Village Twin

Village Twin

Village Twin
Buckley Street, Morwell
Also known as: Maya
Showing films from 1956 – 1962  / 1978 – 1996

Two different cinemas have existed on the same site in Buckley Street situated between Church Street and Hoyle Street: the first was the Maya and the second the Village Twin.

The Maya opened its doors for the first time on the 6th April 1956. Rex Hamilton, a former picture showman from Yallourn, who had also managed Town Hall Pictures in Morwell for some time, owned the cinema. The Chairman of the State Electricity Commission, Mr R A Hunt, presided over the opening ceremony. Tickets for that evening were £1 for lounge seats and 5/- for stalls. All the takings that night went to the Latrobe Valley Group of Legacy. The opening event was broadcast on the Warragul radio station 3UL.

The building was constructed mainly from brick, however, the roof was an unusual construction, made from pressed straw and interleaved with felt and bitumen, meaning it provided good insulation both in winter and summer. At the front of the building there was a coffee shop with its own entrance. The foyer was accessed from outside via four wooden double doors and once inside the foyer there was a long ‘sweets-bar’ offering various refreshments.

The Maya originally had more than 860 seats spread across three different areas: the lounge, circle and stalls. Much of upholstery was Vynex, a plastic fabric, which was very popular in the 1950s – this included cinema seats and interior doors. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling in the inner-foyer and one wall was covered with a 25-foot mirror. The cinema screen was of a moderate size at 32-feet wide. Duosonic amplifiers provided sound. Above the main auditorium there was a small flat, presumably built for Rex Hamilton and his family to reside in.

The Maya remained open for only seven years, closing on 31 May 1962. The building was then used as a bowling ally for a number of years. In 1978, the building was re-opened as part of the Village chain of cinemas, and was called the Village Twin. The coffee shop at the front of the building had been removed and a new facade was added that had a much more 70s feel to it. In the bio box were two Victoria 5 projectors, for screening the now classic movies of the time, such as Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster ET (1982) and The Woman in Red (1984) directed and staring Gene Wilder.

The Village Twin operated until 1996 when Village decided to open a new cinema complex out of town at the Mid Valley Shopping Centre. The former Village Twin has been uses for a variety of purposes over the years as well as standing vacant for long periods of time; there has been at least one attempt to re-open it as a cinema, however so far this has been unsuccessful.

Back to cinemas

4 Responses to Village Twin

  1. My name is Richard I worked casually in the Maya theatre as a kinematic operator in 1957-8.
    Pay was 2 dollar per night.

    Across the road was the Karma. My day job was as a trainee Technician at the Morwell Telephone Exchange.

    The Maya was controlled by Rex Hamilton as was the Yallourn Theatre and the Yallourn Guest House.

    I lived at the guest house for a time, then moved to a P.M.G. house in Railway Ave Yallourn. Near the Live Wire newspaper office.

    We loved to eat at the West Camp. Good Tucker at a good price. At that time the Kernot Hall was in Yallourn.

    Other memories of Yallourn was ‘Ma Browns’ Hotel where the car dealer Kevin Dennis worked, I think he was known as Kevin Gowering in those days.

    The projection booths back then comprised two 35 mm movie projectors and one slide projector for the Hal Morgan ads. A turntable with amp for music. House light dimmers.

    The films came by rail in cans. Maybe five cans per movie, they were rewound prior to showing. In this process they were checked for bad splices etc. The two movie projectors were needed to allow the operator to seamlessly make the transition from one reel to another. Nowadays I understand the film or print as it is known is in one contiguous length and fed from a carousel.

    The slide projector used glass slides and had to be shown for 12 seconds at a time. They were glass to prevent them burning up from the extreme heat of the carbon arc lamp.

    In the city where there were numerous drive-in theatres and limited ‘prints’ of the films it was usual for as each reel when it was finished to be couriered to the next drive-in for use.

  2. I went there a few times. Me and my brother Jim used to collect the drink bottles from under the seats but bloody old Rex Hamilton used to chase us out so he could get them himself.

Did you go to the cinema here, know something about its history? Share your memories and add a comment in the box below.