Joyland Theatre

Joyland Theatre was a cinema built in 1916 and situated at 21 Beresford Street.

Bargain House, 23 Beresford Street, New Brighton
Bargain House on Beresford Street. Creator (cre): Darren Schroeder. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

In April 1916 Charles Marsh, an advertising agent, established a company to erect a picture theatre on the corners of George Street (Oram Avenue) and Beresford Street in New Brighton. Shares were advertised for residents of New Brighton to purchase. James Ainger, an accountant, was the secretary for the group of shareholders. Alfred William Owles, George Lelliott Cull and Frederick Kibblewhite initially showed an interest in the project. They were already directors of New Brighton Pictures Limited, which was planning to build another picture theatre on Seaview Road.

In May, the company was registered as the New Brighton Co-operative Picture Company Limited.

The tenders for the construction of the building were advertised in May and in June, with John Steele Guthrie being selected as the architect. The tender of J. Smith was accepted by the company directors for the construction of the building. 

The company offered the public the opportunity to name the theatre. Between three to four hundred submissions were made, which were eventually narrowed down to twenty five. The directors then held a meeting to select the name, with Joyland being chosen. 

On 5 December, the New Brighton Borough Council granted the company a license to open the theatre. Joyland officially opened on 11 December 1916.

Photographs show a brick building with a classical façade, topped by a pediment. Because lime instead of mortar was used in the mix, the facade developed a bulge. The theatre could originally seat 520 patrons and had a dress circle which could accommodate 160. A balcony was erected on the eastern side of the building, overlooking George Street. On the opening night this was used as a band stand. The operating room was rendered fire proof and featured a projector which allowed for a five reel film to screen without delay. The electricity was provided by the Public Works Department from a transforming plant in Beresford Street. 

One of the first films shown was The Little Gipsy. As well as being a picture theatre, the building also hosted theatricals, exhibitions, weddings, and meetings. On 1 October 1921, the theatre was sold to Frederick Kibblewhite who purchased it on behalf of a syndicate. In December 1921, architects John Steele and Maurice James Guthrie advertised tenders for extensions to the theatre building. These were completed in May 1922. The alterations included a supper room, a dressing room, and the seating number was increased.

In July 1924, the theatre was advertised for sale. It is possible that the syndicate which originally purchased the theatre in 1921 was in liquidation, as by June 1925 the owners of the theatre and land, Joyland Syndicate, were in liquidation. On 18 June 1925, Joyland Limited was founded by Kibblewhite, W. W. Vaughan, J. Kermode, J. Ainger, G. L. Cull, J. S. Guthrie, A. Owles, D. F. Mann, and W. Birnie with the intention to purchase both the land and theatre building. 

In 1931 the theatre was updated to allow it to show “talkies” (movies with sound). It reopened on 20 June with James Galanis as the proprietor. A feature by a New Brighton plumber, M. D. Dann was a rock pool with iridescent spray set in front of the screen.

By 1935, the theatre was managed by Suburban Cinemas. Under their management the theatre was renovated into a modern theatre and reopened in June 1935. The exterior was now lit by a neon light, the first to be installed in New Brighton. As part of this renovation it was renamed the New Princess Theatre.

In October 1964, the building was auctioned. By March 1965, it became Nelmes New Brighton Auction Rooms. Between 1975 and 1991 it became Bargain House.

By 2010, the building was owned by Julian Sanderson and Sandra Upston. They initially planned to restore the building to its origins as a cinema but instead decided to convert the building into apartments. Julian Sanderson was on the top floor of the building when the 22 February 2011 earthquake hit. He survived but the building was irreparably damaged. It was demolished later that year.