1924 View of Wooli Street, Yamba from the Yamba Hotel. The framework of the Doreena Hall can be seen behind the front of Apps’ Refreshment Rooms.
The Doreena Public Hall was opened on 20 September 1924 and ran from High to Coldstream Street. It was built and owned by Augustus Eggins, a carpenter of Yamba. It was in opposition to the Yamba School of Arts Hall which opened on 29 August 1907 and was used for dances and other social events including silent movies (with appropriate piano accompaniment) on weekends during the busy season from late 1925 onwards. Mr Eather of Grafton was permitted to show movies in the 276 seat theatre provided he supplied a bucket of water, bucket of sand and one blanket in the biograph box. Meanwhile, Lawrence Penn’s Travelling Pictures and Harold Gale’s Lyceum Pictures made regular screenings at Yamba School of Arts during the Christmas season
Talkies commenced about 1932 with Penn’s Touring Talkies at the School of Arts. In October 1936, Nellie Toyer of Yamba, wife of James F Toyer of Yamba, Mechanic, acquired Doreena Hall. James was in partnership with Phillip Morris Green, labourer and sanitary contractor of Yamba. The Hall was remodelled, a permanent screen was installed for the popular talkies and it was renamed the “Enterprise Theatre”. The theatre was managed by James Toyer and pictures were shown twice weekly but on every week night during the short period at Christmas and New Year.
In June 1944, Richard Henry “Harry” Apps of Grafton, Motor Garage Proprietor, and Daphne Marie Apps, his wife, purchased the Enterprise Theatre. They installed a “G.R. Brakell” screen and increased the seating capacity by 128 seats to 404. Pictures were continued to be shown twice weekly but 3 times weekly in school holidays and 6 nights weekly during the busy Christmas period. Harry was a keen photographer and made several videos of Yamba events in the 1950s.
They rebuilt the eastern end of the building in 1955 to accommodate a cinemascope screen. Films were now being shown three times weekly and nightly during the Christmas period. In April 1957, Lambrinos Notaras and Spiro Notaras of Grafton, Saw Millers and Picture Show Proprietors, purchased the Enterprise Theatre from Apps, showing films twice weekly but nightly during the Christmas period. They raised the ceiling at the eastern end of the building by 6 feet to accommodate a cinemascope screen in late 1958. From 1962, the impact of television was being felt and the number of screenings lessened to once per week in winter and nightly except Sunday in summer. From August 1972, Mervyn G Cousemacker of Ulmarra rented and operated the theatre until mid 1979. In August 1979, the Notaras brothers sold the theatre to William and Robin Coote who converted it to a glass (and aluminium) factory fronting Coldstream Street.
The Cousemackers bought land two doors up and in 1979 built the Surf and Sand Cinema facing Coldstream Street. After some years it was once again renamed Yamba Cinema.
Present day use of the old Doreena Hall building is by Repco at the eastern end of the building and Beachwood Cafe at the western end. The old entrance foyer is still obvious within the cafe.
1948 photo of Yamba Theatre and Bakery in High Street
John McNamara, Research Officer,
Port of Yamba Historical Society
14 June 2016.