Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Royal Gunpowder Mills Victorian Christmas Experience - 13th December 2009



Sunday: We arrived in plenty of time to set up and psych ourselves up for the usual busy Christmas event. Thankfully we were in the warm, unlike the unfortunates stuck in L168; that open ended building can be quite an ordeal when it is cold outside. We met Liz early and then Brian popped by, he was wearing a black and white Santa hat with the words “Bah, Humbug!” on it, The Santa of the Dark Side had arrived, although he did promise to wear the red hat once he cheered up.

Although we were due to start at 11:00 the doors opened early for the public to have enough time for the extra panto that had been set up. Between the shows visitors came in to look at the museum, including Liz who came in to see what new things had been added. My prize this year is a Gilbert Islands war club recently acquired from Edward Bay’s Emporium. I first saw weapons from this region at what used to be The Museum of Mankind (now closed) at the back of Burlington Arcade. These islanders incorporated shark’s teeth into various palm wood clubs, daggers and knuckle dusters. Our piece looks like a rapier with small shark teeth along both edges. Warriors protected themselves from this nasty assortment by wearing cloth armour, helmets and a backboard.

We were very busy and hardly had a time to grab a fistful of calories, even as I popped the last morsel of sausage and bacon into my mouth more people turned up. I suddenly found myself inundated by a group of girls one of whom looked vaguely familiar; she was so taken by the platypus that she asked to buy it. When that failed she resorted to haggling and when that in turn failed she offered to swap her father’s entire record collection and throw in a couple of bottles of cola!!! I only hope she never goes into some sort of cut throat industry when she grows up – she will be pretty ruthless!

A friend of mine turned up around 3:00pm, he had been eager to bring a group of boys that he works with. Two of the lads were interested in all things natural history and one of them has an interest in model making and has already started trying various mediums and materials.

When we had first contacted Gunpowder Mills as a possible venue one of our suggestions had been to put on a magic lantern show in the theatre. What we had not known at the time was that Liz had not met many re-enactors and had some concerns. She need not have worried; our efforts to set up the infernal machine swiftly degenerated into a Laurel & Hardy sketch…the one with the piano springs to mind! By the time that we decided to give up, Liz had been reduced to hysterics.

So this evening we had offered to put on a lantern show once the public had gone and, I am glad to say, it went very well. So, after waiting for about four years Liz finally got to see us in action, I hope that it was worth the wait! And so the final event of the year drew to a close and we headed for home.

This is Prof Grymm…wishing everyone at Royal Gunpowder Mills a jolly good Yule.