PLANS to turn Bournemouth’s former Grand bingo hall into a Wetherspoons pub have come to nothing, it has emerged.

More than a year after the venue was closed, there is no official word on its future.

The Grand was used as a cinema for 55 years and a bingo venue for almost 40.

Bournemouth Echo:

The Grand Cinema in Westbourne 1922

Bingo came to an end in January 2018 after the operator decided there was not enough business to keep it going.

Shortly afterwards, the property group Elliott Heron, which had bought the venue, said JD Wetherspoon was “very interested” in the building.

However, a Wetherspoons spokesman told the Daily Echo that the idea had come to nothing.

“We were looking at this site but the owner sold it to a developer,” he said.

It is understood that the venue was bought by Currentasset Ltd, trading as 10 Ant Group. The owner could not be reached for comment.

Bournemouth Echo: The Grand Cinema in 1954, from Bournemouth Libraries' Streets of Bournemouth collection

The Grand Cinema in 1954, from Bournemouth Libraries' Streets of Bournemouth collection

Westbourne and West Cliff councillor Nick Rose has asked council officials for an update on any plans that they are aware of.

The Grand was opened in December 1922, seating 1,000 people in its stalls and balcony. Its auditorium originally had a sliding roof which was opened in hot weather. It was part of the ABC chain for some years and often showed big releases that had finished their runs at the bigger cinemas in Bournemouth.

It ceased to be a full-time cinema in 1973 and films finally gave way to bingo for good in 1977, after a showing of In Love With Sex.

Bournemouth Echo: Interior of the Grand at Westbourne pictured in 2011 by Alwyn Ladell

Interior of the Grand at Westbourne pictured in 2011 by Alwyn Ladell

Before its closure as a cinema, the Grand was itself immortalised on film. In 1976, director Ken Russell used its auditorium to represent a New York cinema for his movie Valentino. A cast of local extras joined Felicity Kendal for the scene.

Bingo at the Grand pulled in 2,000-2,500 players a week at one time, but demand slumped in recent years, affected by the ease of online gambling and the ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

Simon Bartlam, owner of the bingo hall, said he had been forced to sell, telling the Daily Echo last year: “It’s not viable any more. Admissions are down to under 600 people a week. You just can’t make money out of that, unfortunately.”

James Weir, heritage and conservation officer at Bournemouth Civic Society, has previously said the Grand was “remarkably well looked after” in its bingo years and was “remarkably intact internally”. The auditorium looked much the same as in its cinema days, including its decorative plasterwork, he said.