The Aylesbury cinema was originally Pavilion Cinema following its 1937 re-opening but became the Granada in 1946 until it closed in 1972 and became a Granada bingo hall, with its last name change in 1991 to Gala Bingo.
We are so pleased to learn that the old Gala bingo hall looks set to be saved from demolition as Bucks County Council consider proposals from two potential investors. The iconic building has sat empty and near derelict since closing its doors in February 2019. However, before this had been synonymous with entertainment in Aylesbury since re-opening its doors in 1937 as the Pavilion Cinema, later becoming the Granada Cinema in 1946.
At least two investors are known to be interested in the iconic council owned building, with both thought to be preparing proposals.
The council hope it can become an attraction once more bringing visitors into the town centre and providing a boost to the local economy.
After the old ODEON cinema building was demolished to make way for Oscar Lodge, a retirement apartment building from Churchill Retirement there was an outcry from some local residents fearful the bingo hall will share the same fate, some of whom came together to call for it to be saved when a petition was started with comments from residents calling for Aylesbury’s Iconic buildings be preserved:
You can sign the petition here which is well on its way to fulfilling its target signatory’s (https://www.change.org/p/martin-tett-save-the-old-granada-cinema-aylesbury).
As reported in an article by Rory Butler & Dan Gooding Cabinet member for town centre regeneration, Cllr Steve Bowles, said:
“We’ve been looking to try and get a person to take that on.
“We’ve actually had two people who have looked at that building and we’re awaiting their business cases coming forward.
“There are things moving on Gala Bingo (Buzz)…I’m keen to push that forward, it’s been stood in a sort of semi-derelict condition for a number of years and it’s a big premises on the high street.
“I’m keen to try and get a use in there that’s going to draw people back into our town, perhaps something along the lines of an arts music centre and that’s what one of the people looking around thought to bring into the town.”
Cllr Bowles said were an arts and music venue possible in the future, it might also encourage people to linger in the high street to shop and visit places to eat and drink.
“I think that’s going to be the trick going forward.
“We need to get different usages within our town centres. Gala Bingo is a really iconic building in Aylesbury.”
Council officer Claire Hunter confirmed there exists a “sufficient” sinking fund inherited from the former Aylesbury Vale District Council which “could cover the maintenance costs” until a decision is taken.