Before the establishment of the Surrey Theatre, Surrey Hills had two local film venues. The first venue, was the Surrey Gardens, the second was the Surrey Hall. (Caarp) The Surrey gardens operated its bioscope from a tin shed and outdoor screenings during the summertime commenced in 1917. The Baby Health Centre later occupied the original site of the Surrey Gardens.
In the 1920’s, the Surrey Hall at 101-105 Union Road began screening films silent films. (The Surrey Theatre) In 1891, the Surrey Hall was built for a Mrs Elleker. The hall was used for all sorts of entertainment. Musical concerts were held there, often featuring overseas artists. The Operatic society held many productions there and music teachers used the venue for their pupils’ concerts there. Electoral meetings, bazaars, patriotic demonstrations, gymnastic and athletic displays were also held in the Surrey Hall. (Surrey Hills: In Celebration of the centennial 1883-1983)
The Surrey Hall is best described in the article, The Surrey Theatre (2002):
A newspaper of the time described the building as one for ‘which the want has long been felt in Surrey Hills…One minute from the station, it will be sought after for concerts and entertainment.’ (The Surrey Theatre 2002)
In the twenties, the Surrey Hall screened silent films. Children sat on hard seats in the front rows. Adults were able to afford more expensive horse-hair padded seats in the back rows, which were raised about six inches on a small platform. Nearby shops included bootmakers, tobacconists, dressmakers and confectioners. Boys from the lolly shops sold their wares to patrons during the interval. (Surrey Hills: In Celebration of the centennial 1883-1983)
The Surrey Hall became the Rex Theatre and sound pictures were introduced, raising the status of the hall. (Surrey Hills: In Celebration of the centennial 1883-1983) The Rex Theatre closed just before the Surrey Theatre replaced it.