Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Clifton Haynes

Interviewed by Zoe Dobson on 24 February 2004
Subject: ,

Clifton Haynes. I remember the Amphitheatre well as a child. I remember when it was built and I have a picture of that. It was built by the Theosophists and these people lived in Clifton Gardens in a big home called ‘The Manor’. The Amphitheatre was built like a Roman Coliseum for an Indian who was coming here by the name of Krishnamurti. The people in Mosman paid £100 a seat to sit on this concrete platform structure. Krishnamurti was supposed to walk through the Heads to the Amphitheatre. He met a lovely girl on the ship coming out and I think they went off and got married and he never arrived at the Amphitheatre.

It then became a picture house, a concert place and it also became a mini golf course. I remember going there to watch a Shakespearian play and one gentleman named Walter Kingsley who had a very impressive voice used to sing there. One day I was swimming in that tidal pool in front of the Amphitheatre and there was a huge octopus that had been left in the pool. I rushed up to Walter Kingsley and I told him to come down and have a look at the octopus. He came down all right and he brought one of the swords he was using in the production and pulled the octopus out with his sword.

I can remember the place becoming very dilapidated and the Sisters of the Holy Grail took it over. I think they were bought out and it is now a large block of flats.

Zoe Dobson. Did the Sisters take it over in the 1940s?

Clifton Haynes. Yes, I don’t know that they ever conducted anything from there but they took up residence there for a while because there was a residence under the stage of the Amphitheatre. Several times when I went to see plays you could see that the walls were become very damp and it didn’t look like the safest place to be in.

Zoe Dobson. Was there much interest in the Theosophists in Mosman?

Clifton Haynes. Yes, they sold a lot of these seats for 100 pounds because I can remember seeing on the seats many of these little brass plaques. But as soon as it was completed Krishnamurti who was to come here and perform many wonders just didn’t arrive.