taking our culture forward

Walter Mills was born on 1st July, 1956 at the family home in Dale Street, Ramsey.

‘The Joke Shop’, an emporium of childish novelties that drew customers from all over the Island, was founded by his parents, Len and Ada Mills in 1949, firstly in Dale Street and later on Ramsey quayside. Over the years, it acquired a peculiarly iconic status which it retained right up to the end.

Invaded each summer by hordes of children on their Sunday School picnics, it also attracted famous visitors such as Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Norman Wisdom and Sir Ken Dodd, who bought a raspberry blower!

Walter, the only son in a family six, forewent prospects of an academic career, leaving school mid-A-levels in 1973, to help his mother run the shop after his father’s death. He took over completely when she died in 1991. In recent years, the shop became known simply as ‘Walter’s’.

When the doors closed in March this year (2018), there was an outpouring of sentiment and reminiscences on social media, with comments such as ‘It’s the end of an era’ and ‘Ramsey won’t be the same without Walter’s’.

In this interview, Walter Mills looks back over his long association with the shop, whose story is inextricably bound up with that of post-war Ramsey with its thriving holiday industry, through the slump years, to today when Ramsey seems once again to be ‘on the up’.


When you click play on one of the interviews below there will be a slight delay as the audio file is downloaded. Large files or slow internet connections will increase the length of this delay.

  • Walter Mills

More Photos