Is this the biggest collection of retro arcade games anywhere in the world? Thriving Bury business has Pac-Man …

COMPUTER game lovers are reliving their childhood memories thanks to a thriving business in Bury.

There was a time in the 1980s when every town and city had a place with arcade games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders, but the trend died out with the arrival of home consoles.

Now, retro-games lover Andy Palmer has taken fellow fans on a trip down memory lane by opening the Arcade Club on the third floor of Ela Mill, in Cork Street, Bury.

Over the years, the 44 year old and his family have built up a huge collection of classic games machines, as well as pinball machines and more modern-day home-games consoles.

Each weekend, the collection goes on display, with guests playing a flat fee for unlimited gameplay.

“What singles us out is the variety and authenticity,” said Mr Palmer. “These are all original machines with their original parts and nowhere else has as big of a collection.

He added: “We have had visitors from America and the Continent. One guy even flew from Ireland on his private jet especially.”

Mr Palmer said the Arcade Club has tapped into the nostalgia market of computer games lovers who remember visiting arcades, such as Cosmos Café opposite Bury Bus Station, as children.

“They remember the ‘insert coin to continue’ instruction and many would have ran out of money before they could complete the game. Now they can finally do it.”

Many gamers have a ‘bucket list’ of games to complete, said Mr Palmer, whether it be the Simpsons game or the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles machine, or Tron.

He said: “We can get up to 500 people here over Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.

“We have a bottle bar and Friday nights is over 18s only. The rest of the weekend has a family feel. It’s always packed and then we give the machines some tender loving care in the week, ready for the following weekend.”

Games fan Mark Harrison, of Bolton, said: “It’s a fantastic collection of some brilliant old games.

“The people behind the place who put all the hard work in to making these fabulous old machines work perfectly should be applauded.”

Another regular visitor, Phil Purnell, added: “For someone who grew up where such machines were few and far between – as we the coins to put in them – to find a place where they were too numerous to reckon with, and they’re all switched to free place, was a bit overwhelming.”

The Arcade Club arrived in Mr Palmer’s native Bury in November after a successful year-long trial at less suitable premises in Haslingden.

Mr Palmer said: “The space at Ela Mill is ideal and we were so glad to move here.

“It’s proving to be a really worthwhile family business and the feedback that customers give us is great.

“I used to love playing these games as a kid but never dreamed that one day I would own one, let alone so many.

“I think people like the social atmosphere. Games have come full circle, from arcade games in the 1980s, to home consoles, and the social side of gaming has come back, with people swapping tips on how to do well at games like Track and Field.

“The gamers who remember the machines first time round are bringing their own kids to the club, which is nice to see.”

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