Streatham, South London, UK 020 358 249 12

Beacon Bingo announcement: January 2017

Beacon Bingo has announced today an opportunity to work with businesses to replace Beacon Bingo at Streatham Hill Theatre. Beacon Bingo Streatham Hill, part of the Praesepe group of companies, has offered Bingo to its customers for over 50 years and was formerly known as Streatham Hill Theatre which opened in the 1920s. At one time in the 1960’s the venue was the largest Bingo Club in London. Prior to the club offering Bingo it operated for forty years as one of the largest theatres outside the West End and still has many of the original features from its Theatre days.

Recently a ‘Open House’ night was held at the Club, VIP guests were given guided tours of the building and after the Bingo session a short play was performed for an audience of 200 people (written by Craig White, General Manager) which served to demonstrate the fantastic acoustics in the main

Nick Harding, CEO of Praesepe said: “The outstanding contribution of all staff and management at this club for over 50 years has enabled us to provide a great service to the local community. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, the Bingo club has recently started to make a trading loss and
we have to move on with other plans for the building”.

Nick continued: “ We have now decided to scale back our traditional Bingo offer in the Club but will continue to provide a form of electronic bingo in a smaller area behind the main foyer. Having surveyed other potential uses for the Theatre we are planning now to seek a commercial partner who would be interested in reopening the beautiful Cocktail bar at first floor, we will also reopen three floors of offices at the rear of the building and of course we would very much like to work with a theatre group who might be interested in reviving what is an historic theatre. I am personally determined to breathe life back into this magnificent building alongside all the other exciting building and residential projects currently taking place in Streatham and will be prepared to be as helpful as I possibly can to any organisation that wishes to talk to us”.

Press release

Theatre is “At Risk”: January 2017

In 2017 the theatre was added to the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register due to the possibility of redevelopment of the building or sale of part/s of the building, meaning that “the auditorium itself may be left in an unsustainable position, and without the income it would need from the rest of the building”.

The theatre has remained on the Theatres at Risk each year since.

Grade II listing granted: 22nd September 1994

The theatre was granted a Grade 2 listing in 1994 as “an unusually lavish example of a theatre built in the short-lived revival of building in 1929-30; as a suburban example of this date the building may be unique”.

Much of the original theatre, its interior features, and its equipment remain, with only relatively minor changes having been made to accommodate bingo.

Britain’s biggest bingo hall opens: 14th November 1962

Mecca had acquired the building in 1962 and on Wednesday 14th November 1962, the Streatham Hill Theatre opened its doors again as the biggest bingo casino in the country. Despite heavy rain around 2000 came to attend the first session.

The Final Curtain for theatre: 9th June 1962

When the curtain fell for the Saturday evening performance of ‘The Rehearsal‘ it would turn out to be the final curtain. The theatre remained dark through the summer of 1962.

Repaired theatre reopens: 23rd December 1950

Repairs after the bomb damage from 1944 were delayed as homes took priority for rebuilding. The theatre was rebuilt with a few changes from the original plans.

The Streatham Hill Theatre eventually reopened on Boxing Day 1950 with the pantomime “Cinderella”, a re-staging of the 1942-43 production. 

1942-43 Cinderella

Serious Bomb Damage: 3rd July 1944

At 6.30am on the morning of Monday 3rd July 1944 a flying bomb destroyed the side wall of the theatre.

Sleeping inside the theatre was an air-raid warden and his family on fire-watch duty. The bomb blew a gaping hole 60ft in diameter, damaging much of the interior and both sides of the proscenium arch.  The only fatality was the warden’s mother-in-law.  The extent of the damage was such that the theatre was closed for many years to come.

Theatre opens: 20th November 1929

The Streatham Hill Theatre was due to open, offering “West End shows at provincial prices”, on Monday 18th November 1929, but wasn’t quite ready.

It was ready enough to open on the Wednesday, 20th November 1929, with the C. B. Cochran revue Wake up and Dream.

A lavish programme was published telling the story of the theatre and its features. The Stage newspaper covered the opening in its 21st November edition, saying that “The Theatre on Streatham Hill provides south side suburbs with a playhouse of which they can be justly proud.

Foundation Stone Laye’d: 6th September 1928

Over 90 years ago local resident and international celebrity of stage and screen, Evelyn Laye laid the foundation stone for the Streatham Hill Playhouse as it was originally to be known.

A new theatre for the “West End of South London”: 26th October 1927

Streatham Hill Theatre (SHT) was designed by W. G. R Sprague and W. H.
Barton, with a capacity of around 2800 and a stage the size of the London
Palladium. It formed part of Streatham’s theatre and entertainment offer when the area was known as “The West End of South London” and (due to the wealth of talent living in the area) as “The Beverly Hills of London”.

W. G. R. Sprague was also the architect responsible for some of the most beautiful and well-known theatres in central London.

The London County Council approved the plans on 26th October 1927.