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rescuing arcade machines

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Duke of Lancaster Wales

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For these that have drove up the north wales coast as a child and seen the big ship docked next to the market and wounded what it was about.

Its rusting hulk lies off the Welsh coast like an abandoned ghost ship ready for the breakers yard.  But the dream that brought the Duke of Lancaster to its spot at Llanerch-y-Mor in 1979 was a million miles removed from its current sorry state.

The ship was to be a floating leisure and retail complex called The Funship. It was hoped it would become one of the region’s top tourism attractions.

But instead of happy tourists roaming its decks and taking in the seascape, the intervening 37 years have brought mostly stagnation for the ship amid a row between its owner John Rowley and the local authority.

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With plans in place for a hotel conversion (which never materialised), and kitted out with various attractions, including an arcade covering the whole of the car deck, the Fun Ship quickly became a popular tourist attraction, creating jobs and bringing wealth to the local area. But the fun wasn’t to last long. A very complicated and fraught legal fight began with the local council who feared its presence would decimate local businesses. Its use as “The Fun Ship” was relatively short-lived and it was subsequently closed to the public; supposedly because access to the ship is via a bridge under the North Wales railway line, which was too low for emergency vehicles – a technicality disputed by the owners throughout the battle

What this meant was that amongst all its other other inventory, over 50 arcade machines from the golden era were sealed shut inside the ship.

Over time, the derelict ship started to rust, and became largely forgotten about, known only to locals as the beached ship by the coast. No one went there, no one cared. The owners stated they had no plans to sell. It was literally a metal tomb. And so it quietly sat, holding its cargo.

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Fast forward to 2009, and some folks over at the 28dayslater website, an urban exploration community, posted a series of pictures supposedly taken from inside the vessel. For those that don’t know, ‘Urbex’ is a pastime where people gain access to old abandoned buildings and explore, taking pictures along the way. Someone had managed to gain access to the inside of the ship in the middle of the night. Amongst the set of haunting pictures they took was a single tantalising glimpse of the stash of cabs:

A picture of some of these machines surfaced on an urban explorer website and was spotted by arcade machine enthusiasts. Oliver Moazzezi, a member of arcade machine enthusiast forum www.ukvac.com, then began trying to track down the owners.

Oliver said: "I spent eight months trying to contact the owners of the place I could see the games in. I phoned the council, I phoned the Post Office (yeah I really did!) in the town and phoned everywhere, each time getting another clue in the puzzle that would lead me to the owners of this place that had the games in. I finally contacted the owners in January 2011 after going through the said local councils, local shops (you name it) and finally got in contact with a family member.

Met by the owner at the ship, Oliver and two friends were let in and eventually discovered the arcade.

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Oliver was blown away by the discovery. He told The Arcade Blogger: "I couldn’t believe all these games had been here and then one day in 1983 the ship was shut not to be opened again due to legal issues. These games saw year after year of summers and winters through the port holes, the sun rising, the sun setting, FOR THIRTY YEARS.

It took another eight months of going back and forth with the seller to arrange to get the machines off the ship. A price was agreed but then Oliver was given 10 days to remove them or lose them.

 

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So the net result was that one by one, over 50 classic arcade machines were saved, and the team pulled off what is considered the most audacious arcade raid ever carried out here in the UK. These cabs are now in the safe hands of collectors across Europe and are in the process of being repaired and restored. And this is the essence of the hobby – finding, rescuing and restoring these early games.

 

Nice little story

Quotes taken from links down below.

https://arcadeblogger.com/2016/05/06/arcade-raid-the-duke-of-lancaster-ship/

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/explorers-huge-abandoned-ship-welsh-11403118

 

 

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