North West Computer Museum aims to give new life to old consoles

A woman playing a computer game at North West Computer MuseumNWCM

From Pong and Pac-Man to Halo and Half-Life, a new computer museum is celebrating the rich history of gaming – and is ready to help fix people’s broken consoles too.

The North West Computer Museum showcases video game classics from the 1970s to the present day.

It also has a myriad of machines, such as Acorn Electrons, Sinclair ZX80s, Xbox 360s and even a replica Apple-1.

Joseph Kay, who set it up, said it was all about “getting hands-on”.

Old computers collected for North West Computer Museum


Floppy discs


He said as much as he wanted people to enjoy the exhibits, he also wanted anyone with an old or unwanted console to bring it in for a revamp.

“I want to help people understand they often can fix and not just bin broken computers and games consoles,” he said.

“It’s sad seeing we have become such a throwaway society.

“It’s not good for the environment and it’s not good for people’s pockets.”

He said the museum’s staff would be available to anyone wanting to give repairs a go.

“We can help teach people to fix their broken Xbox-360,” he said.

“You don’t have to buy a new one. Bring it to us, swap some parts, and we’ll help you fix it.

“This museum is about people getting hands-on, using and understanding how computers actually work.”

ZX Spectrum games


Sinclair Magnum gun


BBC Micro and BBC Model B games


The crowdfunded museum, which has opened at Leigh Spinners Mill in Greater Manchester, has more than 140 items are on display, all of which have been collected by Mr Kay and refurbished by the 56-year-old and his team of volunteers.

It also features a retro arcade room and an educational suite to teach computer programming and electronical repairs.

Alongside his own collecting, Mr Kay also works with Wigan Council Recycling Centre to obtain electronics which would have otherwise been thrown away.

He said the idea for a permanent site came after the success of a pop-up exhibition he ran for a week in 2018.

“Kids were being dragged in by their parents who wanted to show them old tech they used to use as children,” he said.

“Once the kids got their hands on the technology for themselves, they couldn’t be dragged out.

“That’s when I knew I should do something to encourage that.”

Acorn computer


A Commodore computer


Mr Kay, who has a background in computing, has spent three years securing a permanent site and, after delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, said he was “excited and nervous” to finally be opening the doors.

“The biggest buzz in the world for me would be for a young kid from Leigh to come in and check out an electronics board and then for them to get the bug and go on to develop their own company,” he said.

“Who knows? We might even help inspire the next Steve Jobs.

“That would make me and the team here extremely proud.”

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