Power to the people

The Hippodrome Bingo, Bishop Auckland welcomes ‘The People’s Museum’. When the Hippodrome Bingo Club first got a call from Michael O’Neill asking if he could meet to discuss the idea of a museum, they were a little sceptical and wondered if someone had designs on buying the 111 year old building.

Having no appetite to sell their premises and a wish to carry on playing bingo for many years to come, Majestic soon discovered the real reason for the enquiry and forged a great working relationship with Michael, helping to deliver the dream of The People’s Museum in Bishop Auckland, which Majestic Bingo have made possible.

Following the discovery of cinematic projectors and original seats during a recent renovation, local history enthusiasts formed a community group to raise money to create a ‘People’s Museum’. The building, owned and run by Majestic Bingo, was originally opened as a theatre on 24th July 1909, with the foundation stone having been laid by Sir William Eden, of Windlestone Hall, father of Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden. Shortly after opening it became the Essoldo cinema until 1962 when it became a bingo club.

The Peoples Museum was opened by Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland, bringing the area’s rich heritage to life in a building that has been part of the local community for over 100 years.

Speaking of the project, Michael O’Neill, Chairman of community group behind The People’s Museum said: “The project has been a real pleasure and to be fair it’s the very best location in the town. The Hippodrome Bingo Club has a fantastic heritage and is the last original theatre/cinema left standing in Bishop Auckland. It will be a great addition to the Hippodrome for visitors and members alike.

“There’s also an element of family interest – many people have contacted us saying their grandparents or relatives worked there, so there are a lot of personal links within the community in that way. 

“I think it will not only bring back memories for the older generations, but also get younger generations involved and teach them about the history of Bishop Auckland, which we should be very proud of.”

Mark Jepp, Managing Director commented: “We are delighted to support this project as it links well with our company ethos of serving the local community in Bishop Auckland. I think it is a great initiative and will remain in place as a local attraction that complements the Hippodrome for many years to come.”

By opening a museum, the group hopes to provide a glimpse of the town history’s and heritage and give older generations fond memories. The building will still operate as a bingo club, with the museum running alongside this at different times.

The Museum is open to visit throughout the week whenever the bingo club is open and all are welcome to view the work undertaken by the community group and see the items on display. Entry is free but due to it being within a licenced bingo club, all attendees will need to be over the age of 18.