The Geraldine Town Hall - 100 Years of Town History




Constructed by the Geraldine Borough Council and opened in August 1925, built as the Town Hall which also doubled as a picture theatre, front rooms on ground floor housed the Geraldine library and reading room, Cuth Knight was employed by the GBC as a manager/projectionist and the GBC fitted the hall out to show films, Town Hall replaced another hall in Geraldine which also at the time was used for film screenings, the old hall was a drill hall from WW1, There was also another cinema in Geraldine named Popular Pictures which was the Oddfellows Hall.

Silent films screened in the Town Hall with the proceeds going to the GBC, in 1931 the GBC voted to no longer continue to exhibit films as the cost of converting the hall to a sound theatre was very high and it was thought at the time by the GBC the sound films where not appropriate forms of entertainment, Films ceased and for several months in early 1931 the hall sat unused apart from the odd meeting and traveling show, GBC decided to lease hall to Cuth Knight whom agreed and re-opened with sound on film equipment, Cuth operated the film screenings under the name GERALDINE TALKIES then later GERALDINE MUNICIPAL THEATRE, in 1958 a new memorial hall and library was built next door to the Town Hall and with this the library moved out and the Town Hall became a full time picture theatre, At this time the former library area on the right side of the front of the building was converted to toilets (prior to this the toilets where outside accessed via the doors on either side of the stage) Cuth closed down the film screenings in 1967 due to poor attendance brought on by TV, the theatre being vandalised constantly and as Cuth had reached retirement age.

The Town Hall sat empty until August 1970 when Barry Mclauchlan from Timaru approched the GBC and asked if he could re-start film screenings, GBC agreed and the Town Hall re-opened as a picture theatre, Barry operated under the more modest name of GERALDINE CINEMA which is still used today. Barry re-fitted the hall out as it had been stripped, projectors, screen, carpets and sound equipment was installed, with the GBC installing fixed 2nd hand seating, the room formally used as the Reading Room was fitted out as a confectionary stall and later the ticket sales moved into this room (prior to this tickets where sold from the ticket box on the left side of the foyer which still exists.

In the late 1990s Barry started to slowly replaced the now very old seats which the GBC installed back in 1970 with old 2nd hand couches which where a cheap option compared to buying more cinema seats, these couches became a well known and loved aspect to the theatre and started a trend that would see other cinemas around NZ do the same.

Barry sold the theatre in 2010 to Derdrie and Calvin Mcceknie, in 2014 the theatre was sold to Patrick Walsh.