Preserving Bingo’s Rich History and Heritage

In the UK even the remotest hamlet usually had its own High Street bingo hall. During the postwar years bingo became a national institution in the UK with millions of enthusiastic players flocking to bingo halls nightly. Industry giants like Mecca and Gala became household names and highly recognized bingo brands. Although bingo was closely associated with the Catholic Church the first commercial bingo games in the UK took place in the holiday camps that were so popular in the 50’s. Commercial bingo quickly took off and soon the country was dotted with ornate and huge bingo halls which hosted well attended games. In larger towns and cities bingo palaces were instantly recognizable by their bright lights and ornate décor. Over the years bingo created a rich heritage and the rapid disappearance of bingo halls bas bingo historians concerned.

After the smoking ban was passed in 2006 many bingo halls suddenly saw attendance greatly diminished. In the years that followed many of the older bingo halls were either demolished or converted for other uses. Once a bingo hall closes the culture and fabric of the hall disappears forever but there are historians working to preserve the rich culture and heritage of bingo in the UK and Ireland. One internet bingo website devoted to bingo history in the UK is actively seeking photographs and information about the closed bingo halls. So far PlayingBingo.uk has been able to acquire over 200 photos of old bingo palaces and information on over 135 closed bingo halls.

Most older UK residents remember the bright lights, garish décor and lively atmosphere of the old style bingo halls. Bingo callers were local celebrities and developed a new language or ‘bingo lingo.’ Bingo historian and the owner of PlayingBingo David Lloyd fears that the memory of these bingo halls will be lost forever and is asking anyone with photos or information on old bingo halls to contact him.  Lloyd stated, “We think it’s important these clubs are remembered. As well as the lovely buildings and interesting architecture, they also provided a great meeting place and haven for thousands of their members. The old style of bingo hall, converted from a cinema or theatre is fast disappearing, being superseded by modern purpose built halls that often lack the character and charm of the smaller converted halls. If you have played bingo at a club that closed and have information and photographs about that hall, we’d love to hear from you and add it to the site for all to share.”

This is a great opportunity for players who remember the days of the old bingo halls to contribute to the rich and colorful history of bingo.

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