The Lorne Cinema



Google Drive

Doug Stirling’s book

Video “Halcyon” days

Lorne’s original galvanized iron picture theatre on the foreshore land near Mantra, was built after an itinerant picture-show man visited Lorne in 1915. He was in financial trouble and offered his equipment for sale. The Dorman, Anderson, Stirling and Jarratt families bought him out, formed the Lorne Picture Company and opened their first theatre hall. Over the years changes in ownership (including the Stirling-Jarratt partnership) took place and eventually the Jarratt family alone became synonymous with the ownership and operation of the Lorne Theatre up until 1981 when Ken Todd took over.

Two earlier structures existed on the foreshore, built in 1916 and 1927 before the current theatre on Mountjoy Parade was built in 1936/37. The earliest films in Lorne were black and white and silent and were accompanied by suitable pianola music. The films were acquired in the early days by a connection with the Yarraville Picture Theatre. Eventually the hire of films was negotiated through various film exchanges. Early celluloid nitrate films were prone to catch fire and explode, numerous buckets of sand and water were always on hand in the projection room.

In the early days, the films in metal boxes were transported by train to Deans Marsh and then over the Otway Ranges in Mountjoy coaches. They needed winding onto projector reels and then subsequent re-winding. Intervals took place as films were being wound. A hand operated projector, carbon arc lights, a canvas screen stretched over a wooden frame and bench-seats eventually gave way to two electric motor projectors, which deleted interval breaks, improved screens, lighting, colour and movie sound.

Updated technology was introduced regularly and the padded leatherette seats were indeed a luxury! From 1937, with Lorne growing as a tourist destination, the new 600 seat theatre on Mountjoy Parade became a major entertainment centre until the arrival of television.

• Lorne A Living History by Doug Stirling 2004
• The Lorne Indendent, article by Susan Sutton, ‘Black and white to full colour, Geoff and Lyn Jarratt