Headless lady and witch needed for new magical attraction in North Walsham

PUBLISHED: 07:30 22 March 2013

Magician Roy Davenport at the site of the soon to be Davenport's Magic Kingdom at North Walsham. 

Magician Roy Davenport at the site of the soon to be Davenport's Magic Kingdom at North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

A headless lady and a witch are among some 15 job vacancies being advertised for a major new visitor attraction taking shape in north Norfolk.

The successful applicants’ duties will include springing to life when dead without a head, and re-enacting the tricks of witches in Tudor Norwich.

More than 60 applications poured in within 24 hours of vacancies being announced this week for roles at Davenport’s Magic Kingdom, in North Walsham, which is due to open in the early summer.

Magician Roy Davenport said work was progressing apace on the 15,000sq ft building which will house an exhibition called From Witches to Wonder – a journey through the history of British magic from 1584 to the present day – plus an 83-seat theatre, café and shop.

Visitors will wander through a Hall of Wonder and there will also be a majestic Egyptian Hall, nearly seven metres tall, based on a late 19th century building in London.

The magic kingdom will allow Mr Davenport to display his family’s collection of magical artefacts.

They include a trunk used by legendary escapologist Harry Houdini, a water torture cell as featured in the film Death Defying Acts, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, and a faithful re-creation of the London magic shop run by Mr Davenport’s grandfather Gilly from 1915-1937, with original stock and signs.

Mr Davenport plans to give thrice-daily magic shows in the theatre, to the music of a concert grand piano, which is being converted to play itself. It once belonged to his magician great-grandfather Lewis Davenport and accompanied Lewis through 3,000 performances in London’s former St George’s Hall.

In time he said he hoped to introduce other first-class magicians from Britain and around the world. And he also plans to bring in different sideshows each year, including a girl in a goldfish bowl and a legless lady.

Local suppliers, including Barge Farm fruit and vegetable growers, in Antingham, North Walsham butcher Papworths, and baker Christopher’s, have already signed up to supply the café, and Adnams, and later Woodforde’s, beers will be available.

The £1m venture has been funded through £700,000 invested by members of the Davenport family, a £100,000 grant from the Rural Development Programme for England, and a £200,000 commercial loan.

Contractors have almost finished groundworks and steel cladding the former Crane Fruehauf trailer factory site, on Cromer Road, and Mr Davenport said magic sets would be moved in from the start of May.

The building would be windowless and the interior painted black, allowing all the atmospheric lighting to be controlled from within.

"I want people to step into a completely different world of wonder," said Mr Davenport. "The whole job of an entertainer is to make sure people walk out happier than when they walk in. I want them to be entertained, have fun, and learn about a branch of the arts no-one knows anything about.”

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