A Visit to the Majestic Theatre

This was the Majestic Theatre, opened 2 June 1917 to show films. The other two theatres constructed at the same time were intended for live theatre, although the National (1915) had both and I think the Princess (1911) ended up being mostly film, and films were also shown at the Academy of Music (later Plaza Theatre). Films, and movies, were all new then and thing to do doing. Then, of course, came TV. The Majestic closed in 1970, and was bought by Neil Pitt’s, a mens wear shop, who have been operating from the building ever since. Much of the theatre still remains amongst the happens of a clothes shop.

The text is italics is from the Examiner, just before the opening of the new theatre.


(Photo, 2005.)

THE NEW MAJESTIC
IMPOSING AND BEAUTIFUL THEATRE.
OFFICIAL OPENING ON SATURDAY.
Strikingly imposing in its towering height, and original in its Grecian design on the outside, and modern in its construction, and beautiful in its finish on the inside, the new Majestic Theatre is a very notable addition indeed to the places of amusement in Launceston. It is ten months and 12 days since the beginning was made with the erection of this fine modern edifice, which stands today as a further monument to the wide knowledge and special faculty for the work of theatre-building possessed by Mr. Mareeno Lucas, who some six years ago provided Launceston with the Princess. And there can be no hesitation in acknowledging the very note-worthy success he has achieved in this his latest essay.


Brisbane St, Launceston. The two shops here were offered for sale in 1915 and then demolished to make room for a modern new theatre. (That window that you can see part of on the far left is the same window you can see part of in my photo above.)
(From QVMAG Collection, QVM:1993:P:1298

Erected on what may at be regarded as the best and most conveniently-situated site, the Majestic, it is explained by Mr. Lucas, cost in all approximately £18,000 – the ground £8000, the building £9000. and the furnishing £1000. Day labour entirely has been used, and the whole undertaking is to the design and was under the supervision of Mr. Lucas himself. To be properly appreciate the capacity and de beauty of this important addition to the principal buildings of the city, and requires to go through it from end to end, as an “Examiner” representative did yesterday. Practically at the very centre of the tramway system, the site is a splendid location for a theatre, and where formerly were buildings which constituted something of an eyesore in the principal thoroughfare of the city is a structure of most imposing and commanding design.


Majestic Theatre, April 1918 (Tasmanian Archives & Heritage Office

While it is the interior that will possibly charm the patron most, there is much to be said of the general aspect of the front elevation. Entrance to all sections of the theatre is obtained through a noble vestibule 20ft. in width, prettily tiled, in which are the two ticket offices, one each under the wide stair ways loading to the dress circle.

These staircases, in marble, with wrought iron balustrading and blackwood rail, lead to a foyer of nearly the same ample proportions as the vestibule below. It measures 30ft. by 25ft., and from it access may be had to commodious cloak-rooms fitted with all conveniences. Here also is situated the managerial office, and with the rich carpetings and general scheme of decorations this portion a of the theatre is altogether most attractive. From the foyer there are two entrances to the circle, and in this connection mention may be made of an innovation in the form of the installation of green pilot lights at the end of each passageway in the circle, assuring guidance without inconvenience at any stage a of the entertainment.


This is now a workroom for Neil Pitts, the mens wear shop that occupies the building. It has a a mixture of old sewing equipment and current equipment.


Note the theatre features amongst the clothing work (celing, chimney).

The operating box is built of concrete, outside the circle entirely, and is consequently fire-proof. The electric dynamo which is to supply the current for the projection of the pictures is regarded by Mr. Lucas as a distinct feature. It is known as a the Martin rotary convertor, imported direct from America, and is the only v one of its kind in Tasmania. Absolutely noiseless, Mr. Lucas claims also for it the maximum efficiency. The operator’s box is exceptionally roomy, and regarding the general safety of the building, mention may be made of the fact that in the provision of eight exit doors the requirements of the act have actually been exceeded.


Dark and, during a tour, crowded in here.


See, dark.


The projector is downstairs in the shop.

Once inside the theatre, the visitor must be impressed with its sire and general beauty. The auditorium is 91ft by 60ft., with a height of 38ft., and having once taken a comprehensive view of the building, one’s attention is specially attracted by the superb colour design and effects of the ceiling. There are no fewer than 42 panels of different designs, most originally and elaborately decorated in beautifully-blended colours of blue,. gold, buff, and French grey, the it whole presenting an effect that is infinitely pleasing. The ceiling may certainly be regarded as a triumph of artistic blending of colours.


LAUNCESTON’S NEW THEATRE. The Auditorium of the Majestic Theatre, Brisbane-street, Launceston, Northern Tasmania, on the opening night.
Weekly Courier, 14 June 1917


The auditorium, or what we think of as the actual theatre, is divided into two storerooms (and the lower part is the shop). It’s a little odd to see the decorative theatre features amongst all the shelves and boxes.

Most extensive and effective also is the system of ventilation. Through the roof go special ventilating shafts, and in the side of the building also is such provision as will ensure the certainty of comfort in this important aspect. Relief to the walls is afforded by 14 columns of the Ionic style of architecture, beautifully finished. The proscenium opening measures 30ft. by 25ft., and decorations in a rich design of pale blue, gold, aluminium, and a pretty shade of green tend further to emphasise the fact that there has throughout been exhibited a quietly artistic and cultured taste.


The projection room is on the other side of that wall.

The balconette round the circle is of similar design, and altogether the general scheme of colouring may be calculated to please the most exacting tastes. Accommodation is provided for over 1500 patrons -450 in the dress circle, 700 in the stalls, and 300 in the back stalls. All the seats in the dress circle and stalls are up holstered in leather of a pretty red shade, and are fitted with springs. Throughout the seats are of the tip variety, with backs shaped in a fashion to ensure the maximum of comfort, and those in the back stalls are provided with arms. Something which immediately strikes one is the entire absence of columns of any description. The dress circle has been constructed in such a way that it is supported by steel brackets, and the result of the method of construction generally adopted is that every seat in the theatre commands a first-class view of the screen. The whole of the dress circle has been carpeted in a design of red and blue, and the ail in front of the circle upholstered with the same class of leather as that used in regard to the seats.

In the design and construction of the stage Mr. Lucas has had in view the provision of such ample room as will make possible its utilisation for the purpose of production of any description. The lighting of the auditorium is upon an elaborate scale. There are ten globes, each of 400 candle-power, ensuring great brilliancy [since replaced]. Special attention has been paid to the lighting of the back stalls. Ample room is provided for the orchestra in an area the floor of which is nine inches below that of the auditorium. There is a slope of about four feet in the entire length of the building, giving a clear view from every part to every patron.

Towering to a height of over 70ft., the front of the building is 10ft. wide. It is of totally new design, and may be perhaps most aptly described as along the lines of Grecian architecture, with a glimpse of the Parthenon in the upper portion. There are six oriel windows, and the general effect is altogether most imposing. For the full width of the front there has been constructed verandah built without supporting columns and lit with eighty globes, giving on aggregate of 4000 candlepower. The two shops have already been let, and occupied for some time past.

In the erection of this distinctly notable edifice Mr. Lucas has, as far as practicable, requisitioned materials of local productions. The whole of the seats were made in Launceston. The building has been inspected by the Chief Health Officer, who expressed himself as highly pleased and satisfied with the manner in which all the requirements of his department had been complied with by Mr. Lucas, who, it will be remembered, de. signed and built the Princess Theatre, which was officially opened on August 30, 1911. The Majestic has been sold by Mr. Lucas to a local syndicate, and arrangements have been made for the first performance to take place at the matinee on Saturday afternoon. The acquisition of the Majestic by a local syndicate is understood to involve the closing, temporarily at any rate, of the National Theatre, which, it is understood, will be sub-let to visiting companies as opportunity may offer.

Examiner, 31 May 1917


As an addendum, the star rails here apparently came from the Brisbane Hotel, next door, and the marble stairs in the Old Brisbane Arcade (former hotel) came from the theatre.

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