Herman Phillips planned the layout of the park, Rupert Browne a scenic artist from Luna Park St Kilda gave the layout artistic imagination and Ted Hopkins made everything work – physically, mechanically and electrically. The whole Sydney site was constructed in just over 3 months and involved the employment of 800 structural workers, 70 electricians and 35 artists as well and many others.
When the doors opened at 8.00pm on 4 October, 1935 it cost 6d to enter (3d for children) and 6d for most rides. The Big Dipper and Coney Island cost 9d. The Park was an instant success. After the first year, the admission charge was removed and Luna Park proudly advertised “Admission Free”.
During the war years the lights of Luna Park were” browned out” and the Park became a magnet for servicemen. The Park was closed every winter and this gave an opportunity to move, overhaul and paint the rides and add new attractions. This continued until 1972. The amusement Park ran smoothly under the control of showmen from 1935 to 1970 when Ted Hopkins retired.
Luna Park 1935
In 1969 the lease on the park was sold to World Trade Centre Pty Ltd headed by Leon Fink. An application was made to develop the site as a trade centre consisting of multi-storey buildings designed by eminent architect, Harry Seidler. The state government refused the application and the park continued. During the 1970’s the park was altered from its original state, some older rides were demolished, and new portable rides introduced but they lacked the artistic facades that had been characteristic of the Park. The lease ran out in 1976 and operation continued on a weekly basis. The Park stopped closing for its regular winter maintenance schedules and in 1979 a tragic fire in the ghost train ride finally caused Luna Park to close down completely.
Artists were involved in Luna Park from the earliest days. Rupert Browne was brought up from Luna Park Melbourne, designed the first entry face and did all the original artwork during the parks 1935 construction phase. After the park opened Arthur Barton became the resident artist until 1970. He designed murals, panels and cut outs as well as the fifth entry face. In the seventies Martin Sharp and Peter Kingston along with Richard Liney, and many others were commissioned to revitalise the Park.
A tragedy struck the park in 1979 when fire broke out on the ghost train, killing several people. Since then the park has closed and re-opened several times, partly because of complaints by the mostly wealthy local residents to the noise generated by the park. Luna Park reopened in 2004 after several years’ closure following an abortive attempt at reviving the park after a much longer period of closure.
Equipment: Nikon D300, Sigma 10-20mm lens handheld
Technique: HDR 5 Bracketted Exposures, Photomatix 3.2, Capture NX