Toowoomba City alderman and owner of the adjoining Crown Hotel. The Strand’s third floor was actually used as accommodation for the Crown Hotel via a connecting staircase.
The theatre was leased to Senora Spencer, entrepreneur and film exhibitor, who branded it with the name Strand after her theatres in Brisbane and Newcastle.
The Strand Theatre was officially opened on April 15, 1916 by Toowoomba Mayor, Alfred McWaters. So anticipated was the opening of The Strand, that the theatre was soon packed and many had to be turned away.
The program for opening night consisted of British war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Barlett’s footage from the Gallipoli campaign, screened for the first time in Toowoomba. This was followed by the American silent film Rags starring Mary Pickford. The film was accompanied by the Strand Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Lee.
In an advertisement published in the Darling Downs Gazette on April 17, the Strand Theatre proclaimed – “We’re Glad, We’re Sorry” – stating that they were disappointed that so many people had to be turned away.
The building was entered into the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992.
Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland