Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Hoyts Regent Theatre


Cedric Ballantyne and built by James Porter & Sons.


George Street


Built- 1928 Demolished- 1988 (site remained a vast hole in the ground until 2004)


Inter-War Free Classical




This was a fantastic building with a wonderful interior. The roof was removed  in the eighties, thus allowing the interior to deteriorate to the point that demolition was allowed. The lot then sat empty for over 20 years.
The beautiful 1928 Regent Theatre was yoinked down in 1989 during the middle of the night amidst protests from the general public. Since that particular case, the SCC changed the ruling so that now you have to apply for a demolition certificate. The Regent was owned by The Fink Family (aptly named) and stood where Foster & Assoc.'s Regent Place now stands.
Above- the neighbouring buildings (Hoyts and Village Greater Union cinemas) in the late eighties.
George Street’s cinema strip has undergone many drastic facelifts and overhauls, particularly since 1971, when the Trocadero dance hall was demolished to make room for the Hoyts cinemaplex. In 1983, two more cinemas, the Rapallo and the Paramount, were razed by their owner Greater Union to make way for a more modern moviegoing experience: the Greater Union cineplex above.

By the early 1990s that west side of George Street contained only the big three cinemas: Village, Greater Union and Hoyts. Around 1999, the Village was demolished and all three joined forces in the greatest union of all to form one giant megaplex. The Greater Union above was absorbed by the Hoyts complex and until 2005 operated as a joint venture. Now, Event Cinemas (formerly Greater Union) runs the entire cinema.

When the Greater Union building became a part of the Hoyts complex, the facade was brought into line with the Hoyts look. Today, almost nothing remains of the Greater Union building…
Above- sitting quietly empty in the late eighties.
The Regent Theatre was Hoyts' showcase "picture palace" in Sydney, designed by the distinguished architect Cedric Ballantyne and built by James Porter & Sons.

Located at 487-503 George St, Sydney, near the Sydney Town Hall, it stood next door to the famed Sydney Trocadero dance hall, which was demolished in 1970.

The Regent operated as a cinema for most of its life, but from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s it was a popular venue for music concerts and stage shows, and in its final years hosted many large-scale musicals and performances by the Australian Opera and Australian Ballet.

The gala opening was on 9 March 1928 with the film Flesh and the Devil starring John Gilbert and Greta Garbo, the theatre closed with a screening of the documentary Ski Time on 26 May 1984. The last live performance was by American musician Ellen McIlwaine on 19 May 1984.

Demolition commenced in late 1988 after a court decision upheld the lifting of the permanent conservation order by the then Minister for Planning and Local Government.

The slump in the Sydney property market that followed meant that the site remained a vast hole in the ground until 2004, when work finally began on a new high-rise building complex.

Many of the theatre's fittings were sold at an auction in 1990, and can be found in a number of locations around Sydney and NSW. A lightweight plastic replica of the Art Deco crystal chandelier from the Regent's foyer now hangs in the foyer of the nearby The Metro Theatre; redeveloped from a cinema, it is now the city's leading rock music venue. The fate of the original chandelier, from which the Metro's copy was made, is unknown.
This was Hoyts premier showcase movie palace in Sydney. Designed by the distinguished architect Cedric Ballantyne and built by James Porter & Sons it opened its doors in the heart of George Street in March 1928.

There had been a theatre planned on this corner site from about 1914 with many architects having an interest in the plans. The site was owned by J.C.Williamson, Australia's leading theatrical producer who already had other Sydney live theatres and weren't particularly interested in building another. This is why the planning went on so long and passed through so many hands, most notably architect Henry White. Williamsons eventually decided to build the theatre and immediately lease it to Hoyts Theatres Limited. The interior decoration was to be completed in a Hoyts house style similar to the other Regents' planned or already completed in other main cities of Australia.

This was one of the most desirable sites in the city, being at the rise of a slight hill running up to the City Square which contains a Cathedral and Town Hall. It had direct access to the major bus routes which stopped outside the theatre and also to the underground railway beneath. It was originally intended to occupy the entire corner site but the building right on the very corner was a small branch of the Commonwealth Bank who had no interest in losing their prime location. It was decided to build around the bank so the theatre had a side extension into Bathurst Street planned for dressing rooms.

The facade in George Street was Italianate in style and decoration. Monumental pillars and pediments soaring above a glittering bronze and glass marquee. Horizontal and vertical neon signage and urns. There were a selection of small shops along the massive George Street frontage with the main entrance to the lobby beneath the arch in the marquee. You stepped into a triple height lobby with a marble staircase and walls faced in marble. Above you hung a spectacular Art Deco crystal chandelier made of thousands of glass balls cascading down like a waterfall. This was the only evidence of deco in what was otherwise Italian Renaissance furnishing throughout.

The Regent for all of its life as a movie palace was the flagship showplace for Hoyts Theatres who were later directly owned by 20th Century-Fox. All of Fox's biggest hits opened here and many Australian premieres were held at this theatre. This was reflected in the lavish appointments internally. The seats were comfortable, there were acres of subterranean powder rooms and plenty of refreshment areas and the foyer space was plentiful with many real antique pieces to delight. CinemaScope was introduced for Christmas 1953 and thereafter the most popular films played this theatre.

During the 1970's J.C.Williamson decided they would sell the property to offset the cost of rebuilding their major Sydney live theatre that had been destroyed by fire. Hoyts were pulling out of any old buildings they operated and embarked on buiding one of the first multiplexes right next door to the Regent, so they had no interest in buying. The theatre was put on the market and did not sell, being passed in with a top bid of au$4.5 million. The building was then privately sold to a Sydney entreprenuer who continued leasing the theatre to Hoyts until their lease expired.

At various points in its career The Regent hosted live entertainment and after the loss of Her Majestys to fire in the 1970's there were regular live shows interspersed with film presentations. The Regent lent itself well to this task with an orchestra pit and a wide proscenium. There were stage facilities that were adequate but some poor sight lines and few dressing rooms.

It was decided to rectify the situation and after lengthy investigation the new owners spent millions upgrading the theatre. Sight line issues were improved, the foyers repainted in a dramatic scarlet with a gold trim. There were new bar areas and offices created within the old George Street shops and the bars opened into the rear of the stalls. The stalls was fully carpeted and reseated. The exterior cleaned and restored including the marquee. The dressing room block into Bathurst Street was completed finally and below on the street level an expensive retaurant opened. The only thing that could not be addressed was the lack of a good deep stage. The Regent was redeveloped around some of the theatres live engagements so they were still upgrading into the 1980's.

At this point the new owners started being offered enormous incentives to develop the site. In spite of the live theatres' success the owners were basically money oriented and decided to sell. When the public got news of this the government became involved and placed a heritage order on the building. The construction unions blacklisted the site in an attempt to preserve the building. There was a very active group inaugurated to fight to save this grand theatre for the city. The owners were at loggerheads with the planning authorities and state government and resented being told they could not develop their site so they shuttered the building, stripped it and left it to decay.

What the owners were waiting for was a change of state and local government which they eventually got and with it and much money changing hands at the highest level, the theatre was eventually approved for development. The city was already owned another decrepit movie palace (The Capitol)that they didnt know what to do with, didn't want the Regent and so agreed for the demolition to take place as quickly as possible so as to enable a high rise to be built before the coming Olympics of 2000.

The grand lady of George Street came down with much anger and hysteria from the campaigners and the site was levelled in about three months during 1990. Due to an unforseen slump in the property market the site then sat vacant and neglected for years while the new owners waited for the market to improve. The site was still a hole in the ground for the 2000 Olympics; an eyesore and embarrasment to the city council and state governement who had approved the demolition of a beautiful civic amenity.

It is only recently (in 2006) that construction work began on the site which had been and empty plot of land for 16 years!

Porter Faulkner
The Sydney Trocadero in Sydney, Australia, opened with a full-dress gala in January 1936. It was the main venue of Big Band jazz orchestras, with the resident Trocadero Orchestra under the baton of Frank Coughlan, and the All Girl Trocadero Band.

Often referred to as "The Troc", it operated as a dance and concert hall until 1970 and was the favoured venue for many university and school 'formals', as well as hosting many important local rock and pop concerts during the 1960s.

It was closed and demolished in 1970, replaced by a modernist cinema complex owned by the Hoyts group. The closure of the venue is commemorated in the song "Deep Water" by Australian singer-songwriter Richard Clapton.

The stylish connotations of the name "Trocadero" derive from the Battle of Trocadero in southern Spain, a citadel held by liberal Spanish forces that was taken by the French troops sent by Charles X, in 1823. The battle was commemorated in the Place du Trocadéro, Paris, and the monumental glamor of the Parisian site has given rise to a variety of locales bearing its name.

In London the Trocadero Restaurant of J. Lyons and Co. opened in 1896 in Shaftesbury Avenue, near the theatres of the West End. It offered magnificent in an Opera Baroque style, and the various Trocaderos of the English-speaking world have derived their names from this original, the epitome of grand Edwardian catering.

Consequently, Trocadero is the name of several restaurants and clubs throughout the world: see Trocadero (disambiguation).