Canterbury Christ Church University

Arcade Britannia

This is a celebration of British amusement arcades and their central roles in seaside communities. For over a hundred years, these spaces have delighted and scandalised their visitors, and emerged as important regional economic, social, and cultural hubs. Dr Alan Meades has been meticulously documenting the histories of British arcades, the political and technological contexts that make them distinct from arcade cultures in other countries, and their connections with longstanding traditions of public play and entertainment. This research culminated in the publication of Arcade Britannia, published by MIT Press in 2022.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a digital recreation of two 1980s British arcades, Manhattan Amusements, and Pier Arcade – both located in Herne Bay, Kent, that Meades created with the assistance of staff and students from the Games Design course. The digital arcade can be freely explored and includes audio narration speaking about the machines, the events, and the broader cultural importance of the arcade. The digital arcades have been carefully recreated using Unreal Engine 5, making use of Meades’ extensive collection of archive materials, including period photographs, trade publications, and interviews with arcade owners. The digital arcades are housed in a period arcade machine, an Electrocoin Xenon, as would have been seen in almost every British seaside arcade of the time.  

The exhibition will also include 360 VR video of the arcades, allowing visitors to engage with the experience without using the Electrocoin Xenon cabinet. A comic book of collected stories of people who worked and played at these spaces has been created by staff at CCCU including Will Hill (script) and Jon Schwochert (artist) specifically for Eureka. 

This project is a continuation of Canterbury Christ Church University’s coastal communities research and included alongside the arcade are photographs by Rob Ball who has developed a significant body of work documenting seaside amusement arcades in the UK and North America.

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Image: Rob Ball

Image: Rob Ball

Image: Rob Ball

Image: Rob Ball


For over 60 years Canterbury Christ Church University has been a major contributor to regional skills and innovation in Kent and Medway. It has a strong track record in education, research and graduate skills for the regional economy, supporting growth in Creative Arts and Industries, science, teaching and healthcare. The University ranked third in the UK for graduates in employment. 


Lead Researcher:

Dr Alan Meades


Dr Katie McGown


Rob Ball


Dr Alan Meades

Jon Schwochert

Will Hill


Dr Alan Meades

Mike Farrant

Mihails Mozajevs

Ben Chittenden

Sam Page

Zach Weitz

Ryan Horney

Will Henniker

Beatscribe (music)

General Project:

Helen Wright

Mike Farrant

Thanks to:

David Cain

Rosanne Cain

Scott Turner

George Wilson