Dennis Tate

Joyland mechanic Dennis Tate came out of the services in 1947, and joined the staff of Joyland in the early summer of 1948. As a teenager, he had enjoyed the Joyland fairground, opened by Charlotte Brown on the site of the old Knaggs Yard. But on one visit to Joyland, he had found out something quite surprising about his future.

In the late 1930s, there was a gypsy fortune teller in the corner of Little Joyland. Dennis Tate had crossed her palm with silver, and he was told that he was going to be a mechanic and that it would be at Joyland. He fairly quickly became a motor mechanic and went into the service. After leaving the forces, he spent two months in 1948 as a motor mechanic and then started at Joyland.

He spent a year and a half at the arcade, working under Sid Brown and then moved to Pleasureland, where he worked under the auspices of Harry Brown. Eventually, Dennis became the most senior mechanic in Pleasureland, effectively acting as Manager.

In all, Dennis Tate remained with the Browns for six years, leaving in 1954. After leaving Joyland, he would never venture into the place again. But it had given him a great background to mechanics. From Joyland, he went into National Cash Registers as a service mechanic, repairing banking machines, cash registers, adding machines, hotel machines, but all the time using the skills he had learnt at Joyland. In the 1970s, Dennis Tate spent most of his time working on decimal conversions, mirroring the work being undertaken at the time on the Joyland machines. During decimalisation, Dennis had so many machines in his house, he had to put planks on them to move from room to room. He stayed with National Cash Registers for over 20 years, before joining a private company in Hull. He was only to stay with this company for six years, before being made redundant for apparently “not able to keep up with modern trends”.

But he still looks back on his time at Joyland with fondness, revealing that he learnt as much about people from his time at the arcade as he did about the workings of machines, and that prepared him for the challenges of his life. The tricks of the amusement trade of the 1940s and 1950s are something he treasures to this day.

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Dennis Tate worked at Joyland and Pleasureland between 1948 and 1954. Photograph: Dennis Tate

Published by:
Skelter Publishing LLP
© 2006

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