Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Royal Gunpowder Mills Victorian Christmas - 17th December 2006



Dr Tooms and I arrived at Royal Gunpowder Mills around 9:00 a.m. – it was a fantastically cold and sunny morning with a light frost - a good day for a hike, as I often say. We set up inside L168, a large building containing a barge, a train and a truck. I think we fitted in well with this strange collection and I completed this odd array of transportation by putting out the model of the Henson & StringfellowAerial’ Oddly enough this machine is usually on show but is often ignored by visitors or simply put down as a Da Vinci or a Wright Bros. Production although today someone remarked on the wonderfully eccentric Sir George Cayley.

Brian kindly let us use the sign that they had made for us in summer; just as well really, my ‘Grymm’s World of Wonders’ sign was still on the wall at home and the ‘Tooms Medical Marvels’ sign was in the loft wrapped in my striped table cover that should also have been with us....der!

Today we had something really special to put out; an Edison Phonograph, we had finally gone Multi-Media Victoriana! This amazing little contraption was made by Dr. Tooms and it now sat on a window sill pouring out slightly distorted and tinny Christmas Carols. More seasonal ambience included cloves scattered around to be crushed by the thronging public, some holly branches and sprigs of mistletoe here and there – Charley the Shrunken head got no takers despite the couple of leaves in his hair. Mr. Gage’s skull, on the other hand, looked as though The World Tree was growing out of his mangled pate.

I was shelling a hard boiled egg when I realised that the visitors had arrived, that half peeled egg was to sit there for several hours before I got to take a bite out of it! We were inundated with people and it also became apparent that, like Custer, we had made a bit of a tactical error: we were too far forward and we were rapidly flanked and surrounded by eager youngsters. One little girl thought my abandoned breakfast was part of the show.

The crowds were amazing and we had a great time with the young and old alike, we just couldn’t stop – the show must go on! I finally got to eat about 2:30 p.m. It was not until the sun had come round into our faces that I realised that we had talked for hours without a break.

I had a slightly surreal moment when I saw Dr. Tooms playing with a spinning top, He had either lost his marbles or the cold and food deprivation had finally got the better of me and I was starting to hallucinate. As it turned out Santa had given the kids traditional toys and the good doctor was simply showing a youngster how to use it.

Another young lady was intrigued by the eggs, apart from the hummingbird nest all I had with me was the ostrich and great auk model – I always remind people that it is illegal to take wild bird eggs and that all of mine are either models or farmed. Free range chicken eggs come in all shapes and sizes and can be painted as raptor eggs.

I had one hard boiled egg left so I compared it with the ostrich egg. She was sceptical about the reality of this chicken egg until I picked it up, bashed it and started to take the shell off – the effect was interesting!

The temperature dropped rapidly in the latter part of the afternoon and it was time to pack up. I could have sworn we were told that there would be two shows – if there was we missed the break.

Brian and Lynne came over for a chat while we were packing. It was great to finally meet Lynne; she has only been a disembodied voice up until now. It had been an excellent show both for us and The Mills, it was also a rather good way of finishing the season: we opened and closed at Royal Gunpowder Mills and once again we got excellent ‘reviews’ from public and the organisers alike.

This is Prof. Grymm wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and an excellent 2007