London – Mecca Bingo Kilburn – Kilburn High Road

This Club Is Closed Or Demolished
  • Photograph by: Martin Tapsell (1997) - Exterior of the now closed London, Kilburn Mecca Bingo - Kilburn High Road

Date of closure: 19th August 2007

Address (for reference only):

Mecca Bingo
Kilburn High Road

Mecca Bingo’s Kilburn Club called time in 2007, a bad time for Mecca, and other bingo club operators, both the independents and the big players. Luckily, there is such architectural significance in the structure, including a 130 feet tower, that the building itself should remain in good hands for many years to come. The building started out life as a cinema in 1937, and it was absolutely huge. With a capacity of over four thousand, the Gaumont State Theatre was the largest cinema ever built in England and the third largest in the United Kingdom. It was opened with a live radio broadcast that ran for 5 days, and after this it started showing feature films.

It was one of the best equipped theatres in the country with twenty dressing rooms, which must have been a real luxury for its visiting performers. Whereas many theatres had an adjoining cafe, the Gaumont had its own 400 seater restaurant. The building’s exterior is in part homage to the Empire State Building which was at the time the biggest building in the world, and also all things American were in vogue, particularly as most of the movies shown would have been made in America.

With the onset of World War Two came the first of changes to affect the theatre, including brief closure, and part-time opening during the early war years. The cinema remained popular for several years, and was frequented by royalty who came to see ballets being performed. In 1957 the space underneath the cinema was converted into a dance studio, and was on of many changes that would be made to the interior structure over the following years.

Top Rank, who later became Mecca Bingo operated in part of the building until its closure. The building has since been bought by a church, which is a pattern that is emerging throughout the UK as many bingo operations fall by the wayside. It has now been reopened as a functioning church, and although bingo has gone, at least the building remains as a reminder of good times past.

By Gareth Whieldon (July 2010)

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