A History Of Bingo Halls In London
Bingo is a game that has popularly been enjoyed in public throughout the city of London for more than 50 years. Playing bingo has long been a good way to socialise, relax and have fun, although the face of many bingo halls has changed over the decades, the original purpose of the game remains the same. What follows is an overview of some of the most famous bingo halls in London.
Image courtesy of garryknight, Flickr
Tooting Gala Bingo Hall
This beautiful bingo hall was built in the 1930s and originally started life as a cinema when it was opened to the public in 1931. The cinema closed in 1973 and was reopened as a bingo hall, which it remains to this day. The building is said to have the most beautiful interior of any bingo hall in London and was designed in the Art Deco style by Cecil Massey.
The Hackney Empire
This beautiful building was constructed in 1901 and was originally designed as a music hall, hosting entertainment giants such as Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and WC Fields. The Hackney Empire was also used to host television shows such as Take Your Pick in the 1950s before hosting alternative comedy acts like Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Ben Elton in the 1980s. The Hackney Empire received a £17 million refurbishment in 2001 serves as a bingo hall as well as moonlighting as a theatre on occasion.
Kilburn Mecca Bingo Hall
This mighty bingo hall can be found on Kilburn High Road in North West London and was once the biggest bingo venue in the whole of London. The interior of the Kilburn Mecca Bingo Hall was decorated in the striking Italian Renaissance style and originally featured a gold and green dome over the auditorium. In the height of bingo fever in London this was a popular place to gather for a few pints or glasses of wine before playing bingo. The new Link Game attracted huge hordes of bingo lovers and the prizes that were offered here were extremely impressive. Bingo players could also take part in a range of other types of bingo games at the Kilburn Mecca Bingo Hall, such as the popular National Link-Up Bingo game. Mecca Bingo operated games in the Kilburn Mecca Bingo Hall until 2007, when the building was bought by a local church. Fortunately for bingo fans, the church continues to host regular bingo games here.
Granada Bingo Hall
This popular Brixton landmark can be found on the corner of Kennington Road and Black Prince Road and was opened to the public in 1932. Originally serving as a 2,000 seat cinema, the building was transformed into the Granada Bingo hall in 1961, when bingo games could be played there most nights of the week. The bingo hall has managed to resist the demand for demolishment from local developers and remains an important part of the Brixton community to this day.
Although many of London’s bingo halls have since been demolished or transformed into other types of venues, a good number remain standing. The game of bingo has become popular in London and other parts of the United Kingdom again in recent years. Perhaps as more and more people return to London’s traditional bingo halls others will be renovated and returned to their original purpose of hosting bingo games.
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