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Photo: King Edward (MayFair) Theatre Today

Leisure: Other Entertainment

By the 1920s other forms of entertainment had arrived to supplement the existing dances, socials, reading, handicrafts and hobbies and sports. Public picture theatres arrived at the turn of the twentieth century while listening to the radio became the number one home entertainment by the 1930s.

Boys running wildDuring the study period children still had plenty of free time and considerable freedom of movement. The movies cost hard earned 'pocket money' and the radio meant being inside but empty paddocks were everywhere across South Dunedin and proved ideal for building huts or playing 'cowboys and Indians'. Some children, mainly boys, ran wild. Before the First World War there were worries about 'larrikins' around David Street in Caversham. In Kensington gangs of children broke windows, scared horses and generally made a nuisance of themselves. This Otago Witness cartoon of 1905 shows a supposed 'match-up' between rival bunches of larrikins somewhere on the city's streets. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Childrens BooksReading was a pleasure for all ages and both sexes. Sometimes a mania for books could get in the way of household tasks. Many daughters and wives came in for criticism for the time they spent reading. Some workplaces encouraged reading to 'improve yourself'. Hillside Workshops and the Wax Vesta Match Company both maintained libraries for employees. So did churches, and organisations such as lodges and friendly societies. Children's annuals became part of childhood. Pictured here are 'The Girls Own Illustrated Annual', an 1884 publication with colour and black and white reproductions and several hundred stories and poems suitable for 'young ladies', while below is 'The Red Book for Boys' a similar publication from the 1920s with pictures and stories featuring adventure, sport and military themes. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

ToysIn the 1920s the forty hour working week and higher income levels allowed more and more people to pursue their personal enthusiasms and interests. Hobbies and crafts flourished among both sexes and all ages as shown in this photograph from the 1930s. Men took up photography or model making. Boys collected cigarette cards, stamps and bottles. Girls delighted in dolls and dolls' clothes. These passions did not require much money and gave people lots of pleasure. (Timeframes Online Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa)

Browns tea roomsShopping emerged as a leisure activity in the early twentieth century. A trip to town, followed by afternoon tea with friends, was a real social outing for suburban women. Hollywood films stimulated local demand for the fashions and products displayed on screen. Department Stores catered to this rising consumerism, providing enticing window displays, as well as restrooms and other facilities to make shopping a pleasure. No trip to town was complete without 'afternoon tea'. Brown's Tea Rooms in the Octagon was a popular venue for South Dunedin shoppers to revive themselves with a 'cuppa' before the tram trip back to 'the Flat'. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Listening to RadioRadio provided a new form of escapist entertainment as shown in this advertisement for the latest 'Columbia' radio. As new electrical appliances became available through the 1920s, the 'wireless' was often the first appliance purchased. The South Dunedin radio station 4XD was among the first in the world to regularly broadcast to listeners. Radio listening rapidly spread into homes across the Southern Suburbs. (Hocken Library - Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago)

CinemasDunedin's first film screening took place in 1896. Within a few years the 'flicks' had become a major popular form of entertainment. Admission prices were easily affordable. By the 1920s many southern Dunedin children were going to the movies at least once a week. Their parents were just as keen. Working class men and women found escape from their everyday lives into Hollywood glamour and excitement. This composite document shows two of the city's most popular cinemas: the Century which stood until the mid 1990s and the King Edward Picture Theatre which is presently the Mayfair Theatre and home to Opera Otago. Also included is the weekly screenings for the King Edward. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Citizens BallDances have always been popular in New Zealand as social occasions across the generations. But in the 1890s demand grew for dances specifically for young people. Lodges and churches began putting on dance evenings. By 1910 most organisations were holding at least an annual dance. Weekly dances sprang up in halls all over Dunedin. Young people travelled to these dances in groups but often walked home as couples. Romances blossomed and marriages were made. This photograph from the Otago Witness of 25 February 1930 shows revelers at the first citizens ball to be held in the new Dunedin Town Hall. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)


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