Heddon Greta Drive-In celebrates 50 years of fun since opening in 1967

MOVIE READY: Drive-In fans Josh Tipper, Roger Tipper, Stella Tipper, Deb Montague, Jack Montague, Paul Tipper settling in for the 50th birthday screening.
MOVIE READY: Drive-In fans Josh Tipper, Roger Tipper, Stella Tipper, Deb Montague, Jack Montague, Paul Tipper settling in for the 50th birthday screening.

WHILE the Heddon Greta Drive-In enjoys great atmosphere at every screening, there was something special about the gathering on Wednesday evening.

The local entertainer celebrated their 50th birthday with a viewing of To Sir, With Love – the first film shown on the grounds five decades earlier on opening night.

Scorching temperatures through the day made way for a cool change, with rain falling as cars arrived.

But, in true Heddon Greta Drive-In style, the weather was no deterrent; the show must go on.

The night was a trip down memory lane – in more ways than one.

Not just a celebration of the site’s past, the event attracted drivers of classic and vintage cars, adding to the nostalgia.

Movie-goers weren’t the only ones to benefit.

All proceeds taken at the gate were set aside for the Richmond Vale Railway Museum, after a bush fire devastated the site in September.

Drive-In owner Scott Seddon was anticipating a great night.

“We have a bit of a sense of community that we don’t see in normal cinemas,” he said of the drive-in.

“It’s just so terrible what happened out there to those guys – years, and years, and years of work burned up.”

Normally, the drive-in closes in December before Christmas, but the milestone was a good enough reason to break tradition for one year.

“I’ve been thinking about it for probably eight or nine years,” Mr Seddon said.

“We forgot about 40, so we thought we’d do something big for 50.

“And, it was always going to be this film.”

Museum chairman Peter Meddows said the event was “just fantastic”, adding to a wave of community support for the group.

“For this to crop up is just unbelievable; it’s great,” he said.

Mr Meddows said he had seen To Sir, With Love before – when it was released, no less.

“I was around then,” he said with a laugh.

Jokes aside, Mr Meddows and the team are seriously grateful.

“On behalf of the members of the board of Richmond Vale, thank you to everybody for the sheer amount of support we’ve had since the fires – it’s unbelievable,” he said.

“It makes you feel that, from our point [of view], we’re actually doing something worthwhile and that if the community’s behind us, then it’s really worth doing.”

Mr Meddows said the support was added incentive for the team to get the museum up and running, as soon as possible.

“And, when we do, everybody will know,” he said.

“There’ll be a big launch.”

The drive-in will reopen on Boxing Day.

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 A photo from the 1967 opening night, appearing in the Cessnock Advertiser. The caption read: Mr. Ray Smith, at left, with general manager of National Theatre Supplies, with the manager of the new Heddon Greta Skyline Drive-In Theatre, Mr. Sam Robinson, Mr. Laurie Murphy, of Cessnock, the assistant to the exectutive director of the Greater Union Theatres organisation, Mr. H. G. Hayward, and Albert Bromage, of Cessnock, with a vintage car at the drive-in opening this week.

A photo from the 1967 opening night, appearing in the Cessnock Advertiser. The caption read: Mr. Ray Smith, at left, with general manager of National Theatre Supplies, with the manager of the new Heddon Greta Skyline Drive-In Theatre, Mr. Sam Robinson, Mr. Laurie Murphy, of Cessnock, the assistant to the exectutive director of the Greater Union Theatres organisation, Mr. H. G. Hayward, and Albert Bromage, of Cessnock, with a vintage car at the drive-in opening this week.

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