A former cinema and bingo hall in Fleetwood, which has been closed for six years, has been given a new lease of life.
Film events and bingo sessions could return to the old Barneys Bingo Hall, originally the Victoria Cinema, after it was bought by Fleetwood-based firm Wyre Marine Services.
Now the firm is in discussions with Fleetwood Plus Community Interest Company (CIC) about plans for them to lease the Poulton Road building and create a multi-use arts and community centre.
The plans include transforming the main hall into a 400 or 600-seat theatre, for use by a variety of groups, with proposals for older films to also be shown there on a large projector screen.
Other groups would be invited to lease rooms for a variety of activities.
Robert Pinkus, the agents handling the sale of the building, confirmed an offer had been accepted on the premises and final notifications from solicitors was expected any day.
Basically, they have bought it specifically with a view for it to be used for the benefit of the community
George Greenall, director of Fleetwood Plus CIC, said: “We’ll be meeting with Wyre Marine representatives this week to go into further details about what we hope to do.
“Basically, they have bought it specifically with a view for it to be used for the benefit of the community.
“Now we’ve been given the go ahead we can start planning and discussing the layout.
“There are really good possibilities for setting up a community theatre for lots of local groups to use, various other performance spaces and meeting rooms for different youth and community groups.
“It couldn’t be a modern cinema like The Vue in Cleveleys, but there would easily be the possibilities of showing old films on a big screen in the main hall.
“We would also revive occasional bingo sessions as fund-raising nights.
“The building would retain its Victoria name and we would be looking to restore many of the features to their former glory including the outside.”
Discussions will include what structural work and repairs would need doing, and this would reflect on how much Fleetwood CIC would have to pay on the lease.
The news has been welcomed by Fleetwood Civic Society chairman Margaret Daniels , who said: “It would be nice to see it restored and put to good use by lots of different community groups.
“I’m really pleased to see it has been saved for the people of Fleetwood.”
A spokesman for Robert Pinkus said: “The sale has been completed and we’re just awaiting final notifications from the solicitors.”
The building has not been used since April 2009, when the Top Ten Bingo operation ceased, with the loss of 15 jobs.
In 2010 Rocky Richmond, the manager of the former Orion bingo hall in Cleveleys, planned to start leasing the Fleetwood building for bingo sessions.
He estimated it would need around £100,000 worth of repairs, but nothing came of his plans.
The cinema itself was built in the 1930s and closed in the 1960s.
Like many picture palaces from the golden age of cinema, attendances were hit by television and it then became a locally-run bingo hall – Barneys – in 1967 under the auspices of Bernard Killoran.
But almost a decade after Herefordshire-based Top Ten took over in 2000, the smoking ban, the credit crunch and online bingo finally called time on the business and the building’s future looked grim.
Now a new chapter looks set to begin.