Many venues were used for live performance in Bathurst prior to the development of the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre including the Bathurst Hall (1868), the Masonic Hall (1889) and Bathurst School of Arts Hall.
In 1967 the Bathurst City Hall was opened, "a hall which delighted both cast and crew with its modern facilities, spacious dressing rooms and elaborate sound and lighting facilities". This flat floored space with a mezzanine catered not only for live performances but also balls, weddings and public meetings.
The stage, dressing rooms and main auditorium roof of the Bathurst City Hall were retained when the new Entertainment Centre was completed in 1999.
The Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre was officially opened on Saturday 6th March 1999. This opening was the culmination of years of work by dedicated people such as Bob Fry. Bob called the initial public meeting in August 1986 which led to the formation of the Bathurst Arts Council. Their aims were to promote all forms of art in the City, and specifically to work towards building a theatre. A tree was planted in Bob's memory in Machattie Park overlooking the theatre loading dock.
The Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre has been named to recognise those soldiers from Bathurst who served defending the nation. An honour role is situated in the lower foyer and the Broken Blade Memorial takes pride of place at the front of the building. Unveiled on Saturday 15th August 1970, the Broken Blade Memorial commemorates soldiers of the Eighth Division of the AIF, most of whom trained at the former Army camp on Limekilns Road.
The column is shaped in the form of a blade. At the broken tip the figure "8" with a sword cross is incised, recalling the grim days of Japan's initial drive to the south on mainland Asia - a drive which eventually halted on the very doorstep of Australia.
The memorial pays tribute to the many soldiers of the Eighth Division who sacrificed their lives in the Malaya campaign and to the many survivors of the Division who still suffer the effects of the war and the ordeal of Prisoner of War camps.
Image: Courtesy the National Library of Australia, Copyright the Photographer - Brendan Bell.