Tom Garrick, Cinema Pioneer

Telegraph , Wednesday 5 September 1945


The death occurred yesterday of Captain T. R. Garrick  veteran sea captain and one of the pioneers of the film industry in Brisbane.

.. he has been actively associated with Garrick Entertainments Pty. Ltd., of which he was the managing director. The company has two Brisbane picture shows, the Lyric and the Rialto. 

Captain Garrick, who died at the age of 92, lived at Colton Street, Highgate Hill. He is survived by his wife, one daughter, and a grandchild.

Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954), Sunday 16 March 1952, page

Proving how popular quiz programs are with the public, capacity house at the Lyric Theater, West End greeted a national quiz programme on its first Brisbane visit recently. (Truth 16/3/1952)

Thomas Garrick was born in the Orkney Islands in 1853 and came to Brisbane in 1881 after having served as a mariner for some years. In Australia he served as First Mate and Captain of a number of vessels . After a period of farming and another stint at sea, he purchased and operated a horse drawn travelling picture show business in 1908 that  toured the Brisbane Valley.
Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Wednesday 19 January 1
In 1912 he established the Lyric Theatre at 158-160 Boundary street, West End. Initially partially open air , it was enlarged and enclosed around 1913. This theatre continued in operation until it was burnt down around 1967. As well as a movie theatre, it was used for other purposes such as political meetings, air raid warden meetings during World War 2 and for quiz shows broadcast by radio. My mother has memories of going to the pictures here in the early 1950s when my family lived nearby, taking my sister in her pram and sitting in canvas seats.

Lyric Theatre West End

Brisbane Daily Standard 24th April 1917

His company also built the Rialto Theatre on Hardgrave Road, West End around 1923 and for a while operated the “Arcadia” at Milton and the “Victory “at Taringa.

The Rialto was often used for live radio broadcasts in the 1940s and 50s. The Musical and Theatre Guild were based there in the 1950s and 60s. The Gibb brothers, later the BeeGees, performed at the Rialto in “Jack and the Beanstalk” in 1960. There were also frequent amateur performances in the theatre such as the Gang Show.

It was badly damaged in a storm in 1995 but the facade is still standing. I have fond memories of attending a performance of the “Rocky Horror Show” starring Reg Livermore in the late 1980s.

lyric theatre site

The Site of the Lyric Theatre at 158 Boundary Street, West End

Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), Thursday 6 May 1954

ENTHUSIASTIC reception for the Prime Minister (Mr Menzies) as he moved through the crowd at the Rialto Theatre, West End, last night to make his first 1954 election speech in Queensland. (Courier-Mail, 6/5/1954)

Rialto tyheatre 2016 ps

What’s left of the Rialto, 2016

Rialto Theatre


Captain T. R. Garrick Looks Back Over 85 Years

Thomas Garrick Papers, State Library of Queensland

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