The former Garrick Theatre on Lord Street in Southport. Mecca Bingo has announced that it will not be reopening at the site. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

A campaign group has been launched in a bid to save the former Garrick Theatre in Southport. 

The magnificent art deco building on the Lord Street boulevard once hosted world famous stars of stage and screen including Julie Andrews, Laurel and Hardy and many others. 

Today it looks forward to an uncertain future after Mecca Bingo announced earlier in April that it would not be reopening the site after lockdown. 

The Save The Garrick theatre Southport campaign has been started on Facebook by Jonathan Lightfoot, who wants local people to give their support to safeguarding its future. 

In the group, he wrote: “We know the Garrick is up for sale and it can be let for a lot of money each year. I’ve been in touch with the Theatres Trust and they can help us set up a campaign group to protect the building. Once we do that we can then approach Sefton Council for the Community Right to Bid.

“The right came into force on 21st September 2012 and its purpose is to give communities a right to identify a property that is believed to be of value to their social interests or social wellbeing. It is also intended to give them a fair chance to make a bid to buy a property on the open market if the property owner decides to sell. 

“It’s becoming a big project and I have to admit right now it’s turning into a big beast very quickly. But if we don’t try we won’t know if we can save it.

“Let’s at least see where it takes us.

“Thank you to all of you who are willing to give of your time and experience.”

The beautiful four-storey landmark building was made famous by artist Fortunino Matania’s iconic ‘Southport In Wintertime’ travel poster. 

Southport In Wintertime by Fortunino Matania

Southport In Wintertime by Fortunino Matania

It was built in 1932 and designed by architect George Tonge. 

The news of Mecca Bingo’s departure from the site was met with a huge response, with 300 comments in the Stand Up For Southport Facebook group and over 250 on the Mecca Bingo Southport Facebook page. 

Some people have called for it to be reopened as a theatre, while Southport Theatre & Convention Centre is rebuilt; others would like to see it become a casino; a pub; a cinema; or a gym.

The former ABC Cinema across the road was converted into apartments three decades ago. Could it become a new living space? 

The former Odeon Cinema on Lord Street, which was built in 1911, was demolished in 2008 to make way for The Vincent Hotel and the Save The Garrick campaigners are hoping that their bid to save this landmark proves successful. 

Earlier in April Mecca Bingo announced that its premises on Lord Street in Southport will not be reopening after the national Covid-19 lockdown ends. 

The bingo hall has entertained many thousands of guests for eyes down inside one of Lord Street’s grandest buildings. 

Mecca Bingo Operations Director John Dyson said: “On behalf of everyone at Mecca Bingo in Southport, we are very sad to confirm that we will not be reopening our club in May and will be closing permanently.

“Mecca Southport has been a part of the local community for many years and we want to say a huge thank you to every single one of our incredible customers for their loyalty and support – we will miss you very much.

“Mecca plays a very special part in the community and has done for 60 years, bringing people together in our clubs and online. We wish all of our colleagues and customers well for the future.

“We will be keeping our Mecca Bingo Southport page open for the coming month, and we are happy to help with any queries you might have.

“Farewell from all of the Team at Mecca Southport.”

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