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Novelty Automation

Things to do, Games and hobbies Holborn
4 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
Novelty Automation
Photograph: Novelty Automation
Novelty Automation
Photograph: Novelty Automation
Novelty Automation
Photograph: Novelty Automation
Novelty Automation
Photograph: Novelty Automation

Time Out says

Want a divorce? Fancy a cheap holiday? Need to launder money or lose weight? All these things and many others can be achieved for the modest outlay of a pound (sometimes two) at the nutty slot machines of Novelty Automation in a small shabby space behind a Bloomsbury shopfront. Once displayed in the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre on the lower level of Covent Garden’s Apple Market, these lovingly crafted moving sculptures are almost all the work of cartoonist Tim Hunkin. Highlights include Test Your Nerve – a slot machine that invites you to place your hand beneath the jowls of a huge, red-eyed, growling dog; and Microbreak, which simulates ‘all the benefits of a holiday with none of the downsides’ – you even get a hot blast of sun, courtesy of the lamp on top of the telly in front of you. Great fun.

Novelty Automation says
A new London arcade of satirical homemade machines (twinned with 'The Under The Pier Show', Southwold Pier).



Address: 1A
Princeton Street
Transport: Holborn or Chancery Lane tube
Price: Admission free; tokens £1 each
Opening hours: Open Term time 11am-6pm Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat; noon-8pm Thur. School holidays daily; hours vary
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Users say (6)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
1 person listening

Utterly wonderful, it doesn't get more British than is this, witty, subversive and quirky. Worth every penny.

If it hadn't been for the following experience, I would have given this 3 stars for a quirky way to spend 30 minutes in central London, but...

One machine is a frisking machine powered by compressed air. I thought it'd be a funny concept so I gave it a shot. It was funny, right up until the end, when the machine hit me in the crotch with a punch powered by compressed air. This quickly changed the experience from funny (and a bit uncomfortable) to downright painful (and it still hurts, even an hour later). I expressed my disappointment to the guy who was working there (short, black hair, dark glasses), and he smiled and laughed at me. When I asked for my money back, he kept laughing and grumbled a bit, but he eventually gave the pound back.

So while some of the other machines were entertaining and were worth a few minutes of time and a few pounds to "play", I wouldn't go back and will recommend that people avoid giving their money to someone who would laugh at a customer who experienced pain in their shop.

Amazing arcade with a great sense of humor. A collection of inventive ideas and games. It was a great surprise to find. I can't recommend it enough.


One of London's coolest little gems! 

A showcase of old school, random, novelty arcade machines, this place is quirky fun for kids and adults. Machines range from Nobel prize pinball machines and 'Cycle pong,' to slightly creepy inflatable 'friskers,' and the ambiguously named 'Pet or Meat' machine. 

Definitely worth visiting this little slice of arcade nostalgia to keep you entertained for an hour!

What a fantastic place! We've loved Tim Hunkin's 'Under the Pier Show' in Southwold for years, so were thrilled to hear about Novelty Automation. This is every bit as bonkers, and just as much fun! A highly recommended way to spend a couple of hours with children (or adults) of all ages. Good old fashioned entertainment, and worth the price of the tokens just to marvel at the ingenuity of the inventor. Properly eccentric British seaside fun in the centre of Kondon, love it!


This is truly a hidden gem! One of the most novel and amusing places I have been to in London. Tim Hunkin is a machine whizz. He has created the aviary clock at London Zoo, the water clock above Holland and Barrett in Covent Garden and he has an arcade on Southwold Pier as well as this outlet in Holborn. This little gallery is the perfect way to pass an hour. Go with friends - it's money and time well spent and you won't regret it. This is operated on a token system, 1 token = £1 (or less if you buy in bulk) and the machines are creative, inventive and not always what you expect! They are as much fun to watch as they are to play. The units are often swapped in and out so it's worth going back - as I certainly will be. 

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