Mechanical Memories Museum

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Mutoscopes on the Palace pier

Above: Mutoscopes (What the Butler Saw machines) on the Palace pier, c1950s - before they were vintage!

About Mechanical Memories

Mechanical Memories is a ‘working museum’ of vintage coin-operated amusement machines, and is representative of seaside amusement arcades of half a century ago. Our aim is not only to preserve these wondrous and fun machines, but equally to preserve the purpose for which they were produced........ to be played! On entering Mechanical Memories, fond memories are evoked in those who can remember back to the 1960s or beyond, and younger visitors are equally enthralled; children in particular are fascinated by the machines which at one time entertained their grandparents.

For a brief time, visitors are transported back to a gentler age, when the summers were long, the sun always shone and when a trip to the seaside would invariably include donkey rides, Punch & Judy, a leisurely stroll on the pier, and playing the latest novelty machines in the arcades. Those machines are all to be found at Mechanical Memories: what the butler saw, the laughing sailor, working models, puppet machines, skill games, fortune tellers, and the most popular arcade machines of all time - the allwins.

Our machines work as they were intended, on big old pre-decimal pennies. Older visitors love to see and use these old pennies again, and children are amazed at just
how big they are! Old pennies to play the machines can be bought at the museum for a moderate price, but please note that visitors are not permitted to bring their own, as the sale of old pennies is our only income.

Our history

In 1979, two early collectors of vintage amusement machines set up the National Museum of Penny Slot Machines on the old Birnbeck pier at Weston-Super-Mare. Vintage machines at that time were easy to acquire, as arcade operators and showmen were keen to dispose of them, and for very little money. Unfortunately, the venture was not a success, due to the isolated position of Birnbeck pier and its subsequent low visitor numbers.

Undeterred, the following year the National Museum of Penny Slot Machines moved to the Palace pier, Brighton, where it was housed in the magnificent grade II listed theatre building, at the pier head. The museum was a popular attraction with tourists and local people alike, and thrived until the mid 1980s, when the new pier owners demolished the old theatre as part of their redevelopment plans.

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