FILEF First Nations Peoples: What Recognition

Join us for an infomative night with a great line up of guest speakers.

History Week 2017 – POP

Join us for an exciting history week program across the Inner West

All Events – Book here

History Week

Annandale Royal Theatre – memoirs and a demolition in 1960

Situated on Johnson Street the Royal opened in 1925 with seating for 1,333

patrons. This theatre screened revival programmes for a number of years.

When local residents heard that the theatre was to be sold, they immediately

organised a large petition to try to save same from closure. Unfortunately

this was not successful and the Royal closed in August 1960.

Demolition followed and a service station now occupies the site.


In 1912 the Annandale Theatre opened in Johnston Street, in Johnston Street, near Booth Street. It was much more convenient for North Annandale folk, and Waddington’s lost its appeal. Built by Messrs Schell & Tome, the Annandale Theatre was open-air, with timber seats, iron sheets and timber front and sides. The picture screen faced west and silent films were accompanied by a pianist. The new theatre was built around the old building.

My earliest recollection of the Annandale Theatre dates back to I remember the name of Mr Schell but knew the Tome family. Mr Tome conducted the business, Mrs Tome attended to the ticket box, son Car 1 supervised, and daughter Netta played the piano. Mr. Pickard collected the tickets and also supervised.

A red concrete floor and mirror-walls formed an entrance foyer where easel display-boards advertised coming films. In the foyer’s centre ‘and above a mirror-walled ticket box, were large-framed coloured photographs of Norma Talmadge, Constance Bennett, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore, Charles Chaplin and Mildred Harris. Strong wire-meshed partitions protected the foyer after closing times and informed patrons of coming films. Swinging double timber gates, manproofed with barbed wire, surmounted with hoardings advertising the current week’s programmes. There was a timber lockup confectionery shop inside the double gates on the Booth Street boundary.

The screen was on Johnston Street boundary in a galvanised-iron building. The sliding galvanisediron panels were kept open except in very cold weather. Unexpected rain

created a panic, sometimes the manually operated wire ropes jammed, the audience cheered and urged the harrassed wire pullers to hasten.

On each side of the entrance foyer, asphalted space surrounds led to two wide entrance doors and gave access to two-thirds of the theatre’s asphalted floors and aisles. The rear of “up-the-back” of the theatre had flooring boards. Access aisles to “up-the-back” were provided by meshed wire partitions and enclosed the “cushion seats” and “chairs”. Admission price was threepence “up-the-back” to wooden benches with back rests. The access aisles were complemented with two smaller aisles and divided the 16 seating into three blocks. The graduated flooring provided tiered seating. The operator’s box was at the rear of the centre block, and its side door opened for coolness. The matinee children would watch ·the operator at work but it was noisy and we tired of that activity. The operator’s patience was magnificent: he ignored us.Admission price was sixpence to the front benches with leather upholstery and back rests. These were divided into two blocks by a middle and two side aisles and referred to as the “pushion” seats by the small children. Three silken cords across these aisles divided the cushion seats from the “chairs”, which cost a shilling, and an extra charge ofsixpence for a reserved seat.

For the full story follow this link to the Leichhardt Historical Journal No:5

Reference: Leichhardt Historical Journal No:5 June 1975

Author: Margaret Quinn

Image 1: A Pictorial History of Sydney’s  Suburban Cinemas Barry Sharp Volume 1 pg. 121

Image 2 A Pictorial History of Sydney’s  Suburban Cinemas Barry Sharp Volume 1 pg. 123


Group exhibition at the Balmain Watchouse

Heritage Festival 2017: Aboriginal Heritage Film Night

Heritage Festival 2017 – Lost Voices in Callan Park

Lost Voices in Callan Park

Enter: Instagram Competition Heritage Festival 2017 #instantheritage2017

Instagram Competition



Exhibition: Sign Language – The Lost Stories of Local Shop Signs by George Catsi

Sign Language – The Lost Stories of Local Shop Signs by George Catsi

Opening Thursday 2nd March  6pm for 6:30pm start
Exhibition @ Leichhardt Library

George Catsi will be exhibiting a limited number of his collection of signs taken from closed shops locally and beyond. Displayed as art, each sign holds a story of aspiration and ultimately closure.

George selects his signs based on an array of personal criteria – did the shop have personal or local significance or notoriety, use of outdated typography, old Perspex style signs with Perspex lettering, representing a passing such as the end of ethnic based shops in Leichhardt and Dulwich Hill or just a gut feeling.

George is a multi-disciplinary writer / performer / artist / academic who lives in Petersham and is part of Kimbo Studios in Leichhardt. He was National winner of Denton fellowship for excellence / courage in performance writing for his satirical theatre production called “I Want to Be Slim” (production 2017/8). He holds a Doctorate in Creative Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

The exhibition will be on display at Leichhardt Library from 1-29 March 2017.
Bookings for Opening Night
Should you have any queries, please call 9367 9266

1940s Annandale Short Walk

New Book Available on I tunes  and Kindle


During the 1940s Annandale factories and warehouses stored munitions and manufactured equipment for World War 2. This activity made Annandale a military target. Air Raid shelters were erected to protect workers, school children and residents…more

1940s Annandale: A Short Walk is the sixth book in a series which delves into the history of Annandale. Each book covers a decade of of Annandale’s History in the form of a self guided walk around the small suburb in Sydney’s Inner West.

“Escapologist” Darcy Dugan came to live in Annandale in the 1940s.

The end of the 1940s saw the amalgamation of Annandale, Balmain, Glebe into the Leichardt Council.

Marghanita da Cruz has been gathering an Anecdotal History of Annandale since 1998. In 2010, Marghanita began guiding historical walks around Annandale and publishing these as self guided illustrated walks.

Photograph Back Cover: Tony Grech, 25 August 2013

Jack’s Story a wonderful book launch

A crowd of 80 gathered at Balmain Town Hall Meeting Room for the launch of Jacks’ Story

The outcome of a Local History Grant from the former Leichhardt Council.

A well received publication on Jack’s story growing up in Balmain. With the assistance

of Rural Writer, Journalist and Author Asa Walquist, Jack has become a local star over night.

The book has been the top seller at Brays book four weeks in a row.

You can buy the book from Balmain Library or Brays Books rrp $15.00img_2291 img_2295 img_2297

Over the past four weeks, the book that’s been Bray’s Bookshop’s best seller has been a home-grown autobiographical memoir authored and privately published in paperback by a local octogenarian, John ‘Jack’ Thomson, whose entire life’s been spent in and around Birchgrove.

The book’s titled ‘Jack’s Story: Growing Up in Balmain’ and it’s on sale for $15:00 from Bray’s, with surplus proceeds from the sale going to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Of Scots descent through both parents, Jack’s initial connections were with Campbell Street Presbyterian Church.

He married a local girl at St John’s in Arthur Rix’s last years as rector.

Having had some help with editing and design, Jack’s book is a fluid and engaging read.

Its narrative reminded me of Dickens’s novel, ‘Hard Times’, though the prose is in contemporary language – and Jack’s story is actual and unfolds in the antipodes.

While the hardship that Jack experienced in childhood would seem implausible to the minds of today’s younger generation, it was all too common during the Balmain peninsula’s harsh interwar years, when the local population exploded to some 31,000 plus people, of whom most were squashed into overcrowded tenement housing.

(As head-lice abounded when bathrooms were primitive, meningitis killed innumerable children – as did tetanus, diphtheria, and tuberculosis.)

Jack’s father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when Jack was aged four.

He was committed to Callan Park Hospital for the Insane, where he stayed for the rest of his life and, according to Jack, very well looked after.

Jack’s working mother (on two thirds of a male wage) contracted tuberculosis and died when Jack turned nine.

Jack – effectively an orphan – was reared by a neighbouring family who’d taken him in (and that kind of neighbourly action was by no means isolated at that time).

His life progressively improved and he wrote his autobiography primarily for his grandchildren’s benefit but it’s been absolutely extraordinary the extent to which his book has captured the attention of a wide and diverse audience of readers.

One of the misspellings that has persisted into a reprint is that of Wally Pinerua, who operated a Darling Street pharmacy – at least until the late 1950s.

What made this pharmacy unusual was the huge red neon illuminated sign over the footpath awning.

Pinerua’s predecessor had bought Bayer’s patent for a prescription drug, heroin hydrochloride, which was highly effective in managing intractable pain in terminal cancer patients and patients who’d suffered severe trauma through injury or surgery.

As the addictive properties of the drug were well known at the time, dispensaries kept it under lock-and-key.

As the R & R boys on leave from the war in Vietnam used the drug recreationally, heroin thus became a prohibited narcotic.

Another misspelling is the name of the nearby general store, Gourlies.

John Williams.