Listed building in heart of Leicestershire town would have been lost if it was 'neglected' any longer

Beacon Bingo in Loughborough
New owners said it was 'no exaggeration' that if the building had remained in a 'state of neglect' it could have 'easily been lost' -Credit:Google

A grade two listed building in the heart of Loughborough could have become “irreparable” if it was “neglected for much longer”, its new owners have said. The Junction Church wants to turn the Beacon Bingo building in Baxter Gate into a community hub over the next ten years.

The church said it had bought the “tired” building for £1.25million and said it was in “dire need of investment”. It said it initially wants the space to act as a base for community action projects such as youth clubs and food banks.

In the long term it plans to “re-create something of the beauty of the original 1700-seat theatre” attracting performances and events to the town with footfall that could potentially “be a real boost to local businesses”. However it said a recent inspection revealed that there is asbestos in the building and that urgent work is needed to repair leaks in the roof.

READ MORE: Employees 'devastated' as Loughborough Beacon Bingo shuts down for good

The church said the roof would need to be completely replaced. It said that damp and moisture in the building would have eventually led to erosion that would have “compromised the structure”.

It said “extensive surveys” had shown that the building is structurally sound however. Further down the line, it wants to hold events and performances as well as accommodating church services on a Sunday.

It said when work on the main hall is concluded it wants to make this available for community hire. Roy Todd, pastor at Junction Church Loughborough said: “It would be a travesty if the former Beacon Bingo building were lost due to neglect.

“We want to ensure its longevity for the benefit of the Loughborough community and make the necessary investment so it once again becomes an asset to the town." The building was a cinema when it was first built in 1936.

From the mid 70s onwards it was a bingo hall before it permanently closed in March 2021. Now, Junction Church wants to turn the space into a hub for current community projects such as youth clubs, kids’ clubs, warm spaces, food banks, stay and plays, and a soup kitchen that serves free meals every week.

In the medium term it said the aim is to open the building for community events including supporting families during school holidays. Before this can happen, work will begin to remove asbestos from the building.

It said some asbestos tiles were "crumbling" and that it appeared that "holes have been unwittingly drilled into sections of asbestos walls". The church said it also found a discarded bag full of material marked 'asbestos' in a room.

It said the professional removal of all the asbestos could take two months. After that the church wants to have a “big clear out”.

It said over the years a “significant amount of rubbish” had built up in the building. It said this will be discarded.

However, during the clean-up it said it will arrange a morning for local people to stop by and collect any memorabilia from the building including bingo tables and tombolas. The church said a brand-new heating system will also be installed which it said will be more efficient and environmentally friendly than the “current outdated system” which it said was designed for the 1930s.

It said that the large vents through which the boiler pumps heat, lose the "majority" of any heat produced. It also said that an inspection revealed that fresh air vents had been blocked up.

It said this was: "Presumably an attempt to prevent further heat loss. However, the latter prevents much-needed fresh air from getting into the theatre."

It said insulation will be added to help reduce the carbon footprint of the building. It said the name of the building will also be changed, however no information on what it will be changed to has been revealed.

The church said its members have raised over £230,000 towards the project so far.It said it will be partnering with “funding agencies who offer assistance in the restoration of properties like this” to continue the project.

It said it will ensure the building “never again” finds itself in the “run-down state it is currently in.” It said it is under “no illusions about the scale of the challenge.”

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