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Silica Shop (UK)

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Ha ha...That's how I felt like with Maplin, all the wonderful machines, total access to all the software certain other perks..


I have to say that Silica was much better, because we were also component sales I was dragged away from the Atari side all the time, Silica would have been pure joy to be in for me.

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9 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

Ha ha...That's how I felt like with Maplin, all the wonderful machines, total access to all the software certain other perks..


I have to say that Silica was much better, because we were also component sales I was dragged away from the Atari side all the time, Silica would have been pure joy to be in for me.

It was a dream job Paul.  When I saw the job advert for it in our local newspaper I ran all the way home to call the number for an interview.  We had a good bunch of guys, a few of whom I went on to work at Escom with.  But that's another story!

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I'm glad you had a good time and growing up with the hobby you love AND getting well paid for it is the mutts nuts..

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Does anyone know who were the people behind the shop (ie: the owners of the original Sidcup branch) before it expanded into a large chain?  I wonder if they are still around nowadays as it would be good to hear from them.

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A Google search of Silica Shop has brought me here and so I decided to drag down my old mail shots and membership club books I received around 1983/4 and 1985 when I was 13, 14 and 15 years old.

All the materials were still in the original envelopes and in great condition except for the some creases. 


I've really enjoyed looking back at them and have decided to put them into proper folders so I can have a look any time and have a read. 


Here's a selection.


Thank you.








I wanted one of these so bad but could never afford one. It flopped so maybe just as well.












Inside the Atari catalogue is this great photo.












Anika Rice in this shot.




Best joysticks at the time if not all time. I still have the Tac 2.




Where is Alan Scholes of Accrington now?






Edited by Gigapig
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Hello Silica Shop,


I would like to order the following things from your online catalog, as seen at Atari Age: ...    ;-)



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On 3/13/2018 at 10:06 AM, Mclaneinc said:

Sorry folks, the best Silica Shop was its original shop in Sidcup Kent, for an Atarian it was a piece of heaven..


And for trivia, Silica has more ties to Atari, Noel Daniel who was one of the programmers of Sidewinder and the sole programmer of Thunderfox worked in the Tottenham Court road branch, really nice guy and a good friend back then. Also in the same shop was Eroll Elliston who co-wrote Foundations Waste on the ST. But on the dubious side was a guy nicknamed Splatt (I could be mixing the name up with another BBS guy) who ran a pirate BBS selling access to Amiga software.


Yep, all true...


Sadly Silica in Tottenham Court Road went bust and pulled the firm down because some staff later on were selling stock out the back door to order when it was already struggling with the huge number of other computer sellers in the same road.

Wow! I dont believe it I just Googled SDL Sidcup Kent just to see if I would get anything and this came up Great! I live in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset and I remember driving all the way up (or across) to Sidcup in my old little Original Mini must be sometime between 1981-1985 as I had a Mattel intellivision console back then and heard about this fantastic Atari 800 that used ROM cartridges and this shop called SDL, how I knew I wish I could remember as back then there was no internet well no WWW so must of been word of month or a magazine to hear that down in our neck of the woods, so I drove up must of been a Saturday and I dont know how I find it?, easy too with no satnav then either!, (must of used a map LOL or read signposts,  what is frustrating is... how I cant remember who I took with me (not the wife I know that much). The Shop was very busy and on the shelf was this beast of a machine playing a Football game with solid players 2D,  I was sold straight away, I had took my intellision up with me as they even did trade in (again how did I know that?) I cant remember the Price but I knew it was a lot of money, I think my wife paid £130 ish for the intellivision for a previous Birthday present, Im thinking £300 ish for the Atari which was a lot of money back then more like £500 or £600 or more now. I really enjoy those days... exciting as it wasn't as easy as it is today, more fun having to wait and work for the new tec stuff,  not like now just downloading it in seconds, more fun in a funny kind of way. Wow I CAN NOT BELIEVE I HAVE JUST TYPED ALL THIS SORRY, i must of wanted to desperately share this, lets hope someone reads it. Cheers who ever you might be 🙂                     

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On 4/27/2020 at 9:30 AM, Jetboot Jack said:

SDL (Silica's distribution company) was one of my main suppliers when I ran Computer Cavern in Reading.


The store started out as ORDEM and were Atari only for the first couple of years (up until 87)...



Happy days Steve....

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I have great memories of getting Silica Shop catalogues through the post (sadly I didn't hang on to any). I had a Saturday job at Laskys 42 Tottenham Court Road in 1989/90 and used to call into Silica Shop (which was just a few doors up) most weeks.

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I just loved going to Hatherly Mews, not so easy once I joined Maplin because the best day to go to Silica was a saturday and I worked most of those. As for when Laskeys was there, that would have been the original Silica shop and not the site inside the big shop (Debenhams or such like). The stories I could tell of the original shop, mind you both had a fair share of interesting things and lots of skullduggery..

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On 12/11/2020 at 4:39 PM, Mclaneinc said:

Computer Cavern, I used to go up to there to get bits for a mate..Small old world..

My shop from late 80's to early 90's...



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I found an old UK magazine called 'Electronic Toys & Games Review' which I bought in the 1980s.  I can't find the date in the magazine but it must be around 1981-83.


It has a two page article on Silica Shop which some of you might find interesting.  I scanned the magazine cover, the reverse of the cover which had a Silica Shop advert, the magazine intro page, the 2-page article on Silica, and the magazine back page.  Once I get my proper scanner setup I will scan the whole magazine.









The PDF:




Edited by SectorWars
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Here's the text extracted for easier reading:





The Silica Shop is the Mecca for 
South London electronic gamers — 
it is also one of the best known and 
respected mail order houses in the 


The shop nestles surprisingly in 
an old mews just a short missile 
blast away from Sidcup High Street. 
Stepping inside the overall effect is 
like entering a 21st century version 
of Aladdin’s cave: the walls are lined 
with glittering game displays of 
every type and they resound with 
the familiar crashes of invaders 
biting the dust and that immortally 
demented Atari music. 


Those insistent bleeping tones 
are the sweet song of success for 
Tony Deane and Mike West the 
directors of this fast-growing and 
highly successful business. Tony 
explained how they got started. 
“Right from the beginning we had 
the intention of specialising in 
leisure electronics. We began by 
selling cheap semi-programmables 
for £30 to £40. We found plenty of 
buyers for them, around Christmas 
1978 and then we expanded into 
selling the fully-programmable 
types, starting off with Atari. 


“Atari is the most popular TV 
game on the market at the moment 
— it outsells everything else by 
about ten-to-one and we are becoming 
known throughout the London 
area as THE Atari specialist. There’s 
nothing that fits the Atari that we 
don’t have in stock. It’s part of our 
philosophy. We figure if you’re 
going to do something, then do it 
well and thoroughly and, well, if 
you buy a Ford car then you 
expect the same place to be able to 
sell you spares for the thing. That’s 
how Atari should be sold. 


“The problem with buying a 
machine through a big store is that 
most of them are interested in 
selling you one for around £99 and 
making a quick killing. They 
couldn’t care less about supporting 
the thing. We CAN care and that’s 
how we make our money. 


“We try to provide a service. For 
example, by the end of this year 
there will be around forty chess 
computers in the market and we’ll 

stock every one of them. Poor old 
Joe Public doesn’t stand a chance — 
he can only look at that range and 
think ‘Which one...?’ He can’t 
go to the manufacturers in the 
States: the importers are very 
cagey about giving out information, 
so he comes to us. What we do is 
reprint reviews from magazines, 
copies of instructions booklets, 
anything that’ll give him the 
information he wants and send it out. 
It costs us an enormous amount in 
postage and printing but we hope 
that if Joe buys, then he’ll do it 
from us.” 


From what we saw in the shop, 
on an ordinary weekday morning, 
Joe Public is certainly visiting Silica 
Shop in pretty large numbers — it 
would probably be difficult to get 
in the doors on a weekend! And it’s 
not just Atari that he’s coming to 
buy and see — Tony and his 
colleagues have widened their range 
enormously, now you can get 
virtually any TV game in the shop, 
plus all the cartridges and other 


Now that chess computers are 
becoming more popular you can see 
the whole range of those as well. 
But perhaps the most important 
newcomer, at least from Tony’s 
point of view is the personal 
computer. When we interviewed him, 
the shop had just had its first delivery 
of the Atari 4/800 sets. Tony 
was very pleased with the reception 
they’d received AND the way Atari 
had handled the whole thing. 


“Now that Atari have come on 
to the market, home computers are 
the fastest mover we’ve got. The 
way they approached it was to say, 
‘We’ve got a good name, and a good 
image. Everyone knows the TV 
game, so let’s build on that image 
and bring out a home computer’. 
The biggest problem with all the 
home computers so far was that the 
manufacturers rushed on to the 
market and the problem for the 
buyer has been that the basic 
machine has been available, but the 
software and other hardware has 


“Now Atari took a much more 
cautious approach and decided not 
to launch until absolutely everything 
was ready. We received our 
first delivery of the computers only 
two weeks ago and we got everything 
— main units, programmes, 
disc drives, back-up spares, manuals 
— everything is there.” 


And now that Tony does have 
everything in stock, you can be sure 
that he’ll be doing everything 
possible to shift it out to you — Joe 
Public — along with the standard 
TV games, hand helds, chess 
computers and 1001 other products 
that he keeps in his Aladdin’s cave. 


As we said earlier Tony was 
suitably pleased with the efficient way 
Atari have handled the computer’s 
launch — it has been efficient and if 
something is to make money then, 
in Tony’s book, efficiency is 
indispensable. The Silica Shop runs with 
stunning efficiency and we’d bet 
that it makes a stunning amount of 
money — but the thing to remember 
about the whole organisation, 
whether it be the shop or the mail 
order side, is that it makes that 
money by giving a fair and honest 
service to you — Joe Public. If you 
are in the area and want to sample 
the latest on the electronic game 
market, stick your head round the 
door, you are welcome to try 
anything they have in stock. If you’re 
too far away to get there, drop 
them a line for their selection of 
literature. The address is: 


Silica Shop 
1-4 The Mews 
Hatherley Road 
Sidcup, Kent 
DA14 4DX. 



Shop manageress Mary Nelson displays a Chess game outside the shop. 


A great Saturday morning 
haven for the youngsters. 


Another staffer (there are around 20 in 
all), Bob Katz this time, introduces 
our compiler to the delights of the 
Atari computer system — and the Star 
Raiders game in particular! 


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   Here's a Silica Shop Catalogue from 20th August, 1982, which appears to be the earliest one posted so far. 



1982 08 20 Silica Shop Catalogue-1.jpg

1982 08 20 Silica Shop Catalogue-2.jpg

1982 08 20 Silica Shop Catalogue-3.jpg

1982 08 20 Silica Shop Catalogue-4.jpg

1982 08 20 Silica Shop Catalogue-5.jpg

1982 08 20 Silica Shop Catalogue-6.jpg

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Just look at the Falcon prices and that's with £400 off  a small fortune back then 

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What a wonderful trip down memory lane. I helped a friend get a job in their Manchester shop by educating him on everything they sold....

Particularly enjoyed the newspaper article post by @SectorWars

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It's great seeing more posts of the old Silica flyers.


It would be nice to get as many as possible into pdf format and host them somewhere for everyone to enjoy.

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My first full time job was with Silica in 1990, I was 16 and I started out stuffing envelopes with that literature and sending it out. Brilliant to see it again thank you! 
I moved to Silica Shop TCR and worked in the office upstairs. It was a lovely shop and the lads were a great bunch! 

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