Dinsdale’s Joke and Trick Shop, Hull

A peek into the best, brightest and most exciting indie shops on the network.

Dinsdale’s Joke and Trick Shop has been going for 80 years in the centre of Hull and, as manager Graham Williams tells us, they’ve still got a trick or two up their sleeve…


80 years? How does that happen?

It used to be run by Grandad Dinsdale and it was a record shop. In the late 1920s radio came in and he thought: “Who’s going to want records when people can listen to music for free on the radio?” So he started selling tricks and jokes that were starting to become popular at the time.


So what’s the gist of the place?

Basically it’s a joke and magic shop. But as we’ve gone on over the years we’ve started to sell fancy dress, make-up and theatrical equipment like props. Most places are fancy dress with a few little jokes, while we’re a joke and magic shop that sells fancy dress as well.


Why do you think people are still interested these days?

I think they like the traditional nature of the shop. I get loads of people telling me that they used to come in as a young boy. The internet is impersonal – here it’s all a bit olde worlde. I’m a bit eccentric, my family are all nuts, we’re always messing about and playing jokes – people really like that.


And what sort of people come through the door?

There’s no specific customer. We get lots of lawyers and solicitors, because we’re in the legal area of Hull. But students are probably our biggest customers, they have events every Wednesday so they’re always dressing up as something.


Any famous faces?

Oh yes. Tommy Cooper used to come in, as did Norman Collier. And not many people know this, but the joke shop that features in The League of Gentlemen is based on this shop. Reece Shearsmith is a local lad and has often visited the shop.


Best buys

Graham shows us three of the best sellers from his Joke and Trick Shop…


Pop-out eye glasses

Trick your pals and scare your Nan with these hilarious boggly eyes!


Horse head mask

Wear it to a party, or leave it in your mum’s bed to give her a proper fright!


Gigantic playing cards

Show your friends that you’ve got the biggest game in town with these super-sized playing cards.


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