Right now, steampunks in the UK are spoiled for choice with a veritable plethora of events taking place every weekend for much of the year. In the main, I confine myself to goings-on in and around West Yorkshire, but occasionally I venture further afield. Various friends had advised me to try at least one day of the twice yearly ‘A Splendid Day Out’ in Morecambe on the Lancashire coast. Having never so much as passed through the town, I decided that a visit on the first Saturday in June would make the perfect birthday treat to myself. The town is known for many things, not least of them as being the birthplace of Eric Morecambe, whose statue I visited first after arriving somewhat early thanks to the vagaries of Northern Rail.
The statue does not stand in isolation, rather it occupies a small area adjacent to the promenade, around which the stones carry messages and lists by and about the man Morecambe, his comedy partner, Ernie Wise, and the numerous guests who appeared on their show over the years. Obviously the town is very proud of its famous son, but it is also proud of its adopted steampunk ‘children’. Calling in at the Visitor Information Centre to reorganise the contents of my backpack, one of the staff was very keen to photograph my bear in all his steampunk finery and add the photo to the Centre’s Twitter Feed. There are lots of other fun pictures from the June event on there too.
A Splendid Day Out takes place over multiple venues. The Platform, part of the old Promenade Railway Station, hosted a market and various entertainments, as well as Tea Duelling competitions and a fine pop-up tea shop, while a nearby marquee hosted a second market. Street entertainers and dance groups performed outside the Platform, where visitors were also able to meet birds of prey. Further along the promenade, the Winter Gardens provided entertainment of a more artistic and literary variety, with inventors and authors displaying their works, as well as being interviewed on the venue’s main stage.
Several vehicles of interest were on display, including Battle Bessie, a Bedford MJ ammunition wagon, retired from army service in 2008 and since restored in 1940s Homefront style to act as a holiday let when not attending events around the country. Parked close by was The Ineffable Lady M’s Mercedes Campervan, fully equipped for paranormal investigations and jewellery crafting. We were also treated to the sight of two full-sized (and one miniature) stream lorries, as well as a short stretch of miniature leading us to yet another entertainment area, where delights included leather making classes, Chinese Dragon Dancers, and music hall entertainments.
The daytime events concluded with a parade of steampunks (and Chinese dragons) from the Midland Hotel down to Eric Morecambe’s statue and back. I went home, tired but happy, while those who were staying for the entire weekend retired to their accommodations in order to to prepare for the evening events.
A Splendid Day Out is aptly named, and I certainly plan to visit again very soon, hopefully for longer next time.