A small shop on a small side street now contains a small collection of sea-side style mechanical entertainments. Hidden from casual passers by, this adult arcade games arena is familiar to any seaside visitor, yet utterly different.

No time for silly games of picking up a soft toy with a remote arm — here its nuclear waste. Guess your weight — no thanks, here its a drastic weight loss.

Cant be bothered with a holiday, try the holiday simulator. Or dare the frisky pat-down.


It is, as they say, a mad arcade full of home-made coin operated machines, built by enthusiasts. Wander in, hand over £4.50 for 5 tokens, and away you go.

The eclipse simulator is a tiny box to sit in, and when the doors close, the glowing orb above your head is slowly concealed, as the sounds of animals become more animated. Darkness falls, the animals go to sleep, and the stars glow for a brief moment. Then scare the people outside as the door unexpectedly opens and you walk out.

Put your hand in a steel cage and dare the red-eyed dog, and even though you know what is about the happen, it’s still a surprise. And I hope that was plain water that was used.


Best of all though, loading the nuclear reactor, a long-winded game that I was delightfully good at, and took an arm tiring 10 minutes to complete.


The new venue, Novelty Automation is now open on Princeton Street in Holborn.



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  1. martin says:

    I think you missed a key detail here, which is that these are the works of Tim Hunkin – presenter of the ‘secret life of…’ programmes on Channel 4 in the 80s, and also designer of the similarly-themed gallery in the basement of the Science Museum.

    I’d been meaning for ages to see his Under the Pier exhibit in Southwold, so glad to see I don’t have to go quite so far…

  2. We went to Southwold specially for the Tim Hunkin experience and it was fantastic!

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