“Yellow, three and nine, thirty nine, on the red, on its own, number one”.
Many will have childhood memories of the monotonous tones of the bored-sounding bingo caller at seaside amusement arcades from the 1960s and 70s. It was so ubiquitous at the popular resorts of the post war years, that you could walk along an arcade-lined street and not distinguish one caller from another. The sixpences that flowed into the coin slots made fortunes for many operators.
From the 1940s Bingo was also popular on the Fairgrounds. At least two were still operating in the West of England up until the 1980s. At the bigger fairs such as Nottingham and Hull it is still popular. At permanent Bingo Clubs, mainly former cinemas, the business has boomed. Now the on line version is even bigger.
Like many fairground attractions: Candy Floss, Hot Dogs, the Big Wheel and Dodgem cars, Bingo has its origins in America. It had travelled there with the myriad of migrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from Europe, where a version had been played at fairs and festivals for centuries.
A 1950s Bingo stall, hugely popular at fairs after the war, is now among the other glittering exhibits at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre in readiness for the new season. A lucky find amongst the swag (prizes) that accompanied it were two tea chests of decorative glassware, given as prizes in years gone by.
The stall was built for Scottish showman Bob Lovett by Marklands of Newton le Willows, probably in the 1950s and originally featured artwork by Duffields of Colchester. Sadly little remains of this now as it was rebuilt by Marklands in the 1980s for new owner Danny Knowles, and redecorated by David Markland in a style typical of that period.
Putting it all together, without instructions, proved a bit of a head ache, but volunteers at the Fairground Heritage Centre have managed the task, after a thorough removal of cobwebs and dust!
Come along this season and try your luck.