Sadly there comes a time when everything, no matter how big or small, successful or unsuccessful, must come to an often sad end. This is now the case for the well loved Mecca bingo hall on High Street, in Hornchurch – the venue dished out one final jack pot on a recent Sunday evening that saw over 700 people attend in a wave of mutual joy, and a few tears, as all in attendance reminisced about the halls long standing history and the hours upon hours of enjoyment the locals had been lucky enough to experience there.
Queues were allegedly forming from 2:30 PM in the afternoon for the final game. Doors were scheduled to open from 4:30 PM, so it’s clear that the hall meant a great deal to those in the local community as they gathered in line and traded stories, smiles, laughter and all together warm memories extending in some cases back to their childhood where their parents used to attend the local games. Being open since 1930, the Hornchurch hall was one of the oldest still active on the bingo circuit and has hosted a series of unforgettable games since its creation.
Lidl will be taking over the hall and turning it into another one of their massively successful supermarkets, however, they have been asked to provide planning permission before this can happen – this might not come easily due to the fact that Historic England have requested that the building receive listed status. Should this request be granted, this would mean that Lidl would be unable to proceed with their plans to knock down the existing site to pave way for their advancements.
Unfortunately, this is not the only case where such a highly revered and loved bingo hall is threatened by pre-emptive destruction in the wake of an advancing commercial world – they are highly sought after prizes by supermarket giants like Lidl due to the amount of square foot they cover being absolutely ideal for large sized retail outlets in areas where it would otherwise be extremely difficult to place one. Considering the rise in online bingo and the loss of profit for the majority of brick and mortar halls in the country, it has become all too tempting for businesses like mecca to take the easy way out and cash in on their property rather than leave it standing for what could potentially be a slow and painful death, leading to further building decay as time went on and even bigger losses.
It’s difficult to tell at this stage what the outcome of Historic England’s application will be, but considering the love the local community have for the building, many, including ourselves, will be hoping that an alternative existence is possible for the site that allows it to remain an important staple for people to visit on a weekly basis – even if it’s not to enjoy bingo anymore, perhaps some other form of entertainment lies in wait for this frankly stunning venue.