The Victory Renovations (1928)


The National building dates to 1921 when the purpose built 3000-seat cinema opened as The Victory. By 1928, The Victory was owned and managed by the newly formed Hoyts Theatres ltd who, in 1928 engaged architect Mr CH Ballantyne and builders Messrs. J. Reid Taylor and Sons to undertake extensive renovations.
The new look was revealed to the public on this day – 19 March – in 1928.

An article in The Argus on Tue 20 March 1928 tells the story.

“VICTORY THEATRE Opening after Reconstruction

“Directors of the Victory Theatre, St Kilda, recently decided on an ambitious scheme of reconstruction. The work has now been completed, and last night the new Victory presented its reopening programme.

The alterations and furnishing have cost more than 40,000 pounds – more than the original cost of the theatre.

The work of altering the building was begun last August and was carried out without cessation of the presentation of pictures until the last three weeks. The greater part of the money has been spent inside the building. The old narrow hall has been replaced by a large entrance foyer 48ft wide. The floor of the foyer is mosaic tiled and the walls are panelled. The stalls ate entered from either side of a wide marble stairway. The stairway leads into a promenade which extends the full width of the theatre – about 80 ft – and gives entrance at either side to the balcony stairways. The front of the building has a clear span of 80ft and the seating has been arranged so that every person sitting in the balcony will have a clear view of the screen.

“The proscenium is altogether new and the foyer is richly carpeted and furnished with settees, armchairs of Italian design, and built-in seating. The dress circle seats ate of a new design and the lounge chairs are set in a semi-circle and provided with loose cushions. Smoking will be permitted throughout the whole building. A special feature is the indirect lighting of the proscenium, where more than 1000 lamps are concealed in the coves and cornices surrounding the stage. With the installation of special dissolving and dimming apparatus the proscenium may be illuminated to a blazing mass of colour, or within a second fade to the softest and most pleasant of tones.

Last night for the reopening a special programme was presented, the chief feature of which was a prologue entitled “The Spirit of the Movies” produced by Mr Joseph Cunningham. The cast was headed by Miss Zillah Bateman. The arrival of Mr Bert Hinkler at Flemington on Sunday was depicted and the principal picture was The Magic Flame with Mr Ronald Colman and Miss Vilma Banky. Miss Virginia Valli took the chief part in the supporting picture, “Ladies Must Dress” (sic – it was actually called Women Must Dress). Music was provided by the Victory Famous Concert Orchestra of 20 performers, under the baton of Mr Mark Barrile. This programme will be shown for a week and in that time souvenir programmes of the opening of the theatre will be presented to those who attend.”