House! A night out at the bingo in South Shields

Playing bingo at the Mecca Social Club, in Dean Road, Westoe.
Playing bingo at the Mecca Social Club, in Dean Road, Westoe.

Bingo has undergone something of a make-over in recent years.

The humble numbers game has been turned on its head by events companies across the country. They’ve injected it with music, comedy, audience interaction and more.

Crowds line the Groyne at South Shields in 1970 to watch the departure of the Esso Northumbria.

Crowds line the Groyne at South Shields in 1970 to watch the departure of the Esso Northumbria.

Mind you, there was fun and games to be had when, a few years ago, reader Sheryl Davison celebrated her birthday at the bingo hall in Dean Road, Westoe – and found out that incorrectly calling out “house” is no laughing matter.

Sheryl recalled the occasion after we featured a photo of the South Tyneside bingo hall on the Gazette’s Facebook page.

It prompted her to say: “I hated bingo, but I once went there on my birthday with my sister. I shouted ‘house’ on two lines, over comes the caller to check. ‘Oops’ they have to be on the same ticket.

“We couldn’t move for laughing, however, the die-hard players were not amused. I’ve never played since.”

Other readers also got in touch with their memories.

Sandra Wilson said: “Loved it, miss it ... the people and the staff were great, so was the Xmas party, the star turn being Blake, and the staff singing and getting dressed up. Good times.” While Emma Baker recalls: “Blake winning bingo caller of the year.”

Pamela Robinson emailed: “My nana loved this place when she was alive and dragged me along many a time. Oh what I’d give for one more night with her. I couldn’t see my books for her smoking her head off.”

Amanda Surtees said: “My gran lived in this place. She loved it. Remember sitting on the stage with her,” while Isobel Myers Nicholaidis spoke of the time “my sister sat on the stage, her big night out”.

Meanwhile, a photo showing crowds lining the Groyne in 1970 to watch the departure of the Esso Northumbria, also generated a lot of comments.

Audrey Sanderson said: “I was there with my two daughters. We were wrapped up well because it was freezing,” with Dorothy Welsh agreeing, saying “it was really cold”.

Paul Clark posted: “I was there and have cine/video footage of it. My dad took it,” while Helen Harker revealed how “my husband was a mechanic on this ship, but later on in its life”.

Anthony Brew recalls the occasion, saying: “Remember it well, as a seven-year-old.”