I’ve been in touch with the event organisers of the Apothecarium in Barnsley for some time, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually managed to get there. Located in the modernist Civic Cultural Centre near the attractive arcade which is full of boutique shops and Victorian Tea Rooms and for photo opportunities, you can go to see the gorgeous Town Hall.
Entering the Civic, you could easily assume that there’s no steampunk event here simply because it’s not an old building. Let’s face it, steampunks aren’t happy unless they’re surrounded by a century of history. The Civic is clean and modern with bright white walls and a lift that makes you think you’re not moving until the doors open up on another floor.
There were around 20 or so market stalls all selling various items such as steampunk, gothic, alternative and superhero themed items. I spoke to a number of vendors on the day including Margaret at Inspired by SteamPunk. She makes lovely steampunk themed jewellery including earrings, bracelets and even a tiara. She had travelled from Lancashire just to get to the market and says that it had gone well. It would seem that the Apothecary is gaining ground each time it takes place. More and more people confirm attendance on the Facebook page.
Alongside Margaret were some insane creations made out of old dolls. They reminded me of Phoebe’s paintings in Friends, they were so bizarre. They had clearly come from the mind of a creative insane genius. Accompanying them in the first section of the market was another steampunk themed jewellery stall and some superhero based collectibles. In the second section was a wonderful chocolate stall (obviously the stall wasn’t made of chocolate). I also bumped into Deborah from Purple Dream Design. I’d previously seen her at Leeds Steampunk Market and bought a wonderfully surreal bead spider with a carved human skull while there. She had her usual display of glittery bead creatures, some small, some large, some dark, some bright but all were amazing.
My favourite was the Albion Artifacts introducing Cockett & Pugh stall. On the table was a row of steampunk revolvers. Each one was unique with grey or brass frames, copper barrels and wooden grips in various colours. None of them are working and are only for show, but look so realistic. Displayed on an upright case were some glorious brooches and jewellery made of brass which do have moving parts.
The market benefitted from a little music which came in the form of a local artist. Things like this work well to create some ambience and something for people to watch while also promoting local talent. Steampunks are like the residents of Ankh-Morpork and are easily amused, so this kind of thing is great. If you still feel the need to satisfy your history lobe once finished, across the road is a bar called the Old Chemist. It’s a gorgeous steampunk/vintage/apothecary style bar – so quite apt – with staff in braces and tweed suits. It was a lovely, gentle afternoon in Barnsley and I expect I will do it again.
You can learn more about the Apothecarium by visiting their Facebook page here: Barnsely Apothecarium Facebook Page