When Motion Pictures Came to Nambour Town; Businessmen Vied to Capture Our Imaginations in Screenings

Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia), April 6, 2019 | Go to article overview

When Motion Pictures Came to Nambour Town; Businessmen Vied to Capture Our Imaginations in Screenings


WE OFTEN look back fondly at an outing to the pictures, and The Vogue Theatre in Nambour has housed many of those memories over the years.

It was a frustrating initiation into the picture-screening business for Louis Arthur Eric McCorkell, who, after his discharge from the Royal Australian Air Force where he attained the rank of LAC in 20 Squadron, searched for a town where he could set up a cinema.

On September 25, 1945, Mr McCorkell wrote to Maroochy Shire Council to apply for a licence to screen motion pictures in Nambour.

At the time, the Savoy Picture Company was screening pictures in the Maroochy Town Hall.

In his application, Mr McCorkell indicated his intention to build a modern theatre, which would be the first purpose-built cinema in the region, in Currie St, Nambour.

Mr McCorkell's application was approved by the council in its October 1945 meeting, subject to certain conditions and the submission of detailed plans of the "modern theatre", as well as its furnishings and the proposed site.

However, within seven weeks, Christy Freeleagus presented plans to demolish the Diggers' Hall and build a new Savoy Cinema on the site.

This new Savoy Cinema was to have high-class modern seating and large, elegant pendant-light fittings.

The council considered both plans, which were returned to the applicants for alterations, but were considered mostly satisfactory.

By February 1946, Mr McCorkell had slightly changed his plans. He wanted to construct his cinema in two stages: spending 500 pounds on a section to be completed by June 30, 1946, then spending an extra 500 pounds on a second section which would begin on July 1, 1946.

This decision was made to avoid war-time regulations which limited the amount private individuals could spend each financial year in building projects. The council approved this course of action.

This decision sparked an outraged letter to the editor of Nambour Chronicle by "Justice" on March 1, 1946 - criticising the decision as favouritism.

The letter contended that there was already a picture show in Nambour which screened every night at prices which were within the reach of all pockets.

Understandably, a reply was printed in the next week's Nambour Chronicle by "Truth", saying the criticism was most unjust. This began a battle of letters to the editor which were not published as they conveyed a similar theme.

Nevertheless, Mr McCorkell began construction. However, despite the fact that council had approved his entertainment and picture-showing licences, the Picture Theatres and Films Commission refused to issue the necessary government licence.

Construction continued and the building was completed in August 1947. It was named The Vogue Theatre.

An article in Nambour Chronicle on August 29, 1947, said that when "stepping into The Vogue Theatre from Currie St, one is amazed at what has been accomplished by initiative, courage and utilising the almost discarded to bring about an interior which bespeaks comfort, convenience and restfulness".

"The floor which has been specially treated with a bitumen-surface penetration dips four feet from the entry to the foot of the stage. At the entrance is a room on either side, one known as the "crying" room. …

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