Theatre Royal, Timaru - a century filled with the A & E.

The district's grand old lady of entertainment, Timaru's Theatre Royal, 118 Stafford Street. Capacity - Auditorium: 1023 and Foyer: 100
The Theatre Royal, Timaru window depicting the Timaru District Council's Coat of Arms, was commissioned and installed as part of the refurbishment of the theatre in 1993. The window was made by Helen Wilson from Geraldine. A new foyer was designed by Barrie Bracefield Consultancy, Architectural Designers of Timaru.

Evening Post, 24 April 1911, Page 3  New Theatre at Timaru.
Timaru, 22nd April. The Borough council last night approved the plans prepared by Mr. White, specialist in theatre construction, for a building to replace the present Theatre Royal. It is said to equal the Auckland Opera House, and will seat 1100 people. It is promised to be finished by Christmas.

Grey River Argus, 11 September 1912, Page 5
A New Theatre opened in Timaru. Sept 11. The new Theatre Royal erected on the site of the old one by Mr. W. Gunn, on plans of Mr. L. E. White, an Australian expert, was opened last night by the Plimmer-Denniston Company. It is handsomely fitted and finished, and experts say that it is satisfactory in every respect. Its seats 1250, (400 in the dress circle) and was quite filled. The circle was all booked days before. It is possible to add a second gallery in future. The stage is 70ft by 46ft, and 27ft in height and will accommodate the largest companies. There is plenty of dressing rooms, ventilators and panic exits. It is lighted by 4 K.W. generators driven by 35-h.p. gas engine, equal to 9000 CP. The circle and stalls are fitted with chairs, upholstered dark blue, and the curtain is of the same color and is said to be the finest procurable. The interior is handsomely finished, the ceiling being particularly fine.

 The Timaru Herald 4/9/2007
Timaru man Trevor Griffiths [1928-2010] takes another trip down memory lane, this time sharing his memories of walking into town when he was much younger.

Moving on down Stafford Street the Theatre Royal brings back memories of a different kind. Tucked into the front of the old building frontage was Mrs Mackay's Black and White Confectionary shop. It was distinct because the black and white theme was all over the inside as well as the street frontage. Mrs Mackay had the franchise to supply ice-cream and confections to the Majestic Theatre and the Theatre Royal. As a boy of 10 or 11 I worked for a time as an ice-cream boy at both places. Panic would prevail when both picture theatres had their interval at the same time. In a good week I took home 10 or 12 shillings for six nights' work. These days the Theatre Royal is nowhere near as busy as in those earlier times. All the modern electronic gadgets have taken their toll. The Switzerland Ice Ballet caused great excitement in the district as did the visit of the very popular Vienna Boys Choir. Probably one of the greatest functions held in the theatre was the Queen Carnival to raise money for the war effort. Many fundraising functions were held and the Royal was packed to bursting on many occasions. The selected "queens" were Jean Horwell for the army, Sister Adams and her deputy Florence Carney for the navy and Eileen Hetherington for the air force. The whole idea was extremely well supported and thousands of pounds were raised for the cause. Because my dad was a member of the drama league I was present at many performances of all kinds and often helped with shifting scenery, etc, back stage. Those of you who remember the Theatre Royal of the old days will recall the very heavy stage curtains that would go up and down quite a few times during a performance. From back stage I was amazed to see the curtain raised and lowered by one man only. His name was Joe Neeson [1906 - 1961]. At the appropriate moment he would take a short run and jump up five or six feet and bring the monstrous thing down on his own. He did this for many years.

Annual Carols by Candlelight Concert

It is now carols by glowsticks to reduce the risk of fire from candles. For a gold coin donation it is always a great night with singing in unison and and local groups e.g. school choir, soloists, Alpine Energy Brass Band, Salvation Army Band performing and all the money raised will go to a local charity. What Rotary essentially does is capture money from the community and filter it back in areas of need. In 2008 St Mary's Archdeacon Philip Robinson gave the Christmas message this year. Carols by Candlelight started at the Botanic Gardens in 1967, forty years ago, but the weather can be dicey. Later it was held at the Sacred Heart Basilica too, which was great. Now it is based at the Theatre Royal and we do not have to worry what the weather will be. The Timaru South Rotary Club in conjunction with the Timaru Ministers Association co-ordinated the night in 2008.  In 2010 Councillor Damon Odey delivered the mayoral message from Mayor Janie Annear, and Rev. Nick Mountford gave the minister's message. Concert-goers should turn up early to the Theatre Royal or risk missing out on a seat.

Bookarama is another grand fund-raising annual event for local charities usually held over a week in May or June sponsored by Timaru South Rotary Club for more than 17 years.  It is a massive volunteer exercise of collecting and sorting thousands of books over the last six weeks before the event. People donate books throughout the year. Public drop-off points are at service stations in Timaru and Pleasant Point during the month the event is held. Bargains are available. Truly rare and valuable donations are accorded the treatment they deserve. The books are all neatly categorised to make browsing easy for patrons. It is not just books — but also audio and visual media e.g. magazines, comics, music, games, puzzles, CDs, records, cassettes, DVDs and videos.


The Timaru Herald 19/03/2008
Theatre Royal seats upgrade put back 5yrs
New seating for Timaru's Theatre Royal has been put on hold for five years. Councillors were told that the auditorium seating was about 40 to 50 years old, and was reupholstered in 1993 as part of the theatre upgrade. Cr Terry Kennedy agreed the number of seats in the theatre could be reduced down to about 900. "You'll never fill it now with 1000." "The circle seats are very bad. They're not wide enough, and if you've had a hip replaced you can't sit in them." However, Cr Jane Coughlan said if the council was planning to spend a million dollars on seating, it should also be looking hard at its marketing of the Theatre Royal, to make sure it was well used.

The Timaru Herald 24/04/2010
A service lift, rather than a passenger lift, was installed in 2008-09, due to the small space available. The lift also has two access doors which need to be closed before it will work. To stay in keeping with the historic decor of the theatre, the lift shaft was placed on the outside of the building on a public access route, so sufficient space needed to be left for pedestrians to pass, which restricted the size of the lift. There is also basalt rock three metres below the theatre, which made drilling a plunge shaft for a hydraulic lift, which would have been less noisy, difficult.   

The Second Theatre Royal

Timaru Herald, 14 July 1877, Page 3 THE NEW THEATRE ROYAL
Some little time since we announced that Mr J.L. Hall had leased Mr Turnbull's Hall, Great South Road, for five years, with the intention of converting it into a first class theatre. The alterations are now all but completed, and by Monday will be quite so. The growing importance and increasing population of Timaru have made it evident for some time past that more extensive accommodation must at an early date be provided for the theatre-going public. The additions and improvements made to the Mechanics' Institute Hall last year were the means of supplying this want to a great extent, but even that was not sufficient. The public looked for a place of public amusement, which, while providing every comfort and convenience, would be m keeping with the size of the town. About two months ago Mr J. L. Hall arrived m Timaru with an excellent troupe, and he at once found that the Mechanics' Hull did not possess all the requirements necessary to enable them to appear in their proper light. The idea entered his head to erect a Theatre himself, but he afterwards, after making enquiries and examining the different places of public amusement in the town, decided to alter Mr Turnbull's Hall into one. He saw that this building could be converted (at some considerable expense, certainly,) into a theatre which would be unequalled, in comparison with its size, acoustic, and other properties, by any other in the colony. He lost no time m coming to terms with Mr Turnbull, and in perfecting his ideas, the result being that the hall in question has, within three weeks been converted into one of the prettiest little theatres to be found in the Southern hemisphere. And now before proceeding further, we will give a description of it : — The length of the whole building is 61ft., the breadth 35ft., the walls being 35ft. in height. It is provided with a dress circle, with stalls, and with a pit. The dress circle is upstairs, and is arranged in the form of a graceful horseshoe. It has a stage box at each end of the curve. It will accommodate about 150 persons, and is provided with a neatly finished and comfortable furnished cloak-room for the convenience of Indies. The entrance to the dress circle is on the left of the front of the building next to Messrs Loader and Green's. The stalls, as is usual in first-class theatres, are in the body, and situate immediately in  front of the orchestra. The entrance to them is on the right of the front of the building. The spice allotted to the stalls is 20 feet in depth by 35 feet in width. The pit is situate immediately behind the stalls, and occupies a space of 24 feet by 35 feet. The entrance to it is in the centre of the front. It will thus be seen that each portion of the house possesses a separate entrance, affording every facility for ingress and egress. Each entrance has also a distinct lobby and ticket office The orchestra has a space of 6 feet m depth, by 16 feet in width, allotted to it, and is provided with a splendid new square grand piano, made by Hardman, of New York. The instrument was imported by Messrs Gibbs and Clayton, of Dunedin, its original cost being 80 guineas. The stage is 28 feet in depth, and the proscenium 16 feet in width. At the back of the stage are four dressing rooms for the use of the company, besides a commodious green room. They are provided with every comfort and requisite. There is also an extra room on each side of the proscenium. It is needless for us to say that the whole of the theatre and its accessories are replete with every convenience and comfort. Mr J. L. Hall is so well-known, not only to the public of Timaru, but those of the whole of New Zealand, and we might almost to all the world (for he has travelled Europe, Asia, Africa, and America) that his name is a sufficient guarantee in itself that anything he undertakes will be carried out thoroughly well. He built the first theatre in Christchurch many years ago, and since that time he has increased in favor, until he now holds a position in New Zealand which no other caterer for the public amusement docs. We here say that we believe in good theatres. We feel assured that they are one of the greatest checks to the smaller class of crimes known in the civilised world. They provide a wholesome and enjoyable evening's entertainment. They draw people away from public houses and other haunts where money is spent without deriving any return for it. In fact, if we had space and time, we might quote the opinions which many of the ablest judges m Great Britain have publicly expressed as to the benefits conferred on communities at large by well-conducted theatres, but we believe the fact is well known already. The architect of the new Theatre Royal is Mr M. D. H. Duval, under whose superintendence the alterations have been carried out. Too much praise cannot be accorded him for the excellent designs which he provided. The contractor for the building of the home proper is Mr Neil Murphy, and the stage contractors are Messrs Heath and Whitmore. The decorations are being executed by Messrs Samuels and Amos. To everyone of these great credit is due for the manner in which they have carried out their work, but we cannot do better than leave the public to judge for themselves on Monday next, on which night the new theatre will be formally opened. As to the general effects of the theatre we shall postpone all remarks until we have had an opportunity of judging of them by gaslight.

Star 1 November 1881, Page 3
Mr Moss Jonas, proprietor of the Theatre Royal, is making extensive additions to the building, which, when completed, will render it one of the finest of its class in the Colony.

North Otago Times, 10 March 1883, Page 2 Timaru.
March 9. The new Theatre Royal, erected at a cost of over L3000 by Mr Moss Jonas, will shortly be opened. Its arrangements are said to be second to none in the colony.

North Otago Times, 26 April 1883, Page 2
Timaru. April 25. The new Theatre Royal was formally opened last night by an amateur operatic company. Mr Moss Jonas, the proprietor, and Mr Duval, the architect, were called before the curtain at the close of the performance. The improvements and alterations to the theatre have cost nearly L5000, and theatrical agents say that for its size, it is the best and most complete in the colonies. It will hold about 1000 people.

Timaru Herald, 17 May 1883, Page 8 RE-OPENING OF THE THEATRE ROYAL.
"CHILPERIC." The success which attended the re-opening of the Theatre Royal on April 24, by The Timaru Amateur Operatic Company, is, we hope, a happy omen of its future, and of many bumper houses and long "runs." Its proprietor deserves success for his enterprise in improving it regardless of expense, at time when money is far from being too plentiful, and in turning it, by the aid of Mr Duval, the Architect, into one of the most complete theatres of its sort in the Australasian colonies. Indeed, money seems to have been no object with Mr Jonas. He instructed Mr Duval to prepare the plans for a certain work, and see it carried out properly, and that the latter has done full justice to his employer and spent the large amount of money placed at his command wisely and well, there can be no doubt. In a word, while the lion's share of commendation is due to Mr Jonas for providing the public with such a building, Mr Duval, as the architect, and Mr Williams, as scenic artist, must also receive an unmeasured amount of praise. Nor must Mr Wm. McGill, the contractor for the alterations to the building itself, and Messrs Rose and Whitmore, for the stage and all its appurtenance, including no less than nineteen traps be forgotten. The stage "fixings," as they are called, are a host in themselves, and would do credit to a much larger theatre. Of the building itself we gave a full description some months ago. It may, however, not be out of place to mention that the alterations were commenced about the end of September last, and their cost, has been between £4500 and £5000. The fixed seats in the Theatre provide accommodation for 845 persons, but by means of chairs and so forth, over 1000 can be accommodated without crushing. The ceiling, the proscenium, the front of the dress circle and the entrance hall to the latter have yet to be decorated, the work having been delayed through the plaster not yet being dry enough.

Timaru Herald, 23 November 1886, Page 3 THE THEATRE BUILDINGS.
Within the last few days Mr Moss Jonas, the owner of the Theatre Royal buildings, has had his group of shops facing on the Main road considerably altered and improved. The old-fashioned, common glass fronts of the shops occupied by Messrs W. Gunn (chemist), and Farley (bookseller), were taken out, also that of the shop lately occupied by Mr Fruhauf, and new sashes and splendid plate glass fronts put in. A new bluestone entrance was also put into Mr Farley's shop, and the interior fittings altered for the better. Mr Gunn's shop has been thoroughly overhauled, repainted, etc., and the whole of the shops, when the lettering of the windows is finished, will make the part of the town they are situate in look handsomer than ever. 

Timaru Herald, 15 December 1886, Page 3
annual concert by pupils of the Timaru public Main and Side Schools took place last evening at the Theatre Royal, and was from an attendance point of view very successful. The theatre was crowded to excess, and the vast audience as usual took a deep interest in the pupils' performances. Previous to commencing the performance, the Garrison Band, under Mr T. Perry, played a number of delightful selections outside the building, their splendid playing being a theme for universal admiration. The Timaru Orchestral Society, comprising, Miss Salek (piano), Mr Wood (first violin), Mr Williams (second violin), Mr Huggins (clarinet), Mr A. Dickenson (cornet), Mr Hooper (double bass), Mr Hathaway (cello), played the music the cantata in a first-class manner ; also the overture " L'Aurole." Before separating, Mr Wood, the head master, returned thanks on behalf of the committee for the large attendance ; also to Mr Moss Jonas for so kindly giving the use of the theatre free of charge ; to Miss Salek for kindly presiding at the piano, and to the members of the Orchestral Society, and the Garrison Band, for gratuitous services.

Timaru Herald, 1 May 1896, Page 3
A great event in the social world in South Canterbury took place last night, when a brilliant ball was given by Mr and Mrs Moss Jonas in celebration of their Silver Wedding. Mr Jonas has for very many years been one of the most prominent men in the public life of Timaru, and closely united as his career has been with the growth and progress of the district, from both business and social points of view, it was eminently fitting that the invitations for the grand reunion last evening should be most liberally responded to and thus honour was done to Mr Jonas, and to his helpmate who has ever cordially supported all the movements with which her popular husband has been connected. In addition to well-known residents of Timaru, invitations were sent to Christchurch, Ashburton, Oamaru and Dunedin, and in almost every case these were gracefully accepted. The building used for the occasion was Messrs John Mill and Co,'s immense grain and wool store on the beach, and the arrangement of it was personally seen to by Mr and Mrs Jonas and family, who were ably assisted by Mr Mill, junr., and Mr T. D. Young, the representatives of Messrs Mill and Co. The store is of great proportions, and it may be mentioned as something unique that bales of wool representing a gross value of £7000 were utilised for the partitions between the various rooms. The main entrance was opposite the Atlas mill, the entrance hall being carpeted. To the left was a daintily furnished ladies dressing-room, and to the right a gentlemen's dressing-room. Light was furnished to these and to the hall by numerous Chinese lanterns, the gay coverings of which had a very fine effect, To the left, also, were card and smoking rooms, and at the end of the hall, a light refreshment room, very neatly arranged, and provided with ample seating accommodation. At the south end of the store was a spacious supper room, containing three large tables, which were beautifully decorated, and the menu showed that the greatest delicacies of the season and the choicest wine were bountifully provided. Lit by electric lamps the gaily decorated supper table presented a splendid appearance and did credit to Mr Budd's handiwork The whole, of the wool saleroom, 125 feel long by 40ft broad, was fitted up as the ball-room, the northern end being hand somely furnished as a drawing-room while the whole was most beautifully decorated with greenery, plentiful sprinkled with choice chrysanthemum and dahlias, and brilliantly coloured flags of all sizes and designs. The appearance of the room, which was lit by 28 electric lights, was the most brilliant ever seen m Timaru, and when the dances were in full swing the scene was remarkably pretty. The lighting, by the way was provided by a temporary in stallation fitted for the purpose from the dynamo of the Atlas Mill. The music for the round dances wag provided by the Timaru Garrison Band, win attended m full strength as a compliment to host and hostess for the many kindnesses received by them ; and for the set dances by Messrs Wood string band, the music being exception ally choice. The ball was a great success; in fact it was far and away the most successful ever held m South Canterbury, and Mr and Mrs Jonas received the most hearty and generous congratulations on the grand celebration of their silver wedding. The presents receive by the happy couple were numerous an costly, but in every case we feel our they were but tokens of more valuable good feelings and good wishes. The large company adjourned to supper shortly after midnight and after justice had been done to the excellent banquet provided, the chairman (Mr H G. Kerr) proposed the toast of "The Queen and Royal Family." He stated that as this was not a banquet in the usual sense there would be a very short toast list, and no long speeches. The toast was loyally honoured, and a verse of the National Anthem capitally sung. Mr Jonas was an impetuous man, and would drive ahead, sometimes rather recklessly perhaps, but he had a splendid check upon his impetuosity in Mrs Jonas, who was a splendid business woman. To his personal knowledge Mrs Jonas had on many occasions sympathised with and wisely advised her husband, and though she did not appear much in evidences she had assisted Mr Jonas very greatly by her business capacity. Some years ago Mr Jonas told him that the only bad business speculation he ever entered into was one he entered into against his wife's advice that was building a theatre for Timaru. However he built it, and has it now....

Timaru Herald, 16 February 1892, Page 3
A complimentary banquet was tendered to Mr Moss Jonas last evening by his business friends, as a token of their goodwill and esteem on his relinquishing the business he has carried on so many years in Timaru. The idea of giving Mr Jonas a social farewell of this kind proved very popular, and last evening between seventy and eighty gentlemen sat down to an excellent dinner laid in the Assembly Booms by Mr D, McGuinness....He was Mayor of Timaru for two years, and as mayor showed great energy in pushing forward town improvements. The Queen's Jubilee occurred during Mr Jonas' mayoralty, and by his efforts (ably seconded by Mr Halkett Dawson) the jubilee celebration at Timaru was one of the most successful in the colony. He also gave a Jubilee ball, and most liberally and generously provided for it, as he did for a mayor's ball previously, and another at the opening of the theatre ; all of them provided for with the same open handed generosity, and long to be remembered by those who were present as most pleasant entertainment....

How did the city of Timaru come to own the Theatre Royal?

Timaru Herald, 26 April 1876, Page 2
R. TURNBULL. Auctioneer. Thursday, April 27. At 12 o'clock. Freehold land near Timaru on The Kingsdown Estate. R. Turnbull instructed by Messrs Miles, Archer and Co., will sell by Public Auction at his rooms, Great South-road, Timaru on Thursday April 27, 5000 of freehold of the above named Estate, divided into farms of from 30 to 300 acres. [The auction was held at Timaru on 27th April 1876, in Richard Turnbull's new hall. Turnbull conducted the sale.]

The Timaru Herald. Friday, July 18, 1890.
For some years Richard Turnbull he was engaged in farming near Christchurch. In 1864 be joined Mr D. Clarkson, a connection by marriage, in establishing a general store in premise on the site known as The Corner. Mr Turnbull had entire charge of their Timaru business. He also with a true foresight into the future progress of the town, but with no prevision of the great disaster which presently befell it, constructed several buildings, cottages and shops, in the neighbourhood of The Corner. All went well with him till the misfortune of December, 1868, when, the great fire made a clean sweep of the principal part of the town, and seriously crippled Mr Turnbull, as well as others, financially. The Corner was rebuilt in stone, and the partnership being dissolved, Mr Turnbull carried on the business on his own account for about a year, when he relinquished it, and took up the business of grain merchant, building for the purpose the large stone store which has since been transformed into the Theatre Royal. He presently added the business of auctioneer, and giving up the grain store removed to George street, and thence to Beswick street, where he occupied premises for several years. 


Timaru Herald, 28 April 1876, Page 3
A public meeting will be held in Mr Turnbull's hall this evening, at half-past seven, for the purpose of promoting the commencement of harbor works at Timaru, and considering other matters of importance in connection with the port.

Timaru Herald, 6 June 1876, Page 3
Mr Charles announces that he will give entertainments tomorrow and Thursday evenings in Mr Turnbull's Hall, consisting of readings from Dickens' Christmas Carol, illustrated by dissolving views.

Timaru Herald, 10 March 1877, Page 3
M'ddle. Frauzini, whose wonderful feats on the bicycle have made her famous, appears at Messrs Stansell and Winter's rink, Turnbull's Hall, during the whole of next week. She is well worth seeing.
RINKING — Lovers of skating will be glad to learn that Messrs Stansell and Winter intend to keep the rink at Turnbull's Hall that was started by Professor Taylor, open permanently. The sport will be varied by occasional races for prize and exhibitions by professionals, and every effort is to be put forth to make the rink thoroughly attractive.

Timaru Herald, 12 June 1877, Page 2
TO CARPENTERS. TENDERS are invited for the FITTING UP of TURNBULL'S HALL into a THEATRE for MR. JOHN L. HALL. Plans and Specifications to be seen at my Office, Bowker's Buildings, where Tenders will be received up to SATURDAY, the 16th, at 1 o'clock p.m. The lowest or any tender not necessarily accepted. M. d' H. DUVAL, Architect, &c.

Timaru Herald, 28 January 1878, Page 2
THEATRE ROYAL, TIMARU. Under the patronage of the Mayor and Borough Councillors. South Canterbury Dramatic Club Will give their first Entertainment, for benefit of Timaru Fire Brigade, on Monday, January 28th, 1878

Timaru Herald, 27 March 1878, Page 3
The Theatre Royal. We learn that Mr J. L. Hall has disposed of the lease of the Theatre Royal, Timaru, to Mr J. R. Stansell.

Timaru Herald, 28 November 1878, Page 3
Sale of properties, this day, at 2 P.M.  R. Turnbull. Auctioneer. SITES, NURSERY GARDENS, &c. 2 STONE QUARRIES. LEASE OF THE THEATRE ROYAL.
IN TIMARU. The Good-will of the lease of the Theatre Royal, three years and a half of which are unexpired, held at a low yearly rental and subject to conditions of lease, to be produced at time of sale. The auctioneer calls special attention to the time and place of sale, viz : — Theatre Royal, Nov. 28, at 2 p.m. will sell by public Auction, at the Theatre Royal. Also at the Theatre Royal, Section 15 and 16 in the rising township of Hamilton, Fairlie Creek. Terms at Sale. Sale at 2 p.m.

Timaru Herald, 4 September 1882, Page 3
Mr J. R. Stansell wrote "While I was lessee of the Theatre Royal and the Hall belonging to the Mechanics' Institute, the Council decided to issue license for the halls used by the public. They arrived at their decision in the middle of the year, but made it retrospective, to date from January to December. I applied for a license for both halls in the usual way, and a refund of half the license fees, which I thought a reasonable request, and the Council held the same views, for they granted me the license and the rebate ; but Mr Town Clerk did not hold the same views, and made them rescind their resolution with respect to the license for the Theatre and the rebate of half the fees. The Town Clerk said I must alter the means of egress from the Theatre before he would sanction me having a license for it. Mr Duval as architect for me, submitted plans to the Town Clerk, of which he approved, and made the alterations according to the plan; and got a license. I thought after having put me to an expense of between thirty and forty pounds (and for no use) - he would have been satisfied ; but no. Towards the end of last year I happened to be in the offices of the Council, and the Town Clerk asked me when my lease of the Theatre ran out, and I told him in June, or in about six months, and he informed me that he should not be able to issue a license to me , unless I made further alterations. I pointed out to him the hardship it would be to me, and that I had the alterations made according to the plans submitted to him ; but he said he must have it altered again. The consequence was, the first chance I got I sold the remainder of my lease. If I had held the lease it would have run out on the 15th June last, and this is the 4th September, and no alterations, with the exception of of change of landlords. How is it done? I would not have troubled you with this matter, only it helps to show how the Town Clerk bosses the Council in his well-known plausible style, I am, &c, J. R. Stansell.

Timaru Herald, 31 March 1887, Page 3
Mr John L. Hall and his talented Perman's Australian Vokes appeared at the Theatre Royal last evening in "Fun on the Bristol." The house was a good one, but not such a "bumper" one as was expected to see welcome back such an old friend as Mr John L. Hall. The performance as a whole was one of the best of the class that has been given in Timaru for years. It is highly amusing and all the performers are clever ; the singing is capital, and the step dancing better as a whole than we have seen in any one company in Timaru ; and the whole performance, in short, is one at which one can spend two or three hours very enjoyably.

Timaru Herald, 2 April 1887, Page 3 The Theatre Royal.
Mr John L. Hall had the first theatre in Timaru built. He leased the premises, and found the money for the conversion of Mr Turnbull's hall into a theatre, and engaged Mr Duval to prepare plans for the necessary work, viz., the erection of a gallery for a dress-circle, and some wooden partitions dividing stalls and pit, giving Mr Duval fourteen days to erect the whole work. Mr Hall proceeded to Christchurch the very day he gave Mr Duval his instructions, and thus left the work entirely under Mr Duval's control. Mr Hall returned four or five days previous to the opening with his stage mechanician and scenic artist to complete the stage fittings and execute the decorations.

New Zealand Tablet, 27 April 1888, Page 29
Mr. J. W. White, solicitor reported that Mr, Moss Jonas, the Mayor, had offered the use of the Theatre Royal free for the holding of a public meeting. Mr. D. N. Ross had also offered the use of his hall free to the Rev. chairman. Both offers were acknowledged with thanks, and a resolution was passed requesting the secretary to convey the hearty thanks of the meeting to the gentlemen named. The Theatre Royal was accented as being the larger of the two halls. Mr. White was accorded a hearty vote of thanks for his services.

Timaru Herald, 13 June 1898, Page 3 SALES OF PROPERTY.
A series of sales of town, suburban and country properties was held on Saturday considerable interest being taken in several of the town lots which were submitted in the afternoon. There was a very, large attendance at Messrs Guinness and LeCren's rooms, when Mr Guinness offered the properties in the estate of Mr Moss Jonas, also properties belonging to the Assets Realisation Board, Rhodes' Trustees, Messrs Rutherfurd and Mee, and others. Plans of several of the properties were on view, and were well looked over. The first properties offered were those in the estate of Moss Jonas. Mr A. Bourne read the conditions of sale, which were very lengthy, and Mr Guinness then proceeded with the sale. He said that this was the largest property sale held for some considerable time, and such a variety of properties had never been offered here before. The first lot was 20 acres, at Kakahu. It was started at £10, and fell to Mr Wreathall at this opening bid. For one rood m Latter street, a nice section of good value, £100 was offered ; the section was passed. Next came Mr Moss Jonas' late residence, which is well known, on half an acre at the corner of Arthur and Theodocia streets, with house of 15 rooms. No offer was made. For a section in St. John's Wood, barely half an acre, £2 was offered, but Mr Guinness said he could not take this. £10 was then offered, but the section was passed, the fellmongery at Saltwater Creek was next put up, Mr Guinness emphasising the fact that the water supply is permanent, as it came direct from the town Pareora supply. No bid was made for it. The next lot was the Theatre Royal block, half an acre in the centre of the town, and among the best of business sites. Mr Guinness read the conditions, which showed that the shops were bringing in a rental of about £46 per month, and that the Theatre was let for £10 16s 8d per month. The property was sold subject to terms of rental, and to charges of mortgages and interest now amounting to £8050. The first mortgage fell due in September; the second mortgage could be paid off at any time. Everyone knew that the block was a valuable one, and its value was bound to increase. No offer at all was made for the property.

Timaru Herald, 15 August 1899, Page 2
Messrs Guinness and LeCren are to offer the Theatre Royal block for sale by auction at their rooms at 3 o'clock this afternoon. The block is one of the most important in Timaru, and comprises in addition to the Theatre Royal several valuable shops and offices. It is rumoured that several enquiries have lately been made about the property, and that the sale is looked forward to with much interest.


Mckenzie, Patsy Theatre Royal, Timaru: A Short History by Patsy Mckenzie Paperback. Pages 28. Publisher: Friends of the Theatre Royal. 2003

The beauty of the Theatre Royal had been an attracting factor.

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Page created June 2011. Updated 2021.