Say it isn’t so…
The Mecca Bingo club on Hackney Road, Hoxton, is being shut down after over half a century of operations. Members of the club are crushed at the news, describing it as the loss of “a family” and a huge blow to the local community.
The former art deco cinema dates all the way back to the 1930s, but has been “struggling for some time” according to club managers. This may be due to the rise of online bingo making land-based clubs like Mecca obsolete.
Joyce Allen, 88 is one of the longest-serving members of the club. She has frequented the building for 71 years and even remembers it from its days as a cinema. Mrs Allen claims that many of her strongest friendships and best experiences were had at Mecca Bingo, such as meeting her best friends of 20 years, Julia and Sheila. The trio have since supported each other through bereavements and bouts of breast cancer, all the while playing games of bingo. Joyce claims the closure of this club has “taken the heart out of Hackney Road.”
Club member Arunima Misra, a wheelchair user in her twenties, has said “The closing of Mecca Bingo is not just tearing down a building; it is devastating friendships and leaving irreparable collateral damage in its wake. Being a wheelchair user myself, my mobility is restricted, so having somewhere I can go and feel comfortable on my own is just as priceless as calling out a full house.”
Mecca Hackney is planned to close in just two weeks on June 16th. The public are so upset with the sudden closure that many complaints and petitions have been launched towards Mecca Bingo and even the local MP Meg Hillier.
Ironically, Ms Hillier had just recently called numbers at the club herself. She laments not being able to do more for “a friendly social meeting place for people, particularly older people.”
A spokesperson for Mecca Bingo said Hackney Road had been underperforming for quite a while, defending the decision to shut down the branch. However, in recognition of the Hoxton community’s love for the club, the Mecca company is now trying to organise transport for customers to neighboring clubs, and will even be organising a welcome party for them at the Mecca in nearby Camden.