Remembering the Days When Kedron Had a Cinema

Gympie Road in Kedron has long been a vital artery of population growth in North Brisbane and going back a hundred years, the WinterGarden Theatre was the centre of the local universe.

‘No internet, no TV’ meant that people found great joy in simple things. In Kedron, people would line up for long periods to luxuriate in the privilege of watching the latest silent movie to be released.

WW1 was in the past; post-war austerity and the Depression years were in full swing.

Charlie Chaplin was the George Clooney of his era, initially with his non-talking comedy movies, though some, like “The Gold Rush,” were later edited with spoken narration. Crime movieslike “The Unholy Three” and hero movies like Douglas Fairbanks in “Don Q-Son of Zorro” were presented by Louis B Mayer. Seeing the latest new movie was a big deal for Kedron people.

Kedron Wintergarden
Photo Credit: Chermside Historical Society

The WinterGarden Theatre in Kedron was built in 1925 at 278 Gympie Road, initially known as Kedron WinterGardens Pictures then later Kedron WinterGarden.

Its owner was Fanny Bennett, who saw the theatre more as a venue than a movie business. She would host a range of events there including the Kedron Flower Show.

Photo Credit: Trove

As picture theatre technology evolved (from silent movies to non-talking movies with music, to non-talking movies with narration, and eventually talking movies), each stage of the evolution required new investment.

The appetite to watch the latest movie was great. But when other picture theatres invested more than Fanny in their technology, this enabled them to show better movies whilst Fanny was stuck with showing the older, less sophisticated films.

As Kedron locals voted with their feet, going to better cinemas like those in Lutwyche and in the city, financial pressure led to the cinema being sold to the Brooks family who turned it into a joinery business.

At the time, it was known by locals as having one of the first TV sets in the area, placed in the front window possibly to attract passersby to taking an interest in their business.

Photo Credit: BCC-B54-17960

Gympie Road at that stage saw very few cars.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Lost Brisbane

Brooks Joinery thrived for several decades until the building was sold to the developers of the Kedron Bowl. Read about the Kedron Bowl here.