The Gaiety Theatre had a brief, chequered life in May and June 1902. A local man, Mr. A. Broadbent had rented a warehouse in High Street Northcote from the local real estate agents, Stott & Bastings in March 1902.
In early June Constable Joseph Warren noticed a large crowd gathering outside the premises next door to Mr Sannders tailors shop. A charge of sixpence was being charged for entrance to the performance being held within.
The policeman failed to gain entrance to the performance but a witness, James Oats, reported the performance had begun at 8.15 pm and included singing, dancing and a pianoforte playing. He stated that the girls were dressed
“….within the bounds of respectability.”
The police pressed charges under the Theatres Act for providing a performance for the purpose of making a profit. They further argued that Northcote was already serviced with three public halls and the addition of a
“…shanty of this kind was not required as it attracted an undesirable class.”
Broadbent’s lawyer, Mr. Jamieson, argued that his client was not aware he was breaking the law and he made no money from the venture. However the magistrates found Broadbent guilty and a fine of £1 10s was imposed (a light sentence given that the maximum fine was £50).
Presumably the hall was closed after this court case.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.
Northcote Leader: 7 June 1902