BEYOND THE TREE | At the Regal Picture Show with Grandma

The Beyond the Tree exhibition at Liverpool Museum includes a growing community tree to which you can add your own family history. Bring in photos of your family moments to be scanned, printed, mounted and added to the display. It's in conjunction with Liverpool Genealogy Society. Volunteers available Tuesdays to Saturdays to help with research and family enquiries. The Champion is running a series of local family stories in conjunction with the exhibition. Pat will never forget her first visit to the Regal, with her grandma.

SADLY, TheRegal Picture Show on Scott Street at Liverpool is no longer, having been demolished in 2013-14 to make way for "progress". Originally known as The Butterfly Theatre, it had coloured silk curtains spread across the stage like butterfly wings.

From the 1930s to the 1950s this old theatre was the hub of entertainment for the people of Liverpool. Crowds flocked there to view their favourite film stars in their latest films. The Regal was very grand, greeting its audiences with an impressive staircase to the upstairs lounge. The carpets were deep red as were the plush velvet stage curtains. An organ played as patrons were led to their assigned sets by ushers and usherettes dressed in traditional grey uniforms.

My earliest visit was with my grandmother, Minnie Haerse. At interval three little girls tap-danced their way across the stage as they sang the old war-time favourite Three Little Sisters. I was mesmerised.

In the mid-1940s on Friday evenings, the theatre was often filled over capacity, with many patrons seated on the stairs. The New Look fashion was in vogue, with skirts being worn longer, shoulder pads, jewellery and a fur stole or jacket added for a touch of elegance.

Most gentlemen were also very fashionably dressed and were often seen smoking their cigarettes or pipes during interval, while a young boy with his tray of ice-creams in small buckets did a roaring trade as the crowds flocked to him for refreshments.

For the Saturday matinee kids queued from the front doors, often all the way down Scott Street. They sat mostly downstairs -- the closer to the front the better.

And it was necessary to go every Saturday because the serial always finished with a cliffhanger, leaving Batman, CatWoman or DickTracy in some perilous situation.

The main feature was usually a western, such as HopalongCassidy or Tarzan or a comedy with Abbott& Costello.

The children stamped their feet and booed at the sight of the villain and cheered loudly as the good guy came to the rescue. And, yes, often the traditional Jaffas were rolling down the aisles.

Great memories came from the old picture show, as boyfriends and girlfriends shared boxes of chocolates. It was a great place to catch up with friends or for a fun family night.

The Regal was an important part of our lives and gave us some great memories.

  • Free open day and barbecue lunch at Beyond the Tree on Saturday, July 27. Talks by ancestry expert Jason Reeve and family history researcher Linda Emery. At Liverpool Regional Museum, 462 Hume Highway (corner Congressional Drive). Please RSVP for group bookings: 8711 7126 or liverpoolregionalmuseum @liverpool.nsw.gov.au. Add your family's story to the exhibition, which runs Tues to Sat, 10am to 4pm, until October 12. Free.

24/07/19: ADDRESS AMENDED

This story At the pictures with Nan first appeared on Liverpool City Champion.

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