FULL HOUSE: Martoos Ipswich “Olympia” theatre was crowded for a film screening and concert in 1922.
FULL HOUSE: Martoos Ipswich “Olympia” theatre was crowded for a film screening and concert in 1922. Contributed

Times Past: Evolution of entertainment

ENTERTAINMENT has always been a major factor in the lives of generations of people, but new ways of enthralling audiences came into being around 1883.

Here are just some of the ideas which Ipswich residents were privileged to see and hear.

1863 - In Ipswich an evening with a "Magic Lantern" was held in the School of Arts. Viewers witnessed scenes on the earth from chaos to man, photographs of Irish and Scotch scenery and the story of Mary Queen of Scots. All the pictures were "Magnificently shown by the Oxy-Hydrogen Limelight".

1891 - The people of Ipswich could marvel at Mr Thomas A Edison's latest perfected phonograph or talking machine. It was on display in the School of Arts.

The phonography itself "sang, played cornet, solos, recitations, bird whistles the voices of the living and the dead".

This machine was known as the "Wonder of Wonders" and one of the items on it was the voice of Lord Carrington, giving his farewell speech to Australia.

1897 - In March at the Ipswich School of Arts, Edison's latest invention, the "cinematograph" was on show.

It was considered the most marvellous invention of the 19th Century. It produced all life's movement by the aid of electricity and photography.

1900 - On display at the School of Arts in 1900 were life-size pictures of the war in South Africa, which showed the Queensland contingent for the day of embarkation to the present day (1900) there were battle scenes, photos of general and scenes of Boer life and the greatest Lime-light display ever witnessed in Queensland.

1902 - J C Williamsons "bi-Tableau" with a series of moving pictures was held in the Ipswich Town Hall (formerly the School of Arts) on May 20, 1902.

Among the pictures were - with Lord Roberts to Pretoria, Queen Victoria's funeral the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall & York at Marlborough House, King Edward V11 opening the Imperial Parliament and the great Spanish bull-fight.

1905 - Kivatsudos Japanese bioscope Company's Russo-Japanese war could be viewed in the Ipswich Town Hall in June 1905.

This was 10,000ft of moving pictures showing battles of Port Arthur, the capture of 203 Metre Hill, the battle of Mukden and other scenes of war.

There were also pictures of old and new Japan and Edison's train robbery - film 800ft long which took 15 minutes to screen.

1908 - On September 4 and 5, 1908 in the Ipswich Town Hall, Charles McMahon and Edward Carroll presented for the first time in Queensland by "biograph" the burns-Squires battle from handshake to knock-out. The fight had taken place at Rush Cutters Bay, Sydney on August 24 with 20,000 spectators.


The name of Edward Carroll, who had been born at Redbank Plains, began to appear in association with the release and showing of some of Australia's early film productions in the 1900's. It was Mr Carroll who formed the partnership of Birch, Carroll & Coyle which is still connected to many of today's cinemas.

1910 - The presentation of a pictorial representations of the dramatized version of Marcus Clarke's powerful novel "For the tern of his natural Life" was shown at Mr Edward Carroll's Continental Grounds in Limestone St on January 17, 1910. At least 3000 people attended the screening.

While on the subject of early Australian films it is interesting to note that Australia produced the world's first full length feature film "soldiers of the Cross in 1900. This film was 3000ft long and had a cast of 600 professional and amateur actors. It cost around 600 pounds to produce and was filmed by Major Joseph Perry, an Englishman.

1910 - Edward Carrol's "Kelly Gang Moving Pictures" were shown at Harrisville, Roadvale and Boonah in 1910. It was advertised that the "Pictures would be shown by electric light".

1911 - On January 16, 1911 at Martoos Grounds Ipswich, Mr Edward Carroll presented West pictures version of "Thunderbolt" the film told the true history of the notorious and picturesque Australia highwayman's incidents in the picture closely followed the life of thunderbolt as written by Australian author Mr Ambrose Pratt.

1910 - At the Lyceum theatre Ipswich on November 7, 1910 Kings Pictures presented "The greatest race event of the year - the Melbourne Cup. Thrace run at Flemington was attended by a crowd of 130,000 and the winning horse was "Comedy King" which won by half-a-head.

1913 - At Martoos Olympic theatre in February 1913, Carolls continentals presented "The chronemegaphone" - the pictures that talk. Records crowds greeted this wonderful invention.

1929 - Perhaps the greatest "Miracle" in the entertainment field in the 1920's was when Warner Bros Film studio had a virtual monopoly on the American talking film business. This technique opened up a world of hearing and seeing "live" entertainment on a screen and the first of such films to be shown in Ipswich was when Birch Carroll & Coyle brought "The Jazz Singer" starring Al Jolson to the Wintergarden Theatre in this town in 1929.

Someone at that time said "The motion picture industry is now undergoing a vast and far reaching metamorphosis and the future can hardly forecast all that it promises.

One thing is certain, however, and that is that it will be built around the talking picture".

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