862 seat King Edward Picture Theatre opened on 7 December 1914. It is
the oldest surviving purpose built picture theatre in Dunedin, and
perhaps the third oldest surviving in New Zealand.
The interior of the
two storey brick theatre expresses the romance and escapism of early
cinema going, with its ornate plaster interior. The theatre has been a
community venue for over ninety years, and is an important survivor of
the early picture theatres in New Zealand.
architect Edward Walter Walden (d.1944) appears to be the designer of
the theatre, and it seems likely that Robert Wardrop (1858-1924)
completed the plaster work.
the late 1920s the advances in technology introduced the talkies into
New Zealand with the corresponding need to adapt existing cinemas.
1934 the King Edward Picture Theatre was modernised and renamed the
Mayfair Theatre ceased screenings as a cinema on 25
September 1966. The Dunedin Opera Company purchased the building in
October 1967 and converted it into a live venue with seating for 413.
More recently to allow more room for technical requirements the
seating capacity was reduced further to 407. In
2014 the Dunedin Opera Company gifted the Theatre to The Mayfair
Theatre Charitable Trust, to continue to operate the theatre as a
Community Theatre and to undertake redevelopment to continue use
into its second century.