After operating as one of London’s most iconic arcades for the last quarter century, Namco Funscape has permanently closed its doors – doomed not by the pandemic, but by the planned redevelopment of the County Hall site it occupies.
Namco Funscape in London permanently closed at 6:30pm on 12 August after 25 years in operation.
A notice on the venue’s door announcing its closure spread on social media the same day, provoking an emotional response from longstanding patrons of the company’s flagship arcade. While there had been reports that the operator was expected to vacate the London County Hall location due to redevelopment in the site that it occupies, there was no other announcement of a closing date. Reports followed, however, that the operator had come to the end of its lease on the site, resulting in its shut down.
The notice on the venue’s door read: “NAMCO Funscape County Hall, London has closed.
“After 25 years, London’s leading family and corporate entertainment venue, within the iconic County Hall building has closed.
“We’re heartbroken to have closed our landmark site that has been entertaining families, friends, and corporate groups from all over the world for 25 years.”
Situated in County Hall on the Southbank, close to the London Eye, Namco Funscape had been a popular arcade destination from the mid-1990s. The operator still has six more Funscape arcades located elsewhere in England, with branches in Braintree, Manchester, Gateshead, Norwich, Romford and Tamworth. However, the London County Hall venue was its flagship establishment, with three floors of amusements including a bowling alley and a Virtual Reality centre with one of the few Mario Kart VR set-ups in the UK.
It is not yet known if Bandai Namco will start looking for a new venue for a flagship Funscape venue, but its arcade rival Sega is reportedly planning to bring its Joypolis indoor amusement parks to British soil. A financial report published earlier this year by CA Joypolis owners, the China Animation Cultural Technology Group, stated plans to open venues in more regions, revealing that potential UK locations are already being researched.