Photo gallery: Great Yarmouth automaton has ‘more moving parts than a Boeing 747’

Great Yarmouth seaside landmark automata made by automata toymaker Ron Fuller.On display at the Time

Great Yarmouth seaside landmark automata made by automata toymaker Ron Fuller.On display at the Time and Tide Museum.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Bawdy, buxom Britannia swivels her hips and spins while a fishwife rides the snails and a Greek orthodox priest swings his incense.

Meanwhile two clowns tumble a ball while a Spitfire circles a colourful revolving tower, Nelson walks the plank, and a cheeky seagull swipes a tasty treat.

Bursting with saucy seaside fun they are all scenes that tip their mechanical hat towards Great Yarmouth's history, and humorous holiday heyday.

The captivating automaton is the latest addition to Great Yarmouth's Time and Tide Museum and will form the quirky centrepiece of a re-displayed seaside gallery.

For 20p visitors can enjoy around ninety seconds of mechanical wizardry created by Suffolk-based toy maker Ron Fuller with a liberal dollop of seaside sauce.

The exhibit was commissioned by the museum in response to visitor feedback about having more interactive items, and was being put through its paces this week.

Curator Johanna O'Donoghue said: 'I wanted the wow factor. As a museum professional I want to be amazed so that I know visitors will be too, and it is something they will really remember.

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'Ron came and looked at the museum and took snippets of history he wanted to include.

'He went away and created drawings and did the whole thing in a few months.

'We borrowed one of his automata for the circus display about three years ago and it was a raving hit so we have commissioned this as the centrepiece of the new gallery.

'It is a celebration of Yarmouth from Lord Nelson to the fun aspects like the snails.

'In some ways its quite tricky for us as it will be an on-going maintenance challenge. But keeping the museum alive is very important especially if we want to engage a younger au-dience and this exhibit is really cool and fun.

'It has a real seaside feel and he has created something that will not date.

'Ron only creates things that are very special.'

Mr Fuller, 77, of Laxfield, said he had great fun making the exhibit which had 'as many working pieces as a Boeing 747.'

It took him 500 meticulous hours over 11 weeks to complete and is expected to pay for itself in around 18 months.

Every detail is rooted in reality with tattoo studios and seafront toilets featuring alongside circus high-jinks, and a figure representing the growing Portuguese community and waving to the crowd.

The exhibit also features two of Great Yarmouth's unique attractions the revolving tower and the Hotchkiss Railway, both now gone.

The tower was removed for the war effort and the metal used to build Spitfires hence the inclusion of a fighter plane flying overhead. The Hotchkiss railway – a bizarre commuter track for cyclists – was sold to Blackpool.

A noticeboard announces a performance by the escapologist Alan Alan known as the 'best burning rope act in the business'.

Britannia and Nelson are also included; Britannia gyrates and Nelson tries (but fails) to knock off the pirate's hat. An excitable dog and tethered seagull follow Britannia's motions.

Miss O'Donoghue said the automaton would chime well with the new 1950s-themed seaside display which will include fashion's of the day.

A replica bathing hut is also being constructed, harking back to the earliest seaside holidays and reflecting the enduring appeal of the seaside for successive generations.

The changes are part of a rolling re-display demanded by the items themselves some of which have to take their turn in store to prevent light damage, and by the needs of regular visitors who want to see something new.

Mr Fuller was born in 1937 and went to art schools in Plymouth and Falmouth before studying art and theatre design at the Royal College of Art.

After a career in teaching he began making wooden toys for a living in 1972.

His work is highly sought after and has been exhibited and sold in specialist shops all over the world.

Despite his wide experience Mr Fuller still describes himself as a village toymaker.