New hall in Southport is mecca for bingo fans

April 20, 2015
New hall in Southport is mecca for bingo fans

There is no shortage of great bingo halls dotted all over our Sceptred Isle, but few are as steeped in history, not to mention swinging, art deco style, as the newly opened Garrick Theatre on Lord Street, Southport. This lush, architectural marvel was recently appropriated by Mecca Bingo and re-purposed into one of the UK's most glamorous bingo destinations. Before welcoming bingo players into its lushly appointed confines, these hallowed halls played host to legendary figures of stage and screen, such as Bette Middler, Julie Andrews, and the incomparable comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. While you're not likely to see Ollie and the Babe treading the boards these days, the Garrick Theatre still has the power to attract a full house, just of a very different kind. First opened back in 1923, the Garrick Theatre is capable of seating 1,600 patrons and occupies a prime piece of real estate on the corner of Lord Street and Kingsway. The marvellous art deco building was the brainchild of architect George E Tonge and has changed little since it was first built in the roaring 20s. The interior is, in a word, regal: showcasing some magical 1930s design work, including golden columns, and elegant Wedgewood-style plasterwork. What's more, bingo players can get a taste of aristocracy by enjoying a game or two nestled inside one of eight of the original royal boxes that ring the gigantic auditorium. Speaking about the venue, Mecca Bingo said buying the Garrick Theatre was part of their ongoing efforts to attract new members and extend their customer database. The acquisition sparked an advertising campaign on the local buses, which Mecca claim was a rousing success. In the first three weeks alone, the number of visits from first-time bingo players shot up by a whopping 25%. Interestingly, before Mecca stepped in and saved the Garrick, bingo fans in the area were already extolling the venue's virtues, claiming it "would be ideal for adaptation to a modern bingo club". Someone out there, it seems, was listening, as Southport's bingo community can now enjoy their favourite pastime in a truly one-of-a-kind venue.

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