Ronald Walls

Ronald Walls joined the Joyland staff in 1969, working for Sid and Harry Brown. He had previously worked as Senior Engineer at Music Hire in Leeds and he saw the Joyland job advertised in trade paper Coin Slot. The advert said ‘Head Mechanic Wanted for Large Amusement Arcade on the East Coast’. He applied for the job, and travelled from Leeds to Bridlington for an interview. Shortly after the interview, he was offered the job, which would require him to move from Leeds to Bridlington. On the Friday before the Whitsuntide of 1969, he came with a toolbox in one hand and a suitcase in the other to start his new job. He remains in Bridlington to this day.

He left Joyland after only one season, when Sid and Harry Brown wanted to reduce his wages, and started worked for a local firm called Craven Automatics. But he returned again in 1973 after the brothers’ deaths, when Peter and Robert Brown were running Joyland.

“When Sid and Harry passed away, Peter and Robert got someone in from Leeds and they just weren’t happy with him. Peter said, ‘Would you like to come back under a different regime?’ I couldn’t wait to get back.”

Ronald was to become the Chief Mechanic (later renamed Chief Engineer), effectively a replacement for Walter Hoyes, but unlike Hoyes, he was also able to repair modern electronic machines. Amongst the many jobs he undertook at Joyland was installing the new electrical wiring into the former Lounge Cinema, when it was integrated into Joyland.

After the sale of Joyland to the Nobles, Ronald continued to work for Peter and Robert Brown in their separate arcades at each end of the complex. Eventually, relations between Ronald and Robert Brown soured, and he left Joyland for Fun City Amusements at North Shore, working for the Thompson family. Ronald then became self-employed for a period, repairing amusement machines across the East Yorkshire resorts. At one point he worked for a man named Henry Marshall, who had built a new amusement arcade at Skipsea. Ronald wired the arcade from scratch. On that occasion, he also employed the services of former Joyland mechanic Derek Taylor, and the two ex-Joyland men together wired the new arcade.

In 1987, he returned to Joyland to work for its new owners, the Noble family. He had seen a job advertised for ‘Engineer with Electrical Background’ to work in an amusement arcade. “So I applied for it, not knowing it was the Nobles. Of course, as soon as I went in and Jason and John saw me they gave me the job straight away, through John Senior. By that time all the rides had gone, and Joyland was a huge amusement arcade.” He remained at Joyland for a further 18 months.

When he left Joyland, Ronald became an electronics engineer at a string of companies, including Ace Cash Systems, Sara Lee and Ashdale Healthcare, a job he retained at the time of writing.

Click here to buy Pennies by the Sea


Chief engineer Ronnie Walls pictured in 1980, with the Dodgems behind. Photograph: Stephen Smith

Published by:
Skelter Publishing LLP
© 2006

For further information contact:
Skelter Publishing
Tel: 01608 646279