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Great Britain Grand Casino - Southport - June 2020

The Excursionists

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Grand Casino

This is another well covered site but one we have always took a massive interest in and a long waiting game finally rewarded us with the chance to see inside for ourselves.

History:

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We are sure you are aware of the history here but I will sum it up again.

Built in 1923 as a car showroom and garage the Grand Casino highly differed back then compared to its current state today. The site entered the entertainment realm in 1938 where it became The Grand Cinema designed by George E. Tonge to operate via an independent operator. The seating inside the cinema was 'stadium' like consisting of pit, royal and grand stalls sloping up the huge main hall. Balconies stemmed out each side from the grand and royal stall area. These points gave a great vantage point for exploring. The grilles at each side of the proscenium are an eye-catching piece of design and originally housed the pipes of the Compton 3Manual Organ. This organ was later removed in 1963 and replaced by one previously situated in the Regal Cinema on the Isle of Man. The Grand Cinema then closed in 1966 and followed in the footsteps of many cinemas where it became a bingo hall for roughly the next 33 years. The cinema building became Stanley Grand Casino up until 2007 before changing hands and becoming Mint Casino until the building finally closed in 2016.

This photo shows the site in its final years where the entrance decor was branded with "Stanley Grand Casino".

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The Explore:

The first June report of the casino gave us hope to finally see inside this ex-cinema. We made a journey over one evening feeling apprehensive about the entrance to building still being open. We were in luck and quickly found ourselves setting foot in the huge main hall overwhelmed by the immense art-deco light fixture and intricate details. The hall is truly frozen in time with most bingo tables sat lifeless slowly decaying from the large volume of water entering the building. The contrasting state in here offers comparisons between the less damaged parts and the parts too far gone which is interesting to observe and document. The lobby has luckily been spared from the water damage and the art deco features remains in relatively good condition. Sadly due to the evening visit we didn't capture the stained glass Disney characters where the casino machines sit (you'll know of these if you are already familiar with the site).

First up, the lobby which had a nice set of pillars spanning the width of the room. The staircase opens out to invite you up towards the main hall.


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Round the rear of this staircase sits the two display cabinets and long hallways you may have seen before.

Now onto the hall... it is safe to say its a pain to light but made for a good challenge. We also fell victim to the treacherous floors numerous times!

The most impressive feature has to be this amazing light fixture!

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This photograph demonstrates the 'stadium' seating design and shows the difference of layout since it became a bingo hall.

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This is the view off of the left side balcony which is considered a more unique feature.

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Underneath the proscenium was a 'buffet bar' for the bingo players to use. The menu still had the options displayed behind the bar which you can just make out from the photo below. Previously when the site was a cinema, a cafe was elsewhere inside the building that patrons of the cinema could use.

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Here you can see the bar in use (sort of) and decorated for Christmas.

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Clambering on-top of the bar gave the best view point of the entire hall. In my opinion it captures the scale of the room the best.

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Our video here captures some of the parts we didn't photograph and gives you a closer look at what remains and the condition of the site. Feel free to watch below!:


Thanks for reading :)
 
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