It’s always sad to see former bingo halls fall into disuse, so we were pleased to recently read a story in a local London edition of the Guardian Online that a Leyton club is due to be given a new lease of life.
The ex-Gala Bingo premises closed its doors on 17th November 2012, and were snapped up within days by a Christian group, who hope to turn it into a church.
The historic building, known as the Savoy, is located in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, East London, and started life as a cinema and variety theatre in 1928. Featuring sumptuous interiors such as a marble and Roman stone vestibule, gold fabrics and blue carpets, the cinema is said to have been the first in the area to show a ‘talking’ picture, back in 1929.
In late November 2012, the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship took ownership of the building, and has applied to Waltham Forest Council for planning permission to change its use to a place of worship. The group already owns a secondary premise in the Walthamstow area, and according to its website, belongs to the ‘Christian Fellowship Churches’, which were founded in the early 1970s by an Arizona pastor.
The intended change in use, however, has not been unanimously welcomed by local residents. One such person is a local heritage campaigner called Katy Andrews, who fears that the attempt to change the site’s use could result in the same fate that befell an ex-EMD cinema in Walthamstow. That particular building was purchased by another Christian group back in 2002, but has remained derelict ever since due to the failure of the group to gain the necessary planning permission.
Ms. Andrews is concerned that the “beautiful and historic” Savoy may be left empty, and says that her fellow residents are “up in arms” about the “loss of yet another entertainment place” in their area. Gala Bingo stated that the sale of building was made for commercial reasons.
If you have an ex-bingo hall in your local area which has stood empty for some time, what would you like to see it used as? Perhaps you can see a use for it as a youth centre, supermarket, or cinema, or maybe something completely different and unique? Perhaps you’d like another bingo company to take it over so that you can resume playing in your own neighbourhood, rather than having to travel elsewhere?