Old Canberran’s Old Photos – Part 3 – 2CA and the Canberra Theatre

johnboy 4 February 2009 24

This is the third part of a series of photographs taken by RiotACT reader Old Canberran on his Kodak Box Brownie in 1948.

These ones came in with the following note:

    I have attached pics of the original 2CA office at 4 Mort Street and the Civic Theatre at 6 Mort Street. 2 Mort Street (Cnr of Mort and Alinga) used to be the YWCA hostel and gym.

    The 2CA studio is where Steve Leibman started work as a radio announcer in later years.

    For some who may be old enough to remember, the next block in Mort Street consisted of Freebody’s Garage on the corner opposite the Civic Theatre, the 3 C’s cordial company (later Edwards Dunlop), the Canberra Dry Cleaners which used to be Grant’s Bakery and the Canberra Times Office formerly known as the Federal Capital Press.

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24 Responses to Old Canberran’s Old Photos – Part 3 – 2CA and the Canberra Theatre
caf caf 1:06 pm 05 Feb 09

old canberran: There’s a plaque up with the same basic facts at that location in Kingston.

Granny Granny 12:52 pm 05 Feb 09

No, afraid not. I can’t remember the name of the manager when my partner first started working there in 1981. He used to get X’s name wrong all the time! It was quite funny, like when Endora does it on Bewitched.

He also tried to discourage X from having pipe-dreams of becoming an announcer, so he would not be disappointed. Fortunately, X is not easily discouraged. The reality didn’t live up to the dream when he got there, and he took a cut in pay to work in the newsroom and move into journalism.

I knew some of the announcers and office staff better than others, of course.

Richard Perno gave us a TV when he heard that we didn’t have one. It was an old, battered up thing that died a horrible death when the little girl next door poured some water down the back to fix it. It sure was better than nothing, though!

old canberran old canberran 12:27 pm 05 Feb 09

Granny, you would probably remember Peter Carrodus then. Not sure if he was still there in the Jolimont centre.

Overheard Overheard 12:01 am 05 Feb 09

Memories. Did anyone else go in the sunflower-growing competition? You had to go into 2CA and pick up your special packet of 2CA sunflower seeds, register your details and then after a time they judged the winners. We had sunflowers growing in that spot for years afterwards.

Which reminds me: I STILL have that fracking 2CA album because ‘Ms Jill’ of many a 2CA topic last year vanished into thin air after a few threads.

Granny Granny 11:52 pm 04 Feb 09

2CA was a funny old station. They became so complacent that a friend once complained that he’d be singing along with a Top 40 song and really getting into it, when suddenly they would cut in with the races ….

: P

When 2CC came along they ate them up for breakfast and spat them out … and 2CA paid the ultimate price, becoming an overnight sensation of iconic dagginess.

Yet I still have fond memories of them.

They were the first place to employ my teen husband. The friends he made there gave him a leg up into a career in radio and journalism, which shouldn’t have been possible in a medium market such as Canberra in that era.

I will also never forget the program director dedicating a song to our newborn daughter shortly before he died. That song still moves me to this day.

They were located at Northbourne Ave and the Jolimont Centre when I used to call in there.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 10:40 pm 04 Feb 09

Great old photos, can’t wait for the next lot!

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 6:32 pm 04 Feb 09

Great photos. I love that lettering style too.

willo willo 6:07 pm 04 Feb 09

ahh….the hotel civic…….i used to love that old bloodhouse…..

old canberran old canberran 5:59 pm 04 Feb 09

It’s amazing what you can find on Wikipedia. Mort Street was not 2CA’s original studio……

Established by Albert John (Jack) Ryan, an AIF veteran and former signaller during the first World War, Canberra’s first commercial radio station – 2CA – began broadcasting with just a small 50 watt transmitter from the back of Jack’s electrical repair shop in the Canberra suburb of Kingston on the 14th of November, 1931. By 1933 the station had increased it’s transmitter to 500 watts and moved to a small purpose built studio on a low hill close to the Queanbeyan – Canberra road. The hill quickly became known as “Radio Hill”. By the late 1930s the 2CA studios were moved from Radio Hill to a new building in Mort Street, Civic, next to the Civic theatre. The transmitter power was increased again from 500 watts to 2,000 watts and moved to outlying Belconnen.[1] Over the years the 2CA studios would be housed in numerous buildings in Civic.

old canberran old canberran 5:53 pm 04 Feb 09

I can assure you that 2CA was at 4 Mort Street when I took that photo in 1948. The only building in the vicinity of 64 Northbourne Ave was the Hotel Civic and it took up the whole block. I doubt whether Pioneer coaches even existed in 1948 and the original Jolimont building across the road used to be the cop shop.

R. Slicker R. Slicker 3:19 pm 04 Feb 09

I think you’re wrong about 2CA’s location – it was at 64 Northbourne Ave and the Pioneer coach terminal was next door. It was closed down and redeveloped as the current office building in 1983 and 2CA relocated to the new Jolimont building almost exactly opposite. I worked at 2CA on Northbourne during the school holidays in 1975 a month or so before 2CC started.

old canberran old canberran 2:12 pm 04 Feb 09

“Out of the Storm” is correct. Well done Caf. It tooks me quite a while to work that one out.
To answer another question, the Civic Theatre was also used for school concerts and the like but only during weekdays when not showing films. I used to be a regular at the Saturday afternoon flicks as were most of the kids of that era. Cowboy movies and comics were all the go and an ice cream from the cafe at Civic afterwards.

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 1:48 pm 04 Feb 09

caf said :

I love the modernist typefaces used for those “2CA” and “CIVIC” building decorations.

You’ll still see plenty of older buildings around town using a similar Futura (or Futura-like) typeface. Schools and the like. But you’re right, they’re very much of their era.

mzih8u mzih8u 1:47 pm 04 Feb 09

Those photos are great!!!

Danman Danman 1:32 pm 04 Feb 09

I remember my time when i worked in the cold storage rooms in NAA – they had photographs from a cordial factory that used to be located in Braddon 🙂

Thumper Thumper 11:56 am 04 Feb 09

They really are superb old photos. How sad the old cimema is gone. it is just superb.

I remember before the NMA opened I worked as a curator on some of the photographic collections they had and one was a number of sepia toned shots donated by an average working class family and taken when the harbour bridge opened.

They were incredibly and unbelievably interesting, just like these.

Keep them coming.

abc abc 11:55 am 04 Feb 09

wasn’t the first 2CA studio in Kingston..

trevar trevar 11:37 am 04 Feb 09

Love your photos.

Was this theatre always exclusively a cinema or was it one of those buildings that could be used for stage shows as well as films?

caf caf 11:34 am 04 Feb 09

old canberran: I reckon the other movie might well have been Out Of The Storm (1948, d. RG Springsteen).

Thumper Thumper 11:31 am 04 Feb 09


my mistake, brain is working on something else.

Art deco…

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