For this week’s Curiosity of the Week we bring you a little London attraction that is just a bit different. If you like the peculiar and are a fan of the absurd, then read on!
Novelty Automation can be found tucked away on Princeton Street between Holborn and Chancery Lane tube stations in London. From the outside, with its old fashioned frontage, it looks like an unassuming little shop. But once inside you realise that this is something else altogether, as you are faced with a multitude of strange and wonderful looking contraptions all vying for your attention.
The attraction sprung up in Holborn after Tim Hunkin ran out of space for his quirky machines at his Southwold arcade. Novelty Automation is basically a room full of mechanical machines which serve no real purpose other than to amuse and entertain.
And amuse and entertain they do, with the best of these wacky machines allowing you to interact in games and challenges. The machines do change from time to time, but when we visited there was everything from Cyclepong and money laundering games, to a quirky photobooth and an armchair holiday to enjoy.
Unlike other attractions, you pay for tokens to use in the machines, rather than an admission fee. To buy tokens for all the machines is a little pricey, but it if you go with a friend you could split the cost (as we did). Alternatively you can just buy a few tokens and have a go on the machines you think look the most interesting.
The machines themselves vary and some are more interactive (and slightly intimidating) than others. There is the Expressive Photobooth which does unusual things in order to take unposed photos of you (so be prepared). There is Cyclepong, which is the classic game of Pong, except you control the bat by peddling forwards or backwards on an old exercise bike (it’s trickier than you think). Then there is Money Laundering, a game where you need to steal coins by operating a crane; but don’t get caught by the bankers otherwise you lose it all!
You can also put your belongings into a machine to let it decide whether it is art, witness an instant eclipse or see who wins in the race to divorce.
There are some scarier machines too, which involve putting your foot into a chiropodist machine, your hand into an angry dog’s cage or getting frisked by some automated rubber gloves.
Then there are the completely silly and fun machines which allow you to go on an armchair holiday, spy on celebs with a drone, and train at a nuclear facility. Not to mention, a Small Hadron Collider, the Instant Weight Loss machine, and the Pet Or Meat machine which determines the outcome of a poor little lamb.
You can visit this wonderful Novelty Automation arcade from Wednesdays to Saturdays, any time from 11am to 6pm, with late opening on Thursdays (until 8pm). For all you big kids out there, the arcade is now open on the first Thursday of the month until 10pm, with a bar available. So you can enjoy a drink whilst you have a play on the machines! The first of these events begins tonight (5th May).
More info: www.novelty-automation.com