Date of closure: Circa 1994
Address (for reference only):
Top Rank Bingo
The building was originally opened as the Gaiety Grand Cinema in 1912. At one point it was also a roller rink, although I don’t have a firm date on when this happened. It became a bingo hall in 1961, and the Top Rank Gaiety in 1968. The hall thrived following this, until the end of the 80s when it slowly lost members to a number of other bigger halls in Cardiff, including the new big purpose built Castle Bingo in Canton and the Gala Bingo in St Mary Street.
The building is famed for its twin domes on the entrance, and at some point in its early history as a cinema a balcony was added and the height of the building increased. As a bingo hall, the balcony area contained both seats and tables. The window from the old projectionist’s booth was still visible, and the projection room used as a storage cupboard. The main stage for calling was about 15 foot high, with both the bar and buffet housed beneath it.
After remaining closed for a few years, the building found a new lease of life as a student bar. It was remodelled to lose the balcony and have two distinct floors instead. Below is a photo of the building as the Spin Bar, by ‘left handed male’ of Flickr. (February 2008)
Other Lost Halls In The Area
Top Rank Gaiety Cardiff Photos (1991) by David Lloyd
I did a lot of black and white photography when I was younger, doing all the development side of it myself. During the Christmas of 1991 I had an art project which I based around my place of work, The Top Rank Gaiety in Cardiff. At the time I never bothered developing the photos as the negatives were underexposed. They were thrown into a box and not kept in very great condition.
The whole reel of film should have been shot on a tripod and exposed a lot better. But now, thanks to the joys of technology I’m able to rescue the negatives to make this gallery of shots from the club. The quality of them is pretty poor; I’ve had to play about with them in Adobe Photoshop™ to improve them, and the negatives were very dusty and blurred to start with. That said, they offer a glimpse in the period the club was open, a few years before it shut down.