Strand Theatre, Toowoomba (100th anniversary)

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Strand Theatre, located on Margaret Street in Toowoomba.

Advertisement for the Strand Theatre in Toowoomba. From The Darling Downs: the garden of Queensland. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Advertisement for the Strand Theatre in Toowoomba. From The Darling Downs: the garden of Queensland. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

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.

Part of an advertisement published in Darling Downs Gazette, April 15, 1916

Part of an advertisement published in Darling Downs Gazette, April 15, 1916

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.

Alfred David McWaters - mayor of Toowoomba, 1916. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 84420

Alfred David McWaters – mayor of Toowoomba, 1916. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 84420

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.

Advertisement from Darling Downs Gazette, April 17, 1916

Advertisement from Darling Downs Gazette, April 17, 1916

The building was entered into the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992.

Strand Theatre, Toowoomba, 1991. Image from Queensland Heritage Register

Strand Theatre, Toowoomba, 1991. Image from Queensland Heritage Register

Further reading

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland