Date of closure: 2006
Address (for reference only):
The Carlton Bingo of Huntly Street opened in November 1938 as the Palace Cinema, and was run by Caledonian Associated Cinemas (CAC), who were a Scottish based firm. They ran many cinemas and ultimately bingo halls throughout Scotland.
The Palace went over to bingo in 1963, still being run by CAC. Its central location, on the south bank of the River Ness, in Inverness city centre, was both a benefit and a hindrance. The central location made it ideal for patrons, to do some shopping before a game, especially with a WM Low supermarket (now closed and occupied by Primark) on the opposite bank, and in later years, by Tesco nearby. But the central location meant parking was restricted, and more so, Huntly Street was a narrow one way street, and indeed still is.
By the 1990s, CAC had evolved, and now Carlton Clubs owned the CAC bingo. Carlton’s head office is still, to this day, in Inverness, on Huntly Street, in new modern office accommodation next door to the Palace.
In 2004, Carlton obtained planning permission to build a new bingo hall on the eastern side of Inverness, at The Inshes, near the retail park, behind the Raigmore Hospital. The plan was not to have two halls in the city, but instead, all staff management at the Palace would move to this new hall. And it all happened in 2006, when the Palace finally closed its doors, patrons moving to the new complex. Despite it being well away from the city centre, it’s about 10 minutes drive from there, is on several bus routes, and is near the A9 interchange. It’s also as busy as the old Palace.
As for the Palace, the for sale sign went up shortly after closure, and it remained derelict, with all fittings having been stripped out.
Highland Council, in 2010, gave planning consent for the demolition of the Palace, and the building of a new hotel on the site, and by March 2011, the Palace had gone. Instead of a Palace, numerous rooms that, hopefully for the guests, will be like palaces, will be built in their place!
But this is one lost halls story that has a happy ending, because although the Palace has gone, the bingo survives; it just moved to new premises – Carlton Bingo Old Perth Road Inverness. So residents of Inverness still can enjoy their dose of bingo!
By Robert Clark (May 2011)