45 Pieces of Queanbeyan ~ Triumph Cinema Curtain


Triumph Theatre Cinema Curtain, 1925

Hand painted hemp
9m x 8m

This large hemp cinema curtain has hand painted advertisements for local businesses. It has a few holes but is in very good condition, considering its age.

Donated by Charles Hawes

One of Queanbeyan Museum’s most significant collection items, now approaching 100 years old, is a 1920s cinema curtain from The Triumph picture theatre and forms part of the story of the development of moving picture theatres and Queanbeyan’s entrepreneurs and reflects the businesses in the town at that time.

The Triumph and Early Cinema in Queanbeyan

The first films were shown in Queanbeyan in 1897! Edison’s Cinematographie showed the first films in Queanbeyan in the Temperance Hall and after that several travelling film shows visited Queanbeyan.  Ten years later Theo Cooper and Viv Lyneham began their Swastika Picture Company in the Protestant Hall – when The Triumph opened they ran a string of coloured electric lights from the corner of Monaro St to their theatre.

The Triumph began life as an open air stadium in the paddock by the Hawes family home in Crawford Street.  This open air cinema was behind what is now the Home Base store. A sign near Jordan’s Joinery pointed to “Pictures”. William and Percy Freebody screened the films from a tin shed beside the house.

In 1913  the pictures moved indoors when William Freebody opened Queanbeyan’s first picture theatre building. The weatherboard TRIUMPH PICTURE HALL AND SKATING RINK ran films and skating three days a week each… “the pleasure seekers popular resort with best management, seating accommodation, expert operator and talented musician”. Prices remained at 1/- and 6d. with children half price. The Triumph boasted “truly perfect pictures”.

In 1922 tenders were called to update The Triumph with a gallery, balcony, stage, dressing and supper rooms.  Our canvas curtain that advertised local businesses had to be hauled up and down by hand.

Early in  1925 Mr F.H. Boland commenced the  Star Pictures in St Gregory’s Hall in Monaro St.  Star Pictures advertised “civility, comfort and attention” and presented Thundering Dawn, Legally Dead, Regular Boy and an International Newsreel. Prices were 1 /6 and 1 /- plus tax. The Triumph, not to be outdone, advertised  “good engine, good operator, good music and good management”.

Freebody bought The Star at the end of 1927 and ran films at both theatres on alternate nights.  The introduction of talking movies at The Star closed The Triumph. In the 1930s he demolished the old weatherboard Triumph and built a fine brick building with blue velvet curtains and  soft leather seats upstairs and  celebrated by giving a free screening of Over the Hill to the Poorhouse, and inviting the town’s senior citizens.

The Triumph thrived throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The last major refurbishment occurred in 1957 with the purchase of a 28 foot screen for the new Cinemascope films. The dress circle and lounge with leather seats.  All downstairs seats were recovered.  A new green velvet curtain provided the finishing touch.  The first screening was The Ambassador’s Daughter on April 4 1957.

Despite a new milk bar, oil heating and air conditioning, Queanbeyan could no longer support two picture theatres. The Triumph closed in 1964. It was sold and demolished in 1967.

All photographs Copyright QDHMS Inc.