Part of Port’s history up in smoke

Fire at the former Port Theatre, Bay Street, Port Melbourne Sunday 30 August 2015 - Courtesy MFB Facebook Page

Fire at the former Port Theatre, Bay Street, Port Melbourne Sunday 30 August 2015 – Courtesy MFB Facebook Page

Another piece of Port Melbourne’s history may have been claimed by fire. The building that was once the Port Theatre, on the corner of Bay and Liardet Streets, was severely damaged by fire last Sunday.

About 80 fire fighters took about an hour to bring the blaze, in the two-storey building, under control.

former Port Theatre, Bay Street, Port Melbourne

former Port Theatre, Bay Street

Housing a Telstra shop, a café and a massage parlour, damage is estimated at $2 million. The structural damage may mean that another bit of Port Melbourne’s history is lost.

The theatre was part of in Port’s entertainment scene for a number of years. The Standard mentions in 1915 that it offered “attractive changes of programme … The films displayed are the latest arrivals and include the newest war scenes, when available”.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.19.35 pm

It wasn’t the first time the brick building had experienced a fire – there was a blaze in 1924. The Argus reported on 9 May that with “cries of ‘Fire’,” “the audience made a wild rush for the door, and one woman sustained a fractured leg”. The fire started in the “operating box” during the screening of “The Governor’s Lady”.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.20.45 pm

Closing its doors in 1952, senior residents remember the theatre as the “flea house” and a place for a cuddle in the back stalls. There was nothing romantic about its replacement – a battery factory.

The theatre was built on the site of the Fire Brigade Hotel, once the site of the Foundry Hotel.

written by Grant Aldous

The Port Melbourne Theatre, C 1920s - PMHPS Collection

The Port Melbourne Theatre, C 1920s – PMHPS Collection

References
Facebook.com, (2015). MFB (Metropolitan Fire and Emergency… – MFB (Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board) | Facebook, viewed 2 September, 2015 https://www.facebook.com/Melbourne.MFB/posts/10153502853209178

1915 ‘PICTURE THEATRES.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 6 February, p. 3, viewed 2 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91163828

1924 ‘PICTURE THEATRE PANIC.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 9 May, p. 11, viewed 2 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4366265

Comments

  1. My Great great Grandpa Mr Alexander george Rogers was the original owner of the beautiful cinema.The beautiful old cinema was originally a hotel.Alex handed down the cinema to his son my great grandpa George Alexander Rogers.l believe the remains of the burnt out building will be restored and returned to a Hotel.Mr Rogers senior served in Parliment and was given a state funeral.

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