Henslowe Irving / The Victoria Theatre, Devonport

Henslowe Irving has been appointed by Devonport’s Victoria Theatre Trust to assist in creating a sustainable and successful future for the theatre.

Miles Gregory will work alongside The Victoria Theatre Trust Board on plans for the future development of the theatre, which was built in 1912 and is the earliest purpose-built cinema still in existence in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was built by American John Leon Benwell during the silent movie era, when up to a thousand people could be seated in the theatre.

The Victoria changed ownership several times during the 1990s and into the new millennium and has operated with varying degrees of success. In 2001 it faced conversion into apartments and there were a number of attempts by local groups to retain “The Vic” as a live performance and film venue.

Following the energetic efforts of the Victoria Theatre Trust, the North Shore City Council bought the building in 2006.

In 2009 the current Trust successfully won the tender to lease the Victoria for 33 years.

The Trust intends to continue the Victoria as a cinema and performance venue, and has a long-term goal of extensive heritage restoration of the building.

“The Victoria is a superb theatre and cinema, which has the potential to be a real jewel in the crown of Devonport,” Dr Gregory said, “and I am very much looking forward to working with the Trust towards plans to assure its successful and sustainable future.”