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Boomerang Theatre, 336 Ipswich Rd, Annerley, QLD, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Destroyed
Place ID 100325
Place File No 4/01/001/0357
Nominator's Statement of Significance
The Boomerang Theatre is significant: for being, until recently, one of the longest operating cinemas in Queensland; as one of Brisbane's most intact interwar theatres; for being the first theatre owned and operated by Roy Fielding, who became one of Brisbane's most successful independant theatre operators.
Official Values Not Available
The Boomerang Theatre stands at 334 Ipswich Road, Annerley where construction began in 1924. The majority of Brisbane's picture theatres were built in the 1920s and by the mid 1920s the movies had become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Almost every Brisbane suburb could boast of their own local theatre, with some suburbs playing host to two or three. At the time that the Boomerang was erected, the Princess Theatre on Annerley Road, and the Annerley Picture Theatre on Ipswich Road were already operating.
The owner of the Boomerang was Frederick Robert Roy Fielding who operated it in partnership with his brother, Ernest Edward. Title of the site was transferred to them in February 1915 when they were just seventeen and thirteen years old respectively. The land appears to have been vacant at the time construction began and was originally part of the Thompson Estate subdivision of 1884. The eventual shape of Annerley's development east of Ipswich Road was based on this subdivision.
Roy Fielding learnt his projection skills from spending most of his time at the Elite Picture Theatre (originally the Lyceum), in George Street and at the Yeronga Picture Theatre on Fairfield Road. At this stage, he was working for the Post Master General's Department in Brisbane, but in 1923 he decided to end his career with the Public Service and become a full time theatre operator.
Fielding had a difficult beginning to his career. At the time that he applied for his licence to screen motion pictures, four of the eleven Stephens Shire Councillors were shareholders in a rival theatre in the same area. He gathered support from other councillors, and studies the local by laws, discovering that any councillor who had personal business interests that could effect their decision making was required to forfeit their vote. Fielding was eventually granted his licence in May 1924. The theatre became a family run business as were most suburban theatres. In December 1932, Roy's brother and partner, Ernest, died, leaving Roy the sole owner.
The Stephens Shire Council received a copy of the plan for the Boomerang Theatre in August-September 1924. As the land was low lying, and there was not yet a stormwater drain along Ipswich Road, the council decided that the theatre could not be fully roofed. So on December 10, 1924, prior to final council approval, a simple structure with a fibrous cement facade, corrugated iron walls and an iron roof covering the rear section only, opened as the Boomerang Theatre.
The Council finally constructed a stormwater drain in 1926 which allowed the theatre to finally received its roof. At this stage further cosmetic work, such as lattice work around the proscenium and new curtains featuring the intertwined letters BT was also undertaken. Although the Boomerang could never compete with its inner city counterparts, it was always intended to be grander than the standard suburban theatre.
When talking pictures were released in 1927, Fielding was unable to afford the leasing costs of a sound projection plant, so he constructed his own, which worked perfectly for twelve months until he was able to purchase an authentic one.
Further alterations and additions were planned in 1933 when the Boomerang was redesigned to compete with neighbouring theatres. Art Deco was the popular style selected by commissioned Brisbane Architect Archibald Tathan Longland. In late 1933, the roof was raised and the Boomerang became one of the first suburban cinemas to boast a dress circle. This work was contracted to H Sanham. Although the dress circle had a ceiling at this stage, it appears that the auditorium did not. It also appears likely that the brick walls replaced the original side and rear corrugated iron walls at this time. In 1935, further work was carried out by contractor S S Carrick. This included a new facade with tiling and poster niches, an entrance vestibule with dressing rooms above, and electric signage on the roof. This sign may have been constructed by Claude Neon, as Fielding was a director of this company. On July 9 1935, the Telegraph featured an article that described and illustrated the new look Boomerang.
Further work was tendered for in late 1936. This appears to be the remodelling of the auditorium, which included the boxing in of the trusses and the installation of the existing fretwork panelled ceiling. Brickwork also replaced the side walls with the downpipes running on the inside as the building was situated right on the boundaries. Small changes occurred after this, such as the addition of an extra tier and clock to the front parapet by the late 1930s, and a new boomerang shaped sign by 1947.
Fielding was part of an industry that was extremely popular but also highly competitive. Each suburb or locality had its own theatre which advertised specifically in its immediate surroundings. One way of doing this was by advertising on sandwich boards that were carried through the streets. More interestingly, the theatre itself advertised the current feature by being decorated in the style of the film. Patrons would also participate by dressing up as characters from the film. As Fielding's mini theatre empire grew, he advertised more widely, flying box kites he had constructed and decorated himself at the Deshon (now Stones Corner) to promote upcoming features.
As the Boomerang became more successful, Fielding was able to expand his business to include Mowbray Park at East Brisbane (established 1915), the Hawthorne at Hawthorne (established c 1921) and the Odeaon at Chardon's Corner, Annerley (established c 1939). This enabled him to have greater influence with the film distribution companies, allowing him to lease many early releases. He also acted as an agent for other independent cinema operators such as the owner of the Star Theatre at Wynnum, Mrs Green and the owner of the Triumph at East Brisbane, Gordon Jones, eventually building up a net work of twelve theatres.
The Fielding Cinema chain reached its peak with the opening of the Planet Cinema at Camp Hill in 1957. However, with the invention of the new cinema experience, the Drive In and of television, theatre going became less popular. The Boomerang was eventually sold in 1985, with the bulk of Fielding's theatres being sold in early 1960s. The Boomerang continued to operate as a picture theatre until it was closed in early January, 1995.
The building is of rendered masonry and it built to the boundaries in all directions. It has a symmetrical two storey facade that conceals a number of corrugate iron gabled roofs.
The parapet is stepped, with horizontal bands to each step. The centre and uppermost step supports a sign which is boomerang shaped with a plaque underneath displaying the intertwined initials BT. The frame of what was once a clock is displayed centrally on the face of this step. The hopper windows beneath the clock have leadlight panels featuring a boomerang pattern.
The cantilevered awning is also stepped, with the word Boomerang in the centre step. This is flanked by two lanterns. The street facade below the awning is tiled, but has been painted over. The entry doors are situated centrally and are glass with a timer frame. Another sign, Boomerang Cinema is above the doors with the intertwined initials glass etched on either side.
The two side walls have parapets that step upwards to the rear. Timber framed hardboard hopper window shutters are situated within the walls and are of varying sizes. One the northern side are single storey additions to the building. These housed the male toilets and the flicker drome and are not included in the listing.
Internally the building has strong Art Deco features including light fittings, leadlight windows and plastered ceilings. the foyer and corridor to the cinema has decorative plaster cornices, Art Deco wall mounted lights and rendered mouldings.
At present the building consists of four cinemas, a cafe and foyer. The cafe is on the first floor and was originally the dressing rooms. The doors that connected the dressing rooms to the stage are still in their original position, although the partitions that divided the space are not.
The main cinema has a sloped concrete floor. The ceiling is of arched timer trusses that have been boxed in. Perforated panels line the ceiling between the trusses. Diamond shaped light fixtures are centred on alternate collar beam panels. The proscenium still exists at the street end of the building, and features rendered mouldings and the intertwined initials BT at the centre. Various types of theatre seating that has been collected from other theatres is in use, and includes hessian, vinyl and leather seats.
The upper and lower dress circle cinemas are behind the main theatre. The foyer to the lower dress circle has a plaster ceiling featuring two boomerangs, the intertwined initials BT and a floral border. The cinema has a coved ceiling with similar detailing and two early fans. It also has a raked concrete floor. The upper dress circle has tiered seating and some of the metal balustrade is still apparent. The ceiling is raked and features ventilation panels. The projection box, which is situated at the rear contains early projection equipment.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
Demolished September 1995.
336 Ipswich Road, Annerley.
Based on information compiled by the Department of Environment and Heritage on the Boomerang and on Brisbane theatres generally.

Report Produced  Mon Sep 22 01:06:47 2014