Facing meltdown, Britain’s worst waxworks


The Louis Tussauds House of Wax in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, has cult status on the internet because so many of its models look nothing like the people they are supposed to represent.
Thousands of visitors still pay £5 each to visit the seaside attraction so they can mock the far from lifelike models of celebrities, sports stars and Royalty.
Jane Hayes, 82, and her husband Peter, 85, who have run the museum since 1955 fear they will have to close the business if nobody wants to take it over.
Mrs Hayes said: “In June this year my husband was taken seriously ill with pneumonia. We don’t want to retire but when your health starts to decline you have to think. “It will be a shame as we’ve been here 57 years, and it would be nice to make 60, but we’ve no family interested in taking it on.
“It’s softly, softly and we hope we will be able to continue as it’s also our home.” The couple are now seeking planning permission to change the use of the museum from a waxworks to residential use. But Mrs Hayes said they were also seeking a reduction in rates payable to Great Yarmouth Borough Council to make it a more viable business. The museum has more than 150 models, mostly dating back to the 1970s and 1980s websites including an unflattering Prince Charles, a dusky skinned Sean Connery and model Samantha Fox. A model of Prince William has him in a casual sweater with a full head of hair while a model of the Queen looks less than regal. The museum which employs three staff also includes a chamber of horrors and a collection of antique amusement machines.
Many of the models have been widely mocked on the internet, particularly by visitors on the review website TripAdvisor. Some have even admitted travelling more than 120 miles to visit the waxworks so they can laugh at the models. One visitor said: “This is well worth the £5 entry fee as its sooooo bad it’s good. “Some of the waxworks are unrecognisable and thankfully you are helped out with nameplates. The setting of the building is very dark and moody which really adds to the creepiness of the waxworks.” Other visitors said “the smell, the dust, the cobwebs” added to the atmosphere.
Mr Hayes described the museum as ‘unfailingly popular’ in 2008 when he revealed that he was auctioning off 75 heads of models which had been taken off display. But he cancelled the auction after newspaper articles poked fun at the models he was trying to sell for around £80 each. Mr Hayes admitted at the time that some of his models were no longer recognisable.
He said: “Some of them are too old and they do not resemble their subjects any more and obviously some visitors are far too young to remember them.”
In an interview in 2004, Mr Hayes said: “We have never had any complaints and a lot of people give us the thumbs up and say they enjoyed it on the way out.
“Yarmouth needs attractions and exhibitions and we are about the only good exhibition left here.” Mr Hayes insisted that people’s impressions of waxworks were always subjective and someone might consider a figure a good likeness while others might say it was not lifelike.
He added: “Some are very good whereas some are a bit dated – but as they cost £1,000 each they have to have a good life and can’t be replaced every year.” In the resort’s heyday in the 1960s, visitors had to queue to get in and went round the exhibition in lines of up to four abreast, he added.