Talana Museum South Africa  


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Dundee Theatre

Mr Atwell opened a photography shop in Dundee before the Anglo Boer War.

He took photos of the British soldiers, and the Boer commandoes in the town during the war.

His first shop was where today the Dept of Labour building stands, in Victoria St, just up from the Royal Hotel. In 1913 he rented the bottom section of the Masonic Hall (Boswells) and started his bioscope business as well as photography. In the early 1920’s his rent was doubled and so he decided to  build his own premises.

This included a special theatre, cinema, dance hall and a tea room on the side of the building run by his wife. Completed in 1923, it also served as the Dundee public hall as there was no other hall large enough for public functions, weddings and entertainments.

Mr Atwell and his son, Leslie, kept a small herd of cows behind his bungalow in Wilson street. He used the milk for the teas, coffee, cake and ice-cream which his wife made. He later sold these cows to the Durhams and they formed the start of the Orange Grove Dairy herd.

The theatre had 2 entrance doors. It was through the side door that ”Africans” were admitted for film shows and the “white’ entrance was through the front. All films showed were hired from around South Africa.

He had a special ”give-away” fan made of parchment that was printed with a photograph of the exterior of the building as a means of attracting paying customers.

He retired in 1929 after 16 years in the bioscope and photography business.

The last bioscope show was held on 30 September 1929.

Sadly the windows and doors of the building have been modernised but the facade is still the same. The extension on the right side which served as a tearoom later became offices .