The Timaru Herald

Cinematic history: The State

- – Nigel Gilkison

In the final part of our history of Timaru’s cinemas, we look at the history of The State cinema, which was located where the BNZ hasits business centre in central Stafford St.

Until the opening of the State in 1935, Timaru's filmgoers divided their attention between the Majestic or the Regent, which screened six nights a week, or the “Bughouse”/Theatre Royal, where films played on Fridays and Saturdays.

Amalgamate­d Theatres made the decision to open a Timaru cinema and the site chosen was a central Stafford St building then being used by Adams’ Motor Garage.

One of the apprentice mechanics at the garage, Lyall McLauchlan, would later return to this building as the theatre manager and remain in charge of the State for 34 years.

Amalgamate­d stripped the interior of the garage and redevelope­d it into a 750-seat cinema that The Timaru Herald of the day noted was “striking for the modernity of the design, featuring a pleasing interior, an air of intimacy and an uninterrup­ted view of the screen”.

It had a long, narrow auditorium and a moderately sized foyer, and so patrons would queue from the ticket box right up Stafford St.

In the boom years of the 1940s and 1950s, the theatre was staffed by a manager, four or five ushers, a cashier, a projection­ist, two cleaners, two lolly boys and the staff at the privately operated sweets stall.In the early 1960s, the State featured lunchtime screenings of the major All Black matches overseas.

Invariably, the films were weeks after the game, but Timaru people turned out in their thousands to see them.

The State closed in January 1985, when the Stafford Mall opened.

The State’s distinctiv­e veranda has been replaced, but the building remains, serving yet another purpose, as part of its ever-evolving storied history.

 ?? ?? The former State building on Timaru’s Stafford St.
The former State building on Timaru’s Stafford St.

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