Hartlepool bingo hall closes after half a century
A landmark bingo hall is expected to go up for sale within weeks after seemingly marking players' cards for the final time.
The distinctive Carlton Bingo building, in York Road, Hartlepool, has closed after 50 years with the loss of 12 full and part-time jobs.
A number of staff are still employed at the premises as the business winds down its operations.
Inverness-based Carlton, which runs 12 other bingo halls throughout the United Kingdom, blamed a range of factors such as the 2007 smoking ban and online competition on a fall in the number of players visiting the club.
Mike Watret, the company's operations director, said: "It is unfortunate but it is as a consequence of the decline in retail bingo over the last 10 years.
"Ever since the smoking ban was introduced down in England we have seen a decline in the retail market with 50 per cent of bingo premises closing.
"Then there are online pressures with people happier to stay at home and play rather than make the effort to go out for the night."
The cream-coloured premises were previously home to the Essoldo Cinema before becoming a bingo hall in 1968.
Mr Watret said: "We are hoping to market the building for sale within the next couple of weeks.
"We appreciate it will be challenging because of the pressures on High Street town centre retail at the minute."
Hartlepool's only major bingo club is now Mecca Bingo, on the Marina, while Carlton's nearest branch to town is in Whitley Bay.
Mr Watret added: "We are still in touch with staff and know that a number of them have already found work either in similar positions or in retail."