Patea Town Hall (Civic Theatre)

Patea Town Hall & Picture Theatre

Today’s photograph is of the Pātea Town Hall (also known as the Civic Theatre) on Egmont Street, whichstood just behind the Aotea Waka. It screened New Zealand low-budget films and Hollywood blockbusters. However, after the introduction of television the future of the Town Hall and Patea Pictures Ltd. was in doubt. In May 1915 it was decided to discontinue the municipal picture business and the hall was let for picture showing as before, and this arrangement continued until the impact of television gradually forced the Patea pictures out of business. Lessees from this time included Universal Film Supply Co. (for a few months only), L.K. Wilson, Conroy, World  Pictures (L. Campbell) from beginning of 1926, R.W. Haddow (Patea Pictures Ltd) 1928, F.H. Hoy (Patea Pictures Ltd) 1950.

From the mid-1960’s there was increasing concern at the decline in revenue from the Town Hall, resulting from the diminishing popularity of film entertainment. On March 22 1965, Patea Pictures Ltd. was allowed the use of the hall at the reduced rental of £20 per month for five nights per week in an effort to keep the pictures going. On August 26 of the same year the hall was made available rent free for screening Friday nights only on a trial  basis, the letting of the hall being directly under the Council’s control for the other nights. On May 4 1977 a letter was received from Mr. Hoy (Patea Pictures Ltd.) advising cessation of picture screening from May 15 1977. The Hall was demolished in 1982 after large cracks appeared in the walls and ceiling.

If you have more information about this photo or to order a copy, contact the museum on 0800 111 323 or, Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki Heritage Collection.

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