Playing Bingo

Bingo History

Opening a Bingo book

It could be you have details about local bingo history which you'd like to write about and share, or it could be you know the history of specific bingo terms or technology. It may not be factual information you can share, but tales of folklore, from legendary players to monumental lucky streaks.

Either way, we want to share that information and save it for future generations of bingo players on this site. If you have something you'd like to send us which will fit in this section then Contact Us now! The newest stories are listed first.

Bingo History Section

The following articles about bingo history are written exclusively for Playing Bingo. There's some amazing information that you won't find anywhere on the net, or anywhere else for that matter. Have a look at what we've got in the descriptions below, just click through to one of our exclusive articles.

A History Of Bingo In The UK By Dr. Carolyn Downs

  • Part 1 - 1716-1900: Beginnings - From her historian's doctorate, Dr. Downs examines the birth of bingo, starting with the 16th Century. More than just bingo, the roots of the whole aspect of lottery based gaming are looked at in this well researched article. Visit
  • Part 2 - 1900-1945: Housey-Housey, Tombola and Lotto - In Part two, Dr. Downs looks at the birth of the 'modern' game of bingo, and its development. Starting with an account from the period of the 'Great War', she then charts its proliferation throughout certain sectors of society. Visit
  • Part 3 - 1945-1961: The Birth of Commercial Bingo - In part three Dr. Downs looks at the growth of bingo, and gambling in general amongst the general population. She also pays particular attention to legislative responses to the regulation of gaming. Visit
  • Part 4 - 1961-1968: The Golden Age Of Bingo - In the final section Dr. Downs charts political involvement during the sixties, with reference to the different stances on gaming taken by the main two political parties of the era. Visit

Bingo Number Names History And Meanings By Dr. Carolyn Downs

  • Part 1 - Introduction - Dr. Downs looks at the history of bingo and how the meanings of numbers tie in with class and other cultural aspects. She also traces history to show bingo's links with the military. Visit.
  • Part 2 - The Calls Part 1 - We've all heard 'Kelly's eye' being called, but where does it come from? And which catchphrase did bingo pinch from John Inman's 'Mr. Humphries' for one of its calls? Read the full list of roots of meanings for bingo numbers 1 - 45. Visit.
  • Part 3 - The Calls Part 2 - Dr. Downs lists meanings for the second half of bingo calls here, and also sums up her investigation into the relationship between bingo, class and the services. Read the roots of meanings for bingo numbers 46 - 90. Visit.

Bingo Histories

  • An Illustrated UK Bingo History By Ian Grundy - There are some great photographs on this page that take us through a pictorial history of the game from 1950. Packed with great shots, and loads of info, this is a page not to be missed. Visit
  • The Southport Garrick (Mecca Bingo) - Ian Grundy returns here to focus on the life of the Southport Garrick, looking through the lens at a building of cultural and historical significance. A great article about a great club. Visit
  • The Shrewsbury Granada (Gala Bingo) - With some beautifully detailed shots of the interior, Ian Grundy takes us through the history of the Shrewsbury Granada, right from its beginnings as a cinema, to its eventual takeover by Gala Bingo. Visit
  • The York Clifton (Independently Owned) - It's great to read about the fortunes of a family run bingo hall, as they are so rare. The York Clifton is one of the larger independents, and Bill Grundy's photography, crisp as it is, shows us a well cared for club. Visit
  • The Kingston Gala (Gala Bingo) - A church converted to a bingo hall? Not as rare as you'd think, although in the interim, the building had been used as a cinema. All vestiges of worship are long gone, and what we see is a converted building with all its finery intact. Visit
  • Kenny Smith - My Time At The Southport Garrick - Here we get the history and a description of a magnificent building from one of its former employees. It's obvious from this article that Kenny Smith enjoyed his time there. A fond memory of a building that will hopefully be with us for a long time. Visit
  • The Tooting Gala By Charles S. P. Jenkins - A highly detailed account of one of London's most sumptuous old theatres, the Tooting Granada, which continues today as the Tooting Gala. A very interesting piece, written with a great personal touch. Visit
  • The Eastbourne Luxor Seven Gala By Charles S. P. Jenkins - An excellent pictorial piece describing visits to, and history of one of Eastbourne's finest buildings, and one time home to Luxor Seven Bingo. Visit
  • The Bingo Craze Started by Helen Fox - A personal piece covering the history of Standard Bingo in Hackney by the wife of the original manager. This was the first cinema to bingo conversion in London. Visit
  • The Woolwich Gala By Charles S. P. Jenkins - Another personal piece covering the history of Woolwich Gala/Granada. Charles talks in depth about his two visits to the old cinema, describing his exploration of the venue in great detail. Visit
  • The Bingo Special - This was a train that left London for Brighton in 1962. We have a rare photograph of passengers aboard the train, and would like to complete the history of this unique event with the help or our site visitors. Visit

Press Cuttings

  • Bingo Press Cuttings - This section consists of three themed pages created from the personal newspaper cuttings collections of bingo and cinema enthusiasts from around the country. The themes are 'celebrity visits', 'local news', and 'bingo press adverts. Enjoy a bit of nostalgia by visiting this section. Visit

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