First Place In Nsw To Open A Drive-in

Newcastle Herald

Tuesday September 28, 1999

NEWCASTLE was the first place in NSW to open a drive-in theatre.

The Skyline Drive-in opened for business on December 17, 1956, on a 6ha site at Lambton, on land bounded by the old Wallsend tram cutting, the grounds of Rankin Park Hospital and Croudace St. It cost an estimated $200,000.

It had accommodation for 722 cars and a holding area for another 420 ( those waiting for another session).

The opening film was the then popular Three Coins in the Fountain.

Outdoor movies were not unknown in the district. In earlier years (including the days of silent movies) films were screened in public parks and playgrounds. Even Newcastle Baths was used to screen movies in the early 1950s.

Newcastle came close to having two drive-in theatres within minutes of each other. In March, 1956, Newcastle council approved a drive-in for Adamstown in Park Ave, now the site of Garden City. Nothing came of it.

In March, 1957, three drive-ins were planned for Lake Macquarie. They were off Pacific Highway, between Gateshead and Belmont North; at Gateshead; and at the then new township of Caves Beach. A licence was granted in October, 1957 for a drive-in theatre at Gateshead. It opened on February 20, 1958 as the Metro Drive-in. It was operated by what was then one of Hollywood's most successful film studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

MGM sold its interest in the drive-in in 1971 and it became known as the Gateshead Drive-in. The Skyline closed in June 1985 and by the end of the 1980s the Gateshead drive-in also closed.

© 1999 Newcastle Herald

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