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Cinema to get a new lease of life as bingo hall.

A FORMER cinema is set to have new life breathed into it.

In its heyday the Imperia Cinema in Gateshead played host to some of Britain's most talented film stars.

The Grade II-listed building, which once boasted a seating capacity of 700, will be transformed back to its former glory and into a new bingo hall.

Work to create the Imperia Bingo Hall, in Victoria Square, Felling, is well under way and will be officially opened by Gateshead's Lord Mayor at the end of the month.

Developers have spent more than PS200,000 refurbishing the building and have brought 20 new jobs to the region.

Located in the heart of Felling, the Imperia, as it is now known, was originally The Imperial Cinema on Wellington Street, which opened in November 1910.

In 1915, architect J Newton Fatkin prepared plans to add a dress circle and increase the capacity and, in 1923, the Imperia Cinema was born.

But, just years after the renovations, the building was gutted by fire and was considered too damaged to be rebuilt.

So, in 1928, owner Joseph Smith built the Imperia Palais de Dance at Victoria Square and it opened on August 25 with American actress Janet Gaynor in Sunny Side Up.

After decades of success, the Imperia, or the "Pally" as it was called, closed its doors in February 1962 with Walter Pidgeon in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. In its later years, it became a bingo club and operated as an independent Top Ten Bingo Club, but the building has stood empty for the past three years.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 16, 2013
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