Bingo, a game that first gained popularity in the 1960s, is played by over three million people in Britain. Not only has it provided a sense of community and entertainment to players, it’s also been responsible for saving buildings that would otherwise have gone to ruin.
Why not plan a UK break to one of the towns that are home to these historic buildings, take in the gorgeous architecture and treat yourself to a game?
Top Rank Club, Birmingham
The Top Rank Club in Birmingham, which now calls itself Mecca Bingo, was built in 1935 as an Odeon cinema. It is a sleek, art deco style building, the signature style of its architect Harry Weedon. Weedon designed all of the cinemas for the Odeon group during the 1930s, helping to make a visit to the flicks a truly memorable experience.
Unfortunately, the cinema closed in 1961, but since then the Grade II listed building has been used as a Bingo Hall, which has saved it from falling into disrepair, and means that the residents of Birmingham can still enjoy the building in all of its glory.
The Brighton Hippodrome is located on Middle Street in the ancient centre of Brighton. It is immediately recognizable by its three arched main entrance, complete with glazed awnings. The Hippodrome was originally constructed in 1897 as an ice rink, was converted into a circus in 1901 and finally redesigned as a theatre the following year.
The flamboyantly decorated interior is home to a large auditorium which has seen performances from acts like Harry Houdini, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Laurel and Hardy. It was forced to cease its life as a venue in 1964 due to financial difficulties, and reopened as a Mecca Bingo in 1967.
Mecca Bingo kept the building until 2006 when it had to close, but it has recently been sold to a family-run property company, so hopes are high that the building might be restored to its former position.
In the meantime, if you’re visiting Brighton you can see the building from the outside, but if you want to play a game of bingo then you’ll need to try one of the cities other bingo halls, or find a good online game at www.bingositesreviewer.com.
The Spanish City, Tyne and Wear
The Spanish City is an impressive looking white building, topped with a huge dome. It originally opened in 1908 as a theatre, and was then converted to a dance hall in the 1920s when it became one of the country’s major venues.
As has been the fate of so many of these gorgeous old buildings, it was forced to close, but was reopened as a bingo hall in the 1960s. It closed for a period from the 1990s, but in 2018 it reopened, meaning that residents can enjoy it once again.
Gala Bingo, Wandsworth
The former Granada cinema in Wandsworth is not only a Grade I listed building, it has also been described as ‘a world-class cinema, without doubt the most lavishly decorated interior of any cinema in Britain and among the most lavish in Europe’.
As with so many cinemas, it was forced to close in 1973, but the building gained a new lease on life three years later when it reopened as a bingo hall.
As you walk along the seafront at Margate, the Dreamland building is easy to spot – its name is written on the front of the building in huge letters.
The dreamland is a combination of a cinema and a bingo hall, with the bingo hall replacing the theatre that once called the building its home.