From Short History of Tuncurry Memorial Hall by Alan Wright, President, Great Lakes Historical Society:
During the 1919-1920 period the people of Tuncurry decided they should build a hall firstly in memory of those who fought in the Great War of 1914-1918, but which would also provide a large meeting place for the community. Public meetings were held and committees formed, plans drawn up and a debenture scheme set up, together with a list of those willing to contribute.
In October 1920 a public meeting, chaired by Ernest Wright, agreed to build the Memorial Hall on Crown Land (now Fazio Park). Amongst those attending were T Mayers, A Hardy, W Gray, H Wright, S Wright, F Avery, F Dunn, D Corstorphine, H Mooley and D Ohma. The three Wrights, D Corstorphine, H Mooley and D Ohma were later gazetted as the first Trustees. The first committee meeting agreed to purchase tongue and groove timber from J W Breckenridge of Failford and logs from Big Island and from Wallis Island to be shipped to Wright’s Timber Mill and then on to the Hall site.
By May 1921 arrangements were being made for the dadoes to decorate the interior of the Hall. The insurance cover increased from £500 to £1,000, ultimately to £1,200, most likely due to the electric lights fittings (at first battery powered, later with power supplied from the Butter Factory), the Oregon seats and the piano, which were bought for £125.
The official opening was held in September 1921 with much ceremony, including a brass band, concerts (with one for children), dances, a woodchop and a chocolate wheel.
The Hall carried on with various ups and downs over the Depression Years. By 1934 Tuncurry P&C wanted to provide better education for its children and, as the Department of Education did not see the need, Harry Wright provided the funds for a High School to be run in the Hall.
From 1934 to 1937 there were regular travelling silent moving pictures (hence movies) shown in the Hall. Then local proprietor of the Bellevue Hotel, H. Beale, applied to the Trustees to show talking movies. The gala opening of the refurbished Hall/cinema on 17 April, 1937, screened the now classic Australian film Tall Timbers, shot in Bulahdelah and starring Shirley Anne Richards. Special guests were Bert Bailey (Dad) and Fred McDonald (Dave) from On Our Selection. Ms Richards later starred in the film Dad and Dave Come to Town. Kemble Thompson, the local long-time projectionist, was then paid 7s6p a week for his work, which included cleaning the theatre. Mrs. Wilga Wedlock sold hot soup on cold nights and ice creams in the summer.
In the 1960s TV at last arrived in Forster-Tuncurry and consequently the movies suffered. However, nothing daunted, Don Howard took over the lease in 1974. The first movie screened was Number 96, a not very successful movie take on the popular TV series. He again renovated extensively in 1981, repeating the original peaked roof in the additions so that we now see the familiar twin peaks. He showed the first Star Wars in 1978, hugely successful as each time it screened over the first four days it had a queue around the block. He installed one of the first Dolby Surround Sounds systems in Australia. He continued operating the theatre in the Hall until 1999 when he erected a three-cinema complex on Manning Street.
Today the Hall has reverted to a multipurpose facility, providing many entertaining and educational classes for the community and also providing a venue for weddings and other social events. It is managed by the Tuncurry Memorial Hall Trust under the auspices of the Department of Lands.
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