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Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas > Bingara - Roxy Theatre - magnificently restored - Kevin James Cork's Thesis

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by George Poulos on 14.06.2004

Bingara - Roxy Theatre - magnificently restored - Kevin James Cork's Thesis

Bingara - Roxy Theatre - magnificently restored - Kevin James Cork's Thesis
Copyright (2004) George Poulos & Kevin Cork

Some of the early history of the Roxy Theatre has been recounted by the (late) Kevin James Cork, a great phillhellene, and phillekytherian, in his unpublished MA Thesis, University of Western Sydney.

You are going to hear a lot about Kevin Cork, and his cinematic research, at

Writing in the 1990's, about Cinemas's that needed to be preserved in Australia. no 4. was the Roxy Theatre at Bingara.


From Kevin Cork's unpublished MA Thesis, University of Western Sydney.

"Chapter 5: Parthenons Down Under.

4. Roxy Theatre, Bingara,

In Maitland Street, Bingara, near the corner of Cunningham Street, stands the 480-seat Art Deco -style Roxy. It was not built without difficulties and it was never the success its originators hoped. George Psaltis, Emanuel Aroney and Peter Feros
...purchased a block of buildings in Maitland Street, Bingara, consisting of premises occupied by them as Refreshment rooms, and three other shops adjoining.

It is the firms[sic] intention of demolishing the existing buildings, and to replace them by modern and up to date premises. The work of demolishing that part of the buildings occupied by them as refreshment rooms is now in hand, and the building of modern premises will be proceeded with, the rebuilding of the shops will follow later.

Mr Psaltis informed me that he intends to erect a modern and up to date Picture Theatre...

The development was announced in June 1934 in the local Bingara newspaper. Plans for the shops and theatre received favourable comment. "When completed it will have an equal frontage to both streets, a symmetrical and well-balanced building, a splendid addition to the town's business houses." The architect for the cinema was W V E Woodforde of Sydney and construction of the cinema commenced in early 1935. It was subject to a number of alterations (believed to have been instigated by Psaltis) that resulted in extra time and expense. One of the alterations was to heighten the auditorium walls by 4 feet 6 inches to allow for the possible later inclusion of a dress circle. This brought about changes in decorative treatments of the main ceiling and proscenium.

It was not until the following year that the theatre opened.
Probably no event in the history of Bingara has caused more interest and excitement than the opening of the new Roxy Theatre, which took place on Saturday night last. The crowds which stormed the streets in the vicinity of the theatre...and long before the opening time, it was impossible to wend one's way through the crowd in front of the main entrance.

While its exterior is a basic rectangular interpretation of the Art Deco style, with pilasters and entablature and simple panelling to break up its cement-rendered wall surface, the interior is something different. Entry to the auditorium is through a long, narrow vestibule, the ticket box being situated in the middle at street entry (typical of USA cinemas). A short flight of steps leads up to the auditorium entry doors. The rear section of the auditorium is stepped and seating is fixed, whereas the front section is flat (for dances) and seating is moveable.

The auditorium decoration repeats the stepped motif of the facade, the ceiling stepping down to meet the walls at an entablature seemingly supported by pilasters. A wavy Art Deco frieze on the entablature and the perforated panels between the pilasters contrast with the angular theme. The wall panels comprise two elements, a central vertical row of five perforated, fan-like elements on each side of which are a vertical row of six rectangles containing diagonal strapping. The light fittings on the pilasters and proscenium splays are designed as angular vase elements. For Bingara, the Roxy is truly the "Theatre Moderne" (its advertised sub-title).

Reporting the opening performance on Saturday, 28 March 1936, the local newspaper said,
Great admiration was expressed at the beauty of the interior features of the theatre, and the wonderful coloured atmospheric lighting is certainly an innovation to Bingara. Changing from a soft white light to the effect of a rosy sunrise, the theatre gradually faded into soft blue lighting and the show was on.

And, the local mayor
...congratulated the management on their enterprise, saying that the theatre was a monument to the town and one of the finest buildings of its kind outside the city...Mr George Psaltis...received a flattering reception. He said it was the proudest moment of his life...He expressed...his appreciation of the support of the people of Bingara and district, whose friendship and encouragement had given them the inspiration to carry on in the face of all the obstacles that had beset them. They were but the servants of the people and they were out to give them the utmost value for their money, both in entertainment and service."

How inspiring it is that the dream of a fully restored Roxy Theatre has been realised.

Thank you, Kevin Cork, for your part in its restoration.

Kevin Cork is also the co-author of:

The Dream Palaces Part 1: The Atmospherics
Les Tod/Kevin James Cork, ATHS, Sydney NSW Aust.

The Dream Palaces Part 2: The Spanish Influence
Les Tod/Kevin James Cork, ATHS, Sydney NSW Aust.

And the following submissions to the Heritage Office (NSW) and the Australian Heritage Commission:

Thorne, Ross, Les Tod & Kevin Cork
(1983) Theatres and Cinemas In NSW. Stage 2 - Investigation of types of new uses for which theatre buildings have been successfully adapted. Sydney: Heritage Council of New South Wales

Thorne, Ross, Les Tod & Kevin Cork (1996) Movie Theatre Heritage Register for New South Wales 18,96-1996, Sydney: Department of Architecture, University of Sydney. A National Estate Project for the Heritage Office (NSW) and the Australian Heritage Commission.

Kevin James Cork, is also the sole author of:

"Twenty-four miles around Nelungaloo :the history and importance of cinema exhibition in pre-television times to a country area of central-western New South Wales"

Institution University of Western Sydney
Date 1994


Little research into historical, architectural and social significance of the picture theatre in pre-television rural Australian society has been undertaken. Taking a New South Wales country area (to represent a microcosm), this thesis records the picture venues and qualitative research material from past patrons and theatre staff.

The study 1/. establishes the environment created by a picture theatre 2/. shows that New South Wales was typical of Australia in film attendance before the 1960s 3/. introduces the Central-West subject area, and describes how data was gathered from available records 4/. shows the development of the picture venues within the subject areas 5/. gives 'life' to the occasion formerly associated with going to the pictures 6/. suggests the success ot the rural picture shows was a happy co-incidence: the exhibitors' desire to make money and the patrons' desire for a social experience (and entertainment).

A recommendation is made that one of the venues discovered during the course of research should be investigated for heritage listing. It is important that we should acknowledge the vital part that going to the pictures once played in pre-television days, especially in rural areas.

You can dowload this thesis at:

For further information on Cinemas in Australia, you are referred to the website of the Cinema and Theatre Historical Society, at:

For a list of books and magazines contained within that site, go to:

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