'Absolutely adored this place' - Memories of nights out at Sunderland's Mecca Centre

The revolving dance floor, your favourite bands and getting the pit bus home – they all feature in your fondest memories of nights out at Sunderland’s Mecca Centre.

Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 3:29 pm

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The Newcastle Road venue – which featured a bowling alley underneath the nightclub – first opened in the 1960s as the Locarno ballroom.

And while you may have known it under a number of different names, there’s no denying it was a favourite on the Sunderland night-out scene up until its closure in 2003.

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Eight pictures showing the rise and fall of the Locarno - what are your memories...

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Thousands of customers enjoyed club nights, live music and milestone moments there over the years, with hundreds of Echo readers getting in touch on social media to share the memories that stand out most.

It was the meeting place and starting point for many relationships, and the venue where you fell in love with your favourite bands.

The Mecca may have also been home to your first ever night out, with some paying tribute to the under-18 nights held at Genevieve’s.

Or did an evening out there prompt the start of life-long friendships with fellow music fans? And who can forget the bag of chips on the way home.

The Mecca Centre, in Newcastle Road, pictured in 1979.

The building was eventually demolished in 2012, but the memories live on!

Here are some of your stories from the Sunderland Echo Facebook page. Click here to add your own to the post.

Michelle Williamson: “Met my hubby there in 1981. We were on opposing teams in the Wouldhave league. Been married 39 years this year.”

Angela Barnfather: “Fab memories, went from heavy rock to Motown in one venue. Best nights out I had.”

The demolition of the old Excel Bowling Alley and Locarno in Newcastle Road. Picture: Angela Burn.

Deborah Fitzsimmons: “Absolutely adored this place, had some great nights, coming home on the pit bus, priceless.”

Cris Watson Hope: “Some of my favourite memories are of a Friday night in the Mecca. Great bands, great people and my love for heavy music started in there.”

Emma Bellerby: “Best times of my life! Was absolutely devastated to see it being pulled down.”

Karen Palmer: “Loved going to Genevieves 'Teen Scene' with friends, on Tuesday and Saturday nights for 14-18 year olds.”

Brenda Yarnell Meadows: “We had some great nights out in Tiffany’s and the Mayfair, so so sad to see it go.”

Brenda Connor: “Was highlight of my week, Friday night at Tiffany's, loved it, sad when it was demolished.”

Jackie Walton: “The nights at the bowling alley when they used to put fluorescent pins out. If you got a strike you won things like free games and vouchers for the cafe.”

Sylvia Boyce: “Met my husband in the Locarno in 1965 we have been married nearly 54 years, great memories.”

Alison Richardson: “Where I met my husband, Friday rock night.”

Sellers Davison: “Watched Madness on the revolving stage...class. Spent many a time snogging under the stairs!”

Alan Martist: “Heavy night on a Friday early eighties was superb. Saw Iron Maiden there before they hit the big time, UFO were excellent as well.”

Sara Hardy: “The night someone pinched my bag with my shoes and car keys in at the bowling alley. Had to go home in bowling shoes!”

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