February 10th and 11th 2018 saw the third Whitby Steampunk Weekend held at the Pavillion of the famous coastal town. Famous because its Abbey was used as a location in Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. Of course that has little to do with steampunk and that was exactly my excuse for not walking up those infernal steps.
Despite the official start of the event being the 10th February, Absynthe Affair and Steampunk Almanac supremo Atticus Oldman organised a quiet soiree in the Met (the location of last year’s Saturday evening Masquerade Ball). What started out as an opportunity for the 30 or so traders to get together and catch up, swap merchant tales and discuss the forthcoming weekend, ended up being a night of 150 people who decided to descend on the town a night early.
It was a lovely evening of music from the turntables of Atticus amidst performances from Gurdybird – the girl with the best smile in the community – and Titi von Tranz – the girl with arguably the best legs in the community. After replenishing lost vital fluids (vodka is vital, right?) the time came to retire for the following day.
Whitby Steampunk Weekend days
Saturday morning was a typically damp start for the time of year in Northern England. Despite the event not straying further than the Pavillion so far, there’s always been some interesting things to look at outside. Steve Kay’s VW Campervan being a resident at the event was there again with a few extra additions to the decor. Joining the Campervan was the Steam Powered Barbershop. However, most of the entertainment was inside. As per the last two events, the market was spread over two floors and it interested me how they have such a different feel to them. The top floor seems darker, a bit grittier maybe with more rough and ready or natural style products such as Rock & Goth Enterprises. He sells base materials to help you build props as well as pre-built items. Downstairs seems to be more airy and light. There’s more ready made items or “off the peg” if you like. This means there’s something for everyone of all levels of skill. I can’t make stuff for toffee, so ready made items are a Godsend to me.
Along with the markets, there was also some daytime entertainment to break up the stroll. On the stage Atticus Oldman from Steampunk Almanac and online radio show Absynthe Affair was holding down the fort by playing music and introducing talks and workshops as well as the new form of Tea-duelling.
Some of the more wonderful stalls I saw this time round included John and Lisa from PNP Alternative who make such wonderful Pith helmets and goggles as well as other decorations for hats and clothing. I want to give a mention to Wint and Jools from Victorian Sanitorium. They were always busy whenever I had the time to go and see them so sadly missed speaking to them. However, they are new onto the steampunk trading scene and have a background in Goth culture. As well as bridging the divide between goth and steampunk, they illustrate our common ground of wanting to assist charities. They did this by having a SOPHIE collection tin on their stall for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
Lower levels, but still high quality
Downstairs in her usual place, Emma from Apple Tree Vintage was beavering away at her stall making ladies look incredible with her unique gift of vintage accessorising. Although, like a mysterious Bermuda style triangle, there were three stalls of note in the downstairs trading plaza. Right at the entrance next to Apple Tree Vintage was the Whitby Brewery. This local brewer is situated literally across the road from the famous Abbey. Starting off as a microbrewery in 2013, they’ve extended to a range of eight different beers, ales and stouts as well as seasonal specials.
In the far right corner as you were to look down the length of the trading room, you would have found Nick Fletcher. Interestingly he’s an Electrical Contractor but also makes steampunk lighting. And what lighting! The quality of the products was superb with lights being made out of all sorts of pipes, candelabras and vintage lamp shades. Directly across from Nick in the opposite corner you could find Roberta from Barocco Tribal. She’s an interesting character. Bohemian, spiritual, knowledgeable and trusting. Her clothes are all made from recycled bridal saris and they are simply stunning. Turkish vests, skirts and the most incredible fully adjustable corset jackets. The colours, styles and designs were fantastic and you have to go to her Facebook page to fully appreciate the skill involved.
Talks, Entertainment and Workshops
Along with the markets, visitors were treated to a number of other entertaining workshops, talks and demonstrations. Most importantly was the fact that I was pencilled in with Atticus and Montague Jacques Fromage to chat about steampunk – mainly to newcomers to the scene wanting to understand it’s origins. Well you’d think it was most important, but scheduling and technological issues caused such delays. Our 45 minute slot was eaten up and it was unfortunately abandoned. I wanted to ask why other less important people couldn’t be cancelled instead, but felt it prudent to pack my ego away. I’m kidding of course, although saddened that I couldn’t get to share views, information and thoughts, I was only too happy to allow others to ensure they got their time.
Sharing the stage with us was more live music from Titi von Tranz and Gurdybird. Also a fascinating chat from Paul Fitz George on Whitby’s ghosts and their influence on Gothic literature. Tea Duelling was held at Whitby Steampunk Weekend for the first time ever. It was hosted by Captain Thomas Glossop and his gorgeous Tea Mistress Lady Ruby Sparklemore. Tea Duelling at Whitby took a new twist. The Masters of Ceremony had added a new slant to their duels. The addition of a small NERF pistol was an interesting one. From what I could gather, the rules were as per usual Tea Duelling. With the exception that after pulling the biscuit out of the tea, it had to be held aloft. The opponent could either try to shoot the biscuit or the other person (not the head as that’s an instant disqualification). If their biscuit fell in the process of trying to shoot, then they lose. I will be getting the full rules and adding them to the Game Rules section of Steampunk Journal, though.
Along with the main stage entertainment, in the Theatre area there was a Bartitsu demonstration. Bartitsu is a form of mixed martial art using various weapons associated with the Victorian era. Items such as canes, hidden swords and the human body are all trained to fight with. The early afternoon also had showings of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for free.
As well as Victorian Sanitorium doing their bit for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, in the Pavilion Foyer Stand Up to Cancer had a stall which held raffles on the Saturday. You could also have a chat with the staff about the work that they do as a cooperation between Cancer Research UK and Channel 4. On Sunday the space was used by the Yorkshire Coast Dog Rescue. Founded in 2010, the charity receives no funding from the government and rely on generous public donations and volunteer staff. They work tirelessly to ensure the dogs they care for find a forever home. Please go to their page and give it a like as they haven’t had anywhere near as many as they deserve.
For people interested in learning how to make something for their steampunk clothes, the Steampunk Seamstress gave regular 5-1 workshops at her stall throughout the day. I was also happy to see the Time Travelling Tea Tent land safely at Whitby. Though it was hidden away at the top of the stairs past the cafe. However the event is laid out to be explored and wasn’t too difficult to find.
Everyone I spoke to had a lot of fun throughout the day. The stall holders told me that they’d been really busy. Phil from Albion Artefacts (superbly crafted wooden replica pistols) had started to run out of stock. As I spoke to him, despite it being late afternoon, he shook his still full sandwich box at me to show that he’d not had time to stop. If you’re considering visiting the July event, it’s worth the journey. Not just for the amount of things available to see and do for free. In fact the only thing that Andy – the organiser – charges for are the tickets for the evening entertainment (see the follow up article to this to get an idea of what goes on) and the enamel pin badges which actually paid for the licence fee of the film so that it could be provided free of charge. It’s a wonderful way to make sure that people get a pleasurable day and a token momento of their visit.
5pm saw the trading days come to a close. If it wasn’t for the glorious sunshine waving us off home, it would have been a much sadder day on Sunday. Keep a look out for the second article chronicalling the Saturday night fun. With Professor Elemental, Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers and Montague Jacques Fromage involved, it promises to be fun.
Here’s the rest of the pictures I took: