Night the roof fell in at bingo hall

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IT was nice weather for One Little Duck but not so good for Burlington Bertie or Two Fat Ladies.

Bingo players escaped injury when a ceiling collapsed during thunderstorms and a torrential downpour.

The sudden soaking – on Friday, August 13, 1999 – also brought chaos to many pubs and clubs in and around Hartlepool’s busy Church Street area.

At the Mecca bingo centre, at the town’s Marina, the heavy rain caused a suspended ceiling to collapse.

Stranton station officer Dave Hansford told Mail reporter Ian Monaghan: “They had come to the end of the session and everyone had evacuated the building when we got there.

“The water had caused the suspended ceiling to collapse but luckily there were no injuries.

“It looked as though it had caused a lot of damage.”

Taking to heart the words of the Prince song to “party like it’s 1999”, drinkers in The Royal pub, in Church Street, didn’t let the flooding affect their enjoyment – as they carried on boozing while fire fighters tackled their flooded cellar.

Dillinger’s restaurant next door suffered a similar fate, while the moisture stopped the sounds at The Studio music venue, in Tower Street.

Station officer Hansford explained: “The water had set off an alarm which automatically cuts off the electricity, which left the band just standing there.”

He added: “Nobody in The Royal let the rain spoil their enjoyment and we made sure that the cellar was made safe.”

It was a busy night for town firefighters, kept busy pumping away the waters from 9.30pm until well after midnight.

But just a few miles away there were no reports of flooding damage in east Durham.

Do you have any memories of the downpour you would like to share with other Mail readers?

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.


THE first total solar eclipse visible from mainland Britain since 1927 – and the last until 2090 – represented “a few precious moments of freedom” for two Shotton Colliery youngsters.

Brothers Kyle and Ryan Richards suffered from a rare allergy to sunlight which meant they were normally forced to remain indoors during daylight unless wearing special protective suits designed by NASA scientists.

Mum Carmen, 29, told the Mail: “It was great to see their faces out in daylight without having to look through a mask.”

Older brother Kyle, six, said: “I wish there was an eclipse every day.”

• THE town’s Warner Village cinema, now known as Vue, had a choice of seven films, including The Matrix, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Notting Hill. Among the attractions for those staying in were Dale Winton presenting The Other Half, where contestants had to guess which partners belonged together and Mother Knows Best, hosted by Ulrika Jonsson, where four mums got to lay down the law in areas of their children’s lives ranging from wedding arrangements to home decorating.

• THE Mail was already concerned about what the paper described as “The Great Millennium Rip-Off”, with reports of a night of cabaret costing £100 and pubs planning to charge for entry.

Though it was only August, the backlash was well underway in Hartlepool, with Harry Laverick, of the town’s Catholic Club, saying “as far as we are concerned the bands can stay at home” after being asked for £4,000 by one act to play on the big night.

Meanwhile, the King Johns Tavern in the town announced it would be shutting early on New Year’s Eve, at 8.30pm. A company spokesman told the Mail: “It’s a decision we made to let the staff enjoy the event.”

• PETROL prices were set to rise by 4p a litre in the space of a week due to the fluctuating price of crude oil, from 71p a litre to 75p.

Other consumer staples have seen varying increases in the past 15 years, with the town’s Belle Vue Way Tesco advertising 4x500ml Skol lager for £2.29, McVitie’s Digestives for 55p and a loaf of Hovis sliced white for 49p.