Sandringham

Opened: December 1962
Location: Tulip Street Sandringham
Capacity: 990 Cars
Screens: One
Operator: Sandringham Drive-in Theatre P/L - Mark Josen
Closed: 1984

Brief history:
Sandringham never did anything by halves. Fondly remembered by Melbourne's bayside community, it was Melbourne's only true independent drive-in during the 1970's and 1980's and one of the biggest. Unlike the US, most major Australian picture paddocks were ultimately taken over by one of the large chains - Village, Hoyts, Greater Union, BCC, Wallis and Ace. Sandringham was built and run by a quartet of businessmen, Mark Josen, Sam Alonni, George Hardwicke and Harry Halperin.


Christmas 1962, somebody better spray those weeds!

A gala invitational affair with a preview screening of "Devil At 4 O'Clock" entertained the over 1,000 guests in attendance at the opening. The drive-in was built in the then record time of 12 weeks from start to finish. The screen was 115 feet wide and the projection booth was equipped with Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 (RK60) projectors capable of screening 70mm film. The drive-in's construction attracted much media attention from TV, radio, press and national coverage through Cinesound Newsreel. What brought the media to the now almost monthly occurance of a drive-in opening, was the three Christmas trees mounted in position at the top of the screen by a helicopter.


Great signs like this don't last long in abandoned drive-ins, 1989 five years after closure.

Sandringham was at various times advertised in a block by itself, with the Hoyts drive-ins, with Dendy theatres and finally with A-Z theatres - now Palace.
The new screen was only about one third of the original.

By the early 1980's hard times were upon all drive-ins and Sandringham was no exception. A clever plan was hatched to bring in some additional income whilst keeping the drive-in open. Almost half the property was sold off to commercial developers. This required the removal of the original screen and the errection of a much smaller screen a few hundred feet to the south. Never mind that the ramps, snack bar or projection room were not now correctly aligned to the screen, the product shown was mostly "R" rated sex and horror common to grind houses and drive-ins on hard times.


The entrance after closure, the snack bar and projection room can be seen in the background.


The demise of the original screen. This was taken sometime in the early - mid 1980's. The land where this screen stood was sold off for factory buildings, the new smaller screen was built next to this one. Photo courtesy Ross King.

For many years horses roamed the drive-in after even the reduced size lot failed to be financially viable. Today nothing remains but the memories.


Less than a third of the original lot remains here. The new screen, snack bar/projection building and ticket box can all be seen. The remaining ramps show the original orientation of the drive-in, ramps originally extended all the way to the road in the bottom of the picture. Factories at left and bottom were built on former drve-in ramps.

 

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