Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Steampunk Weekend at Hereford Waterworks Museum

The last time I wore a crinoline, I was cosplaying Billie, a Victorian badger from Bryan Talbot's Grandville series of graphic novels, which was great fun, and Bryan Talbot himself took a photo of me and my Young Man, who was portraying the hero of the novels, Inspector LeBrock, who is romantically involved with Billie.
So that was wonderful - but I hadn't mastered the art of sitting down in a crinoline, and had terrible trouble with the hoops of the underskirt going up in the air whenever I tried to sit down.

This time, I've cracked it! The trick is to pull up the hoops at the back of the skirt as you sit down, and the hoops will stay decorously down at the front.
I needed to know this before I got on the 39 bus, on the way to Hereford on Saturday. However, it would have been difficult for anyone to sit next to me on the bus, as I took up rather a lot of room sideways!

I'd never been to the Waterworks Museum before, but I knew roughly where it was - there's a brown sign next to a church, on the ring road, and if you look into town from there, you can see the cathedral.
And Broomy Hill is a fascinating area to walk through - full of big Victorian houses, with big gardens, and in-filled with more modern, smaller houses and bungalows. There was a shower of rain, but fortunately my costume included an umbrella!
The Museum leaflet says there's a path along the banks of the river - I may try that next time I go (not while wearing a crinoline, though!). They also have a website at www.waterworksmuseum.org.uk

Here's one of the earliest forms of water power - an overshot wheel. In the buildings were many more, and most of them were working. There was that distinctive tang of oil and coal in the air.

And outside the main building there were stalls, selling Steampunk clothing, replica weapons, mirrors, candle holders, jewellery.... Up at the end of the line was a camper van, ordinary on the outside, but transformed on the inside with all sorts of gadgets made by the owner, with gauges, and bubbling red liquid, and dragons' heads in brass, and copper pipes....it looked fantastic, and he was showing it off for donations to the Macmillan Fund.
Next to that was the coffee stall. They also had a few bits and pieces for sale, and I couldn't resist the door wedge marked "HODOR" (Game of Thrones fans will get the reference). Poor Hodor. I got talking to the lady at the coffee stall, who said that they were trying to think of ways to make their coffee cart look more Steampunk. I suggested they look out for the Girl Genius graphic novels. In one of them, the Girl Genius has her first cup of coffee (she has always been forbidden coffee before because of the effect it will have on her). In a fit of manic, coffee-fuelled frenzy, she transforms the coffee making machine with her Mad Science skills - and the visuals that go with that should give the coffee cart people lots of good ideas.
Food was also on offer, with a barbequed meat stall (I didn't get round to eating anything there) and music was provided by Caroline the Musical Saw Lady.

She did a brilliant version of the Doctor Who theme (she had a backing track to play with) and also Wuthering Heights!

Inside were more stalls - jewellery, vintage clothing, chocolate (I succumbed to a chocolate Dalek and Tardis - they also did a Millenium Falcon and R2D2), mead - I can highly recommend the Trolls Bottom Heather Honey mead, which is light and fragrant, and dances on the tongue. They also do things like banana rum and coffee vodka, and have a website at www.trollsbottom.com
I bought a lovely pair of high heeled ankle boots from one vintage stall (I almost never wear heels, but these were just perfect for costume purposes). She asked where I got the leather school satchel I was using to carry things around, and I told her about Bain and Murrin's in Hay. Most people were wearing costume - a splendid array of top hats, fancy waistcoats, ruffled skirts and, of course, goggles. Also, tricorn hats - Pirate Steampunk is also a thing.

For the Coglings (young Steampunks) there was a play park with lots of water themed things to do, and round the back of the museum is a miniature railway with a proper station platform (not open during the weekend).

In the evening they had live music. There was also an escapologist who turned up on a bicycle with a large box on the front, for storage - and it was also his stage! And I saw one chap carrying fire clubs around with him.

The Museum is open every Tuesday from 11am to 4pm, all year round, with special events throughout the year, so I'll certainly be back to see the engines again, and there will be another Steampunk Weekend next year, on 28/29th April, so I'm looking forward to that!

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