In the beginning – 1920s
The construction of The St. Kilda Memorial Hall was first proposed in 1920, soon after the end of the First World War. The first meeting to implement the proposal was organised by St. Kilda’s Councillor Unworth, where it was decided that the Hall’s activities should generate revenue devoted to the relief of distressed soldiers and their families.A design competition was held amongst architects who were themselves returned servicemen and the firm of Messrs, Hudson & Wadrop, who later designed the Shrine of Remembrance, was chosen. The builder was R.L. Phillips and the total cost, including land was 39, 492 Pounds.
The money was mostly raised by beach carnivals at Luna Park, special appeals and other entertainment. The St. Kilda Council contributed a special grant from municipal funds of 3,000 Pounds.
In 1924 the Memorial Hall was opened by the Governor of Victoria, the Earl of Stradbroke. The completed building was four stories high including 12 apartments to accommodate returned servicemen and four shops. The grand hall at the rear of the building could accommodate 500 for dancing and seat 1,000.
The inaugural event was an evening Ball and the venue was a popular as a dance hall. Following the rise in popularity of cinema, the grand hall was leased and converted into The Memorial Picture Theatre from 1927 to 1958, when it became affectionately known as ‘The Memo’.
The grand hall went on to become home to Telefil recording studios from 1961 to 1965 under the supervision of legendary sound engineer Bill Armstrong. Normie Rowe, Olivia Newton John and The Easybeats are some famous Australian performers who were recorded there.
1970s – 1990s
From 1974 to 1992 Pan Pacific Pictures leased the hall as a film studio. Until 1979 almost all of all Val Morgan cinema ads screened across Australia were recorded there as well as all the TV ads for TV Week, New Idea and The Women’s Weekly . These included weekly shoots of Bert Newton, Michael Pate, Pattie Newton, Debbie Byrne, Jamie Redfern, the cast of Homicide, Matlock Police, The Box and No. 96.
The St. Kilda RSL Club features a public bar on Acland Street, the Members Bar and Lounge Bar on the first floor as well as MEMO Music Hall operated in a partnership in the rear grand hall, click here for all information and contacts.
Memo music hall has hosted greats such are;
- Chris Wilson
- The Reefers and the Rebelles
- Kate Ceberano
- Renee Geyer
- Paul Kelly
- The Black Sorrows
- The Models
- and more!
The building’s 12 apartments, are still home to returned servicemen and are managed by the St. Kilda Memorial Hall Trustees.