The newly rebranded Buzz Bingo Club (formerly Granada Cinema) has been wrapped in scaffolding for the last few weeks. The front of the building has needed maintenance for some years and buddleia plants have sprouted at various points on the front of the building. Tooting History Group has been reassured by Buzz that cleaning and maintenance are the only reasons for the erection of the scaffolding. Old fixings which now have ‘b i n g o’ lettering will be removed where previously Granada was spelt out. Anything that replaces it will require planning permission because of the listed status of the building.
The building is the only Grade 1 listed purpose-built 1930’s cinema in Britain. It is also the only Grade 1 listed building in Tooting. This is the highest category of listing. To quote Historic England: ” Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I .” You can find further details and search the Historic England national list here.
The Granada opened on September 7th 1931 and ran as a cinema until declining audiences led to it’s closure on 10th November 1973. The building reopened as The Granada Bingo Club in 1976. Retitled The Gala Bingo Club, it has been a bingo venue for the last 42 years which is as as long as it was a Cinema and live music venue.
The building is open annually for The Open House Weekend, when there are guided tours which prove to be very popular every year. Alternatively, you can join the bingo club and see the wonderful interiors any day of the week. At our October 2018 meeting, we had an excellent talk by Richard Gray from the Cinema Theatre Association about the Picture Palaces of Tooting and the surrounding area. The Cinema Theatre Association was founded in 1967 and made it’s first visit to any cinema to The Granada, Tooting.
The final accolade for the building goes to Ian Nairn who was architectural correspondent for the Observer newspaper and made several TV series on the towns and buildings of Britain in the 1960s and 70s. He wrote an architectural guidebook to London and states uncategorically to London visitors: “Miss the Tower of London if you have to, but don’t miss the Tooting Granada”.