The Kingfisher at Walcott Family Entertainment Centre at Wells Grays arcade at Wells K's Burger Bar at Wells Pac Land cabinet in K's Burger Bar at Wells Wonder Boy in K's Burger Bar at Wells

STAGE 2 - WELLS

After 40 minutes traveling along the coast road we were in Wells. We departed the bus outside the Ark Royal pub (I was starting to fancy a pint but there was no time) and we were greeted by grey grey skies, just waiting to give us a soaking. It was reassuring to find that Wells had many more visitors.

The first arcade was just across from the bus stop and was called 'The Pop Inn'. This place was a little strange as one half of the arcade was in darkness, and of course it was the half that had the arcade cabinets in! I tried to make out what was in there but it was just shadows so we went off to find somebody to ask. The change kiosk was empty and we couldn't find any staff (there was a old chap sitting by the door but I couldn't tell if he was alive, let alone worked for the place). Eventually we found somebody and they got the manager. He didn't seem particular interested in us and admitted to having new machines anyway, with a Sega Manx T.T. (1995) being the oldest. So given his indifference to us and the fact that the machines were in the dark(side) we decided to call it quits. We thanked him for his time and headed across the quay side to the next arcade.

Next up was the 'Family Entertainment Centre' which was located underneath 'The View Restaurant'. In it's day I'm sure it was a haven for classic coin-op's but now it was just reels and coins. We checked it out anyway and at the back (up a few steps) we found a Sega Scud Race (1996) and a Midway Off-Road Challenge (1997). They were a little different but the wrong side of classic for us, so we head off.

The next arcade would have been the large 'Grays' at the end of the quay but sadly the building was involved in a bad fire back in January 2005 and was completely gutted (as were we). The building was still boarded up and a sneaky peak through a gap in boards gave us an idea of just how bad the fire had been. The roof was missing and very little was left of any machines. The only visitors were the pigeons that took refuge from the wind and the rain.

I had read somewhere that the site would be redeveloped with the possibility of putting an arcade back in place but it looks like this may not happen now (if only I had the money). The Gray family had operated an amusements on the site for the past 45 years and had a rare organ at the back of the site, protected by glass. Luckily this survived the fire with minimum damage from smoke and water.

So it was with a heavy heart that we returned along the quay side and stopped in chip shop to get something to eat. After filling up with pie and chips we headed back for the bus as there was only 15 minutes or so before the next bus left. It was starting to rain and after a rather sad visit to Wells we were ready to experience Hunstanton. But little could we know that a passing glance into an inconspicuous burger bar would offer the days biggest surprise!

K's Burger Bar was the place that we found our retro machines. As I happened to glance in the door as we walked past, I noticed two old cabinets right at the back of the restaurant. Any other day we could have walked past and not noticed but my retro-senses must have picked up something. Although they weren't switched on, this was too good to pass-up. To our combined amazement we found that one was a Bally-Midway Pac-Lan (1984) and the other was a generic cabinet with no artwork to give a clue as to the game inside. So with a new found vigour we asked the staff if we could take some photographs of the classic machines. We were directed to the manager, Kay Gelder, who kindly took us back to the machines and switched them on for us (I think she was a little bit wary of two men coming in off the street and getting excited about her old arcade cabinets). The other machine turned out to be Sega's Wonder Boy (1986). We also spied an Taito Operation Wolf (1987) in the corner.

These were all machines that had once been in the Grays arcade and because of family ties, Kay had kept them in the restuarant. It was really kind of her to switch them on for us and allowing us to take some photo's. We were very grateful for Kay to take the time and have a chat with us (to made a change from the often hostile response we get from some places). My only regret was that we had to leave without spending more time (and having a few games on Wonder Boy) but with the clock ticking we had to make a dash for it.

So with just a few minutes before the bus arrived, we reminsced on the lows and highs of our trip to Wells. We had found our first arcade treasure, nice!

 

Original article by Gary - May 2006 (revised June 2014)