Tucked away in a quiet corner not far from the British Museum is one of London’s little-known gems: the Novelty Automation Museum, filled with handmade games and machines of all shapes and sizes.

Opened only five years ago by Tim Hunkin, an engineer, cartoonist, writer and artist, the Novelty Automation Museum is a great way to spend time with family or friends. This unusual attraction in London is twinned with the Under the Pier Show in Southwold. In fact, it was only created because he ran out of space there but wanted to continue doing what he loved and making machines.

It adds a particular joy to the outing to know that all of the machines are handmade, knowing that each one has been individually crafted, some out of very small pieces, by someone who loves what they do. The oldest machine is called ‘Chiropodist’, with new ones being added very often. There were many new additions the second time I visited and it was fun to explore the new machines as well as revisiting the old favourites.

Many of the machines are making jokes at the expense of everything from politicians to celebrities, fostering more of a connection with the customers through interactive games. There is definitely a playful retro feel to the place and a great atmosphere, despite the fact that there are rarely very many other people there (so it’s usually relatively quiet).

There is a range of different activities, some with prizes such as ‘one billion dollars’, a ‘Nobel Prize’, or ‘nuclear waste’. Most visitors seem to particularly enjoy competitive games. A particular favourite of many customers is a game called Money Laundering, a joke at the expense of the government and financial regulators, where the user has to use a magnet to pick up extra funds and drop them in the dish without the financial regulators spotting them. Another popular game is Test Your Nerve, where you have to push a button under the mouth of a panting, drooling dog figure and see how long you will last. This is said to go down so well because people enjoy scaring themselves.

This is a short day out which is definitely worth the cost of only £25 for 33 tokens, enough to use all 20 of the machines. People visit with family, friends and significant others, some even come on their own, leaving very pleased reviews in the visitor’s book, no matter their age. I would strongly recommend visiting the Novelty Automation Museum for anyone looking for a day out that’s a little quirky and unusual. Bring friends because it’s so much more fun with others!