“A new era in theatrical entertainment in Brisbane was ushered in last night when Hoyts Theatres Ltd. opened the doors of the Regent Theatre to more than 3,000 people”, reported Brisbane newspaper The Telegraph on the official gala charity opening of the Regent Theatre in Queen Street on 8 November 1929. This month marks the 90th anniversary.
As part of our historical collections, State Library of Queensland holds two items documenting the construction and opening of this elegant American-style picture palace. First is an architectural plan of the Regent Theatre, produced by Melbourne architect Charles N. Hollinshed in association with Brisbane architect Richard Gailey Jr. The plan, dated 16 January 1929, is on waxed linen and shows a longitudinal section of the theatre. The plan is available to view onsite at State Library.
Another significant collection item is an original souvenir program from the official opening. The illustrated program produced by Hoyts Theatres Ltd features promotional advertisements for the companies involved in the construction and features of the new theatre, including building contractors A.J. Dickinson, Cahills Ltd suppliers of chocolates and ice-cream, chandeliers and other light fixtures by Wm. Bedford Ltd, and its Brunswick-Kroeschell air-conditioning system installed by Hunt’s Australia Ltd.
The program also details the opening night’s festivities which included the National Anthem performed by the Regent Grand Concert Orchestra, Fox Movietone News covering current events, including a policy speech by new Prime Minister James Scullin, and organist Stanley Wallace played a selection of music from operas on the Wurlitzer. The feature presentation was a screening of the US musical film, Fox Movietone Follies of 1929. A detailed description of the gala opening was published in The Telegraph the following day. The souvenir program is available to view onsite.
The Regent Theatre was redeveloped in the 1970s and again in the 2010s under much controversy. A detailed history of the Regent building and its redevelopments can be found on the Queensland Heritage Register.
- Collection of digitised photographs of Brisbane’s Regent Theatre taken ca.1929 (National Library of Australia collection)
- Brisbane’s Regent Theatre gone, 2010 (ABC Radio National)
Further collection items on the Regent Theatre
- 27694 Regent Theatre Development Architectural Plans 1975 and 28356 Regent Redevelopment Architectural Plan 1975 – development plans for the Regent Theatre, Queen Street, Brisbane. The plan was made in 1975 by Lange L. Powell, Dods and Thorpe Architects. Available onsite at State Library of Queensland
- News sheet / Save the Regent Campaign – only one edition is held in our collection, Oct. 28, 1978
- The Regent : an alternative to demolition – Save The Regent Campaign, 1978
- The Regent : Brisbane’s motion picture cathedral by Michael T Gillies, 2014.
Myles Sinnamon – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland