NAVAL chuckling will once again ring out around one of Southsea’s best known attractions this summer.
But it won’t be coming from a flesh and blood matelot – it will be the return of the famous Laughing Sailor, a feature of many people’s yesteryear memories of the seafront.
The laughing sailor made his first appearance at Clarence Pier in 1961 and now a new model is centre stage.
Clarence Pier director Jimmy Norman said: ‘It is great for it to return as it is a novelty item and it makes people laugh.’
Jimmy decided to buy the new Laughing Sailor after finding it on a Facebook site specialising in amusements.
‘My wife Jill thought it was an excellent idea to buy a new Laughing Sailor when I mentioned it to her as it is a tradition at the pier,’ he said. ‘I decided to bid for it and was successful and here it is.’
A plaque on the amusement reads that the sailor was built by Mr Dennis Terry of Leigh-on-Sea in 2010.
‘It is not a brand new one but it doesn’t matter as this is more for the novelty factor,’ said Jimmy.
The previous laughing sailor was built in the 1940s and after many years of service was put into storage.
‘It was pretty old and had to be taken out as it kept on having to be repaired,’ added Jimmy
Older visitors will remember when the attraction was in its heyday when it cost an intrigued audience a penny to watch him chuckle. The new arrival costs 20p.
‘We used to get older people coming in and asking what happened to it but so far this new one is doing what I hoped,’ said Jimmy. ‘It is creating a little bit of interest and laughter.’
And he hopes the mechanical mirth-maker will give something for all generations to be entertained by. Jimmy said: ‘It’s important to have something that grandmas and grandpas can enjoy as well as grandchildren.
‘It is for the whole family. If it gets people to stop and then come into the attractions then that’s great but even if it just makes them smile and laugh then it’s a good thing.’
The real test for the slot machine will be during the Easter holidays.
Jimmy said: ‘It is perfect timing that is has been delivered now as I’m sure it will attract people.’