Cadbury Tray

Relic of an early woman entrepreneur

The early 1900s were, perhaps, not noted for women entrepreneurs but one astute business woman bucked the trend, launching a series of successful businesses. Silvina Lanyon launched her business empire with the simple offer of rooms and dining from her Goldfields home, which she shared with her husband James in 1905 and 1906. Later, with her husband fighting in WWI, Silvina operated a confectionary and fruit stall in the Goldfields. James returned from the war suffering ‘shell shock’ and died in 1919, prompting a grieving Silvina to move to Midland where she opened another stall. Several years after her husband’s death, Silvina’s home burnt down. Rather than despair, she used the insurance payout to invest in a mobile projector and van and would travel to country towns around the Peel region showing movies. It wasn’t long until she opened a moving pictures show at a hall in Pinjarra in 1923 and, within a year, she also opened ‘Open Air Pictures’ in Mandurah. In 1928 she built her first picture theatre, alongside her open air picture gardens. The Hotham Valley Theatre in Mandurah was a great success, and Silvina would roam the aisles before shows, selling sweets and drinks from this wooden tray. The curved side would fit around her waist, a strap would sit around her neck and the tray would hold a variety of delights for theatre-goers. Silvina continued to expand her empire, building the Capital Theatre in 1934 and Gem Pictures too. She was also a committed fundraiser for the RSL and Red Cross. She died in 1960 aged 77.

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Mandurah Museum

A march through history

Wandering through the carefully curated rooms of Mandurah Museum is like meandering back in time. You’ll start your journey in the time when Aboriginal people were the only inhabitants of the region...


3 Pinjarra Rd
Mandurah WA 6210

Open Hours

Tues to Fri 10am - 3pm; closed Sat to Mon.

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