The University IT Innovation team working on the 3D Virtual Reality Reconstruction of the 1891 Victoria Theatre are thrilled to have tracked down early records of the Victoria Theatre Company Ltd that have been sitting in a garage lost for the past 30 years.
Last week, on the information page https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2018/07/04/victoria-theatre-3d/ it was noticed that an article on the Victoria Theatre by Lionel Fredman published in 1988 was incomplete. When we went back to the original and redigitised it, we noticed an interesting acknowledgement at the end of the article that read:
“The Victoria Theatre Co. Papers (1886 – 1982) in eight bound volumes, in the hands of Mr. Bruce Brown, Accountant, of Newcastle, furnished information about the Company, leases and the building. “
Wondering how we were going to track down someone from 30 years ago was going to be a challenge, and so we rang every “B. Brown” we could find in the white pages, then, at the end of our tether, rang a former UON contact, who furnished the name of a accountant friend, who had an interest in books, and who would perhaps know of another “bookish” accountant such as “Mr. Bruce Brown”.
Well he, (i.e., Mr Ian Shepherd) certainly did, and on Wednesday gave us a call announcing he had in fact “struck gold”! Bruce Brown was still living; that he still had the records in his garage; that the plans of the Victoria are contained within the records; and here was his contact number!
Being an archivist doesn’t get any better than this!
Next best thing to having an actual time machine.
Mr Bruce Brown delivered the records of the Victoria Theatre Company Limited to the University Archives on the 20 July 2018.
He had acquired them in his professional practice as he was responsible for liquidating the company. Even though he had permission to destroy the records, he said he could never bring himself to do so, and so here they survive to this day.
They contain an unbroken run of minutes from the inception of the company as a syndicate and six plans relating to renovations proposed in 1921, which will certainly be of assistance to the IT Innovation team, as well as the key researchers on this project.
We thank Mr Bruce Brown for donating the records to the University of Newcastle, and Ian Shepherd for his work in making it all possible.
Victoria Theatre Company records – summary listing
Minute Book 1886-1893 (in rear: Share Transfer Register)
Minute Book 1893-1919
Minute Book 1919-1976
Minute Book 1976-1982
Register of Mortgages and Charges
Register of Directors
Directors’ Attendance Book
Share Register 1888-1934
Share Ledger 1938-1982 (includes Transfer Register)
Cash Book 1917-1926
Cash Book 1926-1939
Cash Book 1939-1953
Cash Book 1953-1971
Share Certificate Book 1934-1982
Certificate of Incorporation 11th March, 1887 (in envelope)
Embosser – Common Seal of the Company
Click on the images below to view the plans in higher detail.
This work has been undertaken by the University’s Cultural Collections (Archives) in the Auchmuty Library to support the work of Dr Gillian Arrighi, Convenor, Creative and Performing Arts, School of Creative Industries, who along with Stephanie Holm have been funded by the ARC, through the LIEF scheme, under the aegis of the AusStage Phase 6 Visualising Venues in Australian Live Performance project (LE170100003), a national project involving 12 universities, administered by Finders University.
We are attempting to track down as many original archival sources relating to Victoria Theatre, Newcastle such as plans, photographs and descriptions, with particular reference to the 1890s period in particular, to assist our UON IT Innovation team in the 3D reconstruction of the Victoria Theatre.
Gaute Rasmussen and Vendela Pento, Innovation Specialists conducting the work of creating the model, at a recent meeting of the Hunter Living Histories provided a background to the project, and the kinds of documentary material they are searching for, in order to create the most accurate model for the 1891 Victoria Theatre.
If you can provide any information, especially photographs, plans and documents to assist, please let us know.
Gionni Di Gravio
20 July 2018