Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Arcades


As a historian I always believe that nostalgia attracts more interest than history and some articles on my Blog have proved this fact. Being someone who has lived Thanet for all of their life I often reflect how surreal it was when Dreamland and Pleasurama were in full flow during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Like most teenagers I hung around both fairgrounds and the sea front arcades. At one point in the early seventies I even got a job selling ice cream from a kiosk owned by HFS on Margate seafront earning 25 pence an hour. There was something unique about the bright lights and Arcades, especially the strong American influences passed over from the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Some machines in particular had been especially imported for the American forces when they were based at Manston like pin balls. There was a popular pin ball like machine that had no flippers and the idea was to line up numbers like a game of bingo by getting the balls in the correct number sequence to complete a straight line. On these machines the coin entry had been altered from accepting a nickel to a sixpence and a complete line earned the player a prize. The early mechanical one armed bandits were also typically American and some of the designs resembled an art deco radiator of an American truck. I can remember the one penny one armed bandits from the Margate Pier amusements were thrown over the side because the Margate Pier and Harbour Company would not pay the conversion costs for “Old machines” when we went decimal. Gradually the old arcade machines were phased out and replaced with more up to date electronic versions. Even the Juke boxes became small boxes on the wall. Eventually the American influences disappeared and were replaced with an Anglo Japanese electronic influence.
With Dreamland and Pleasurama now gone and apart from photographs there are not many tangible reminders of this 50’s/60’s/70’s seafront arcade era. However, recently I was going through a box of coins when I came across some arcade tokens which I have now started collecting. The Ace tokens pictured were valued at sixpence or 2 1/ 2 pence with a maximum payout of 25 pence. They were dispensed from a 1970’s early push button machine that operated three reels that had to line up matching icons for a cash prize, three ace of clubs paid 25pence in tokens. I can remember winning 75 pence in tokens and cashing them in for Mars bars at 7p each and eating the lot, but I won’t go into the result.

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