Monday, March 26, 2012
The Elizabeth Drive In originally opened as a Shandon Drive In cinema on 16th May 1958. It was designed to accommodate 600 cars and at the time of opening it was planned to provide stage seating for 200 people at a later date. The main building of the theatre is 100 feet long and includes a cafeteria 80 feet in length. It was built on land purchased from CJ Hayes. The screen was set up so that patrons would look west, taking advantage of the natural slope of the land. One session each night was planned with two main films. On family nights, Mondays to Fridays admission was 10/- a carload; on Saturday nights and holidays 5/- adults, 1/- children.
Some films first shown were; Bring your smile along, Texas rangers, A bullet is waiting, Jubal, Woman’s world, Lure of the wilderness. For the October holiday weekend in 1958 the drive in offered the following films; Titanic, Don’t bother to knock, staring Marilyn Monroe and Richard Widmark, River of no return again staring Marilyn Monroe and My Pal Gus. The opening of the drive in gave Elizabeth cinema patrons more choice of films. At that time the Elizabeth Football Club on Ridley Road also held regular Friday night screenings with a double feature. Patrons were enticed with advertisements for My Sister Eileen, The Glass Wall, The ship that died of shame, Simon and Laura, You know What sailors are, half past midnight and the Benny Goodman Story.
The Apex Club showed educational films for children at the Elizabeth North and South schools on regular evenings. The first of these at the Elizabeth South school stretched the accommodation to the limit as 450 children turned up.
The Salisbury pictures held at the Salisbury Institute advertised regularly during these early years. The choice of programs concentrated on westerns, horror movies and comedies. Films such as the killing, Gorilla at large, The girls in the red velvet swing, Picnic, Chief Crazy horse, Pony Express, the Sharkfighters, Johnny Concho and the Good die young were offered in 1958. After the opening of the Elizabeth Drive In the Salisbury Pictures in order to continue getting patronage from Elizabeth residents, offered a bus service from Elizabeth North and Elizabeth South in time for the evening showings.