AMID debate over Bayswater council’s heritage list roll-out, one veteran theatre lover couldn’t be happier to see Maylands’ Lyric Theatre finally given protection.
Former Maylands local Greg Lynch has had an illustrious career in film, and it all started watching the flicks at the Lyric back in the 1940s.
Now 79 and living in Victoria, he’d been urging Bayswater council to give the old theatre some formal heritage protection, having watched iconic venues like The Ambassadors disappear over the years.
He wrote a report on the architectural value of the 1923 building, created a mockup image of what its interior would have looked like from his memories, and referred the city to his written history of the place at cinematreasures.org
It has now been entered onto the council’s heritage list with a “Category 2” ranking, stating its history is important to the locality, it has a “high degree” of authenticity and “any alterations or extensions should reinforce the significance of the place”.
Mr Lynch says it’s “absolutely wonderful” to see it listed.
His love of cinema saw him gravitate to the industry at age 14. He left school and worked for Howard Keast, repairing film for 20th Century Fox. He’s worked across the country as an assistant projectionist, in film distribution, production and direction, for companies like Universal Pictures, United Artists, and then his own ventures.
He recalls back in the 40s and 50s in Maylands watching movies like Forever Amber and The Story of Three Loves (the film where actor Kirk Douglas met one of his many loves, Pier Angeli).
“I was a regular at the Roxy [Theatre] and a regular at the Lyric…It stayed very important to me.”
His next goal is to track down a photo of the interior from its days as a theatre. “I’ve combed the archives, I’ve gone to the historical societies.”
South ward councillor Elli Petersen-Pik welcomed the listing, having been keen on getting it heritage-protected since before he was on council. In April 2017 he’d encouraged people to submit requests for its listing when the heritage list was being reviewed saying “it would definitely be a huge loss of historical interest and character if this building (and its façade) were ever demolished”.
The building is currently owned by Australian Development Capital which purchased it in mid-2019.
ADC’s Rod Hamersley says there’s no firm plans for the site at the moment.
ADC also owns the Perth Girls School site and he says “certainly if you look at some of our other projects, we see the heritage aspect as being a value-add to whatever project we do. We like the heritage value of our asset, and we think it provides good character to the future development of that site”.
A consultation event is planned in the coming weeks and he says “it’s an opportunity to ask the community what they want to see… we think retaining the theatre and representing it in a more contemporary way might be an opportunity we’d look into”.
by DAVID BELL