While it’s always sad to see former bingo halls standing unoccupied and unwanted, sometimes they get to see a happy ending. That’s exactly what’s hopefully happening in Wales as one couple are currently planning to turn their local club into a new community theatre.
Hayley Taylor and Daniel Robertson have decided to pool their life savings and give The Savoy in Tonyrefail a new lease of life. After falling in love with the picturesque village which is situated in Porth, South Glamorgan, and the building itself, they shelled out £150,000 to turn the former theatre and bingo hall into an exciting new community theatre. The couple previously ran a theatre (The Empire) in Southend, Essex and decided they’d love to get involved with the thespian world again in their new local area.
After looking at several potential venues across Wales, Suffolk, and Pembrokeshire, they came up with the brainwave of searching for ‘old bingo halls’ on the Internet. They quickly came across the Grade-II listed Savoy in Tonyrefail and subsequently made the decision to move to the area in October 2012.
The picturesque building began its life in 1914 as a 500-seater cinema, but was turned into a bingo hall in the 1980s. The club closed its doors around ten years ago and has remained unoccupied ever since. When the couple first clapped eyes on it, they instantly fell in love with its charms and, on returning for a second viewing, they met some of the locals who they described as “really nice.”
Having made up their minds that this was the building they’d been looking for, they successfully purchased the club and are now busy fitting out the interior and completing refurbishments, with the hope of opening the new theatre’s doors by the end of July 2013. Once open, the venue will stage events such as concerts, plays, musicals, and comedy shows and will concentrate on showcasing local talent, but will also stage professional events.
The local council has given their permission for the refurbishment as well as a flat on the premises. Luckily, Hayley and Daniel both have fathers who are in the building trade, and they also own an array of sound equipment, rigging, and lighting from their previous theatre.
We’re sure that the locals will be excited about the prospect of a new venue for the community to enjoy.
If there’s a former bingo hall in your village, town or city, what use would you like to see it put to?