Paul Daniels at opening of Davenport's Magic Kingdom in North Walsham
PUBLISHED: 16:51 06 July 2013 | UPDATED: 08:37 07 July 2013
Magician Paul Daniels was one of the star attractions at the unveiling of a unique tourist attraction for Norfolk.
The television performer and his wife Debbie McGee were at the official opening of Davenport’s Magic Kingdom on Cromer Road, North Walsham, today.
Roy Davenport, 40, from White Horse Common, North Walsham, who is the driving force behind the attraction said it was a family dream which had come to fruition.
The 15,000 sq ft warehouse cost over £1m to create and includes hundreds of magical artefacts from the Davenport family which has been involved in magic for over 100 years. It also features an 80-seat theatre, sideshows and Yvette the real-life headless woman.
Mr Daniels, who has known the family for several years, said: “There really isn’t anything like this [Davenport’s Magic Kingdom] in the world. David Copperfield has a vast collection but it is hidden away. This exhibition is a wonderful mixture telling you about the world of magic.”
The magician, who has donated a few pieces to the museum of items old and new, started shopping in the Davenport’s magic shop in Charing Cross, London, when he was a boy and continues to do so.
He added Mr Davenport, managing director of the attraction, performed one of the most “startlingly professional acts on the magical scene”.
Mr Daniels said to the crowd, which include town and district councillors as well as North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, that he wanted to live in Norfolk.
The Davenport family first became involved in magic in 1898 when Mr Davenport’s great-grandfather Lewis started trading in magical goods aged 16 while performing as a stage magician at prestigious venues.
A shop was originally opened in the east end of London before it moved to Charing Cross.
Mr Davenport’s mother, Betty, took over the business in 1962 and it is now the world’s oldest family-run magic business.
The idea for the magic kingdom started in 1980 by Mrs Davenport’s husband, Fergus Roy, but after he became unwell his son took up the challenge in 2002.
Mr Davenport said: “Having moved to Norfolk 13 years ago I said North Walsham was at the centre of the whole tourist area and it dawned on me this was the place to open a visitor attraction. We will be bringing in more and more items on a weekly basis.”
His mother, now aged 80 from London, revealed the ceremonial plaque and said it was a “very emotional day”.
Mr Lamb said: “It is incredible what has been created in this building. I have got enormous admiration for Roy. To pull this off is almost a feat of magic in itself. It has got the potential to be a very big tourist attraction for Norfolk and this part of north east Norfolk. It is fantastic for North Walsham.”
The project was mainly funded by the Davenport family but some grants were used.
For more information visit www.davenportsmagickingdom.co.uk