A NEW museum highlighting the history of a County Durham town has been opened in a working bingo hall.
The People’s Museum at Bingo Racecourse in Bishop Auckland was officially opened by the city’s MP Dehenna Davison yesterday.
Officials at club owner Majestic Bingo said that when they received a call from history enthusiast Michael O’Neill asking if he could meet to discuss the idea for a museum, they were a little skeptical and wondering if anyone had any plans to buy. their 111 year old building.
Unwilling to sell their premises and wishing to continue playing bingo for many years to come, they quickly formed a working relationship with Mr. O’Neill and the dream of the Peoples Museum began to come to life.
Mr O’Neill, president of the community group behind The Peoples Museum, said: “The project has been a real pleasure and to be fair it is the best location in town.
“The Hippodrome Bingo Club has a fantastic heritage and is the last original theater / cinema still standing in Bishop Auckland.
“It will be a great addition to the racetrack for visitors and members.
“I think we need to remind people that we had a really successful city that was even dubbed mini-London at one point, and it’s important to remember the people who built the city – the old miners, the railway workers and steel workers.
He added, “We are very fortunate that Majestic allows us to use the unused space in their building and they are committed to running the building as a bingo hall for many years to come.
“I would like to thank Majestic Bingo and its COO Eric Howell for being our partner in this endeavor.”
Majestic Bingo General Manager Mark Jepp added, “We are delighted to support this project as it fits perfectly with our company philosophy of serving the local Bishop Auckland community.
“I think this is a great initiative and will stay in place as a local attraction that compliments the racetrack for many years to come.”
The building opened as a theater in 1909, and soon after it became the Essoldo Cinema, which was open until 1962 when the building became the bingo hall.
The museum is open all week when the club is open. Entrance is free but visitors must be over the age of 19 as locals are allowed.