At the risk of sounding like a Peter Kaye impersonator, hands up who remembers The Secret Life of Machines, a fairly early on Channel 4 series, presented by Tim Hunkin with the significant assistance of the late Rex Garrod?
I’ve some great memories of the series, which have now been remastered and updated by Tim himself, including a few coin-op ones as at around 14 minutes in the Vacuum Cleaner episode above – as an aside Tim demonstrates some coin payout equipment. Although only a few seconds long – and indeed the entire point of the series being to demystify machines – this was the first time I had seen such secret hidden things on national TV! Before the advent of the internet, when I can just google ‘coin-op equipment’ and get thousands of results, this was quite a thing. There is a short interview with Tim Hunkin here and of course there is far more to him than these TV programs, however excellent they are.
But, I won’t try and make this short post a biography so suffice to say you shouldn’t ever visit London (Holborn) or Southwold Pier (I happily admit I had to google it!) without visiting the Novelty Automation [“a leisure facility of satirical home-made machines“] or The Under The Pier Show [“a mad arcade of home-made machines & simulator rides“].
Without reading too much into this than I suspect is intended, there IS clearly a philosophy behind both these ventures, not only of the publics ‘investment’ in art but also the website article ‘In Praise Of Coin Operated Machines” being a credible and considered manifesto if ever I saw one, for coin-op ephemera.
And if you have any spare time on your hands, check out Tim’s concise ‘A Short History Of Amusement Arcades’ which might not be long, but does cover a lot of ground.