Around Armidale: Former cinema building

This building used to house Armidale’s cinema until the adjacent K-Mart development forced its closure in the mid-1980’s (I think) due to some problem with the cinema’s fire escape being closed off. The last film I saw here was Ghandi. The cinema was, at that time, run by the Wilkinson’s.

1 thought on “Around Armidale: Former cinema building

  1. margaret wilkinson

    It is correct that the cinema was closed after a technicality was found and used by all those involved in seeing through the development of the Kmart mall. Of those involved was the family associate who puchased the property, thereby allowing ‘the Wilkinsons’ to continue operating a viable concern. The family associate however was approached by New World developers and others involved and was offered around triple the purchase price of a few short months before. ‘The Wilkinsons’ in the months before closure were told by family associate owner not to pay rent but instead go ahead and commit to loan to finance refurbishment and relocation of projection room to downstairs area (thereby making more seating area upstairs) in lieu of rent.

    All the time negotiations were obviously already underway with New World Developers of Coles Complex. When community pressure was mounting to try and save cinema, a story appeared in the Northern Daily Leader quoting ‘someone’ that the current proprietors were behind in rental payments, a leak obviously designed to assassinate the character and reputation for honesty of ‘the Wilkinsons’.

    Moral of story: Don’t do business with ‘family’, trust noone – not even family or local council officials. The issue of fire egress could have easily been solved with a slight amendment to the design of the proposed development BUT Coles et al had other plans that actually involved the use of the cinema site. A beautiful old building with ornate ceiling and plasterwork, it was reduced to accommodating a rubbish $2 shop.

    Other family members even more closely associated with the ‘family associate’ did not approve of or support the tactics employed to oust ‘the Wilkinsons’ for a fast buck. ‘The Wilkinsons’ were deeply hurt by this episode, both only dying within last few years with neither really getting over this traumatic episode in their lives.


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