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Events


Tommy is a Punk Engine Festival

Bored with too many Thomas the Tank Engine-themed event days the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway planned to hold a Thomas the Tanked Engine beer festival. This didn't go down too well with the owners of the Rev Audry's estate, so they hurriedly re-promoted it as a 'Tommy is a Punk Engine' event, complete with tribute bands 'The Rotten Jonnies', 'The Filth', 'The Ramtwos', 'The Six P*sstakes', 'The Dead Spits', 'The Klash', 'Gang of Fourish', 'Siouxsie and the Sousaphones'; 'The Gabardine Girls', 'The Brogues', 'Limp Big Toes', and 'X-Ray Goggles ft. Polly Vinehill on vocals'. And, just because it seemed the right thing to do, the R&B outfit 'Useless Juicy' played a repertoire of American train songs.

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For maximum authenticity many of these bands had never played a gig before, and the sound quality was rather poor with the volume always set to '11'. To ensure any fans of Spinal Tap felt at home a scale model of Stonehenge dominated the stage. The artic trailer used as the main stage was generously loaned by 'Vicious Sid' and ''Alf Barrel' – otherwise known as Sid and Alf Barrett Transport Ltd. The 'Doof Wagon' providing the amplification was however more Steampunk than Mad Max.

Those of more gentle dispositions preferred to stay in the Kasbar-themed 'Arabian Knights' beer tent. This came about because of a dire joke originating from not taking credit cards so there needed to be lots of notices informing customers it was a 'cash bar'. The joke took shape by festooning the marquee with Middle Eastern fabrics and 'magic carpets'.

Amongst this oriental exoticism there was an outbreak of English folk music by the likes of The Whelk Band, Ma' Ford and Daughters, Scan Tester and the Echocardiograms, The Invisible String Band ('amazing what a tone-deaf singer with a cheap sequencer can do' was the nearest to a flattering comment) plus other briefly-shining supernovae of Bungay's Black Shuck Acoustic Folk Fest (trying saying that after six or more pints of Bishops Snoring IPA… )

The motley collection of rolling stock was given a make-over for the day. Instead of painted faces for Thomas and Toby there were stylised versions of Tommy Ramone, Siouxsie Souix and Ziggie Stardust. Annie and Clarabel appeared as the Troublesome Teenagers with mohicans on top of their clerestories. And, well, as for the Troublesome Trucks, they dragged up as the Frolicsome Frocks – pink tutus n'all.


Tommy is a Punk Engine

'Tommy is a Punk Engine'

With apologies to Accucraft

Souxsie the Souix loco

Siouxsie the Souix locomotive (as if any excuse was needed to run US rolling stock on the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway)

More apologies to Accucraft

Rowland Emett had somewhat similar ideas soon after the Second World War ended…

Emett's US loco

Ziggy the tram loco

'Ziggy the Tram Loco'

Adapted from a drawing of Wisbech and Upwell Tramway's tram loco (a.k.a. LNER J70 68222; a.k.a. 'Toby the Tank Engine') by G Hastings published as a postcard in 1984.


Mostly too young to know much about Seventies Punk, still less remember Tommy Ramone (1949–2014), many of the audience turned up as Steampunks and even 'Whitby Goths'. Among them were several of the region's Molly Dancing teams. Curiously some of the dancers looked like they doubled up as musicians playing on the stage…

   

top: Old Glory    bottom: Pig Dyke Molly


Other events

In November 2018 the station at Whittlecreek commemorated the airmen (from both the First and Second World Wars) of the RNAS, RFC and RAF who served at the nearby airfield.

See this history of the real world RAF Sedgeford.


Future events

Heritage railways specialise in coming up with ever more obscure themes for special days so the management's advisors have made a number of suggestions for future events. However, as might be expected, volunteers to do the necessary organising are about as abundant as solid gold hen's teeth. So one or more of the following events may take place sometime:
  • steam-powered hot rod cars event (with drag racing down the beach at St Torpid's Bay)
  • land yacht racing on the strand – all the fun of kite-surfing without getting wet
  • Teddy Bears' Picnic – with 'Pooh Sticks competitions' over the River Creake. Also prizes for the best-dressed Winnie the Pooh or Paddington (the bear, not the station).
  • model railway show (every model railway should have one)
  • weird and occasionally wonderful live music events
  • St David's Day Extravaganza
  • Perrantide Pageant (around 5th March for those not versed in Cornish culture)
  • Northumbrian Independence Day (17th May)
  • Midsummer Manx Spectacular (though probably not as much spectacle as the real deal)
  • pick-your-own lavender events at the Eaton Lavender Experience – stop off at Lavender Halt on Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway
  • informal watching the sun set over the sea evenings – just because you can from St Torpid's Bay
  • 'Whirling Wader Spectaculars' – near St Torpid's Bay at the biggest high tides from late September onwards
  • 'Ghost Train' Hallow'en Special
  • Frestonia Festival (4th November)
  • Bonfire Night Spectacular. Can Whittlecreek outdo the Lewes Bonfire Celebration Societies?
  • Star Wars versus Star Trek. All-out warfare between cos-players. Last person standing is Dominatrix of the Universe. Relax in the evening afterwards with an interactive BDSM demonstration.
  • Santa Special. This Santa Special really is special! 'Special Santa's Grotto' on the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway is a hot tub. For over-40s only.
  • Hogmanay Special (Please note: return tickets may not be valid on New Year's Day if no one has sobered up to drive the trains.)

    uncertain timing

  • Who? Where? When? Day. Not sure about the venue or which century this will happen. Look out for a blue portaloo suddenly arriving near you! 'Dalek for a Day' opportunities can be pre-booked – if you are struggling to find a present for your far-right pro-genocide friends then could this be the final solution? 'E-X-T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-E' endlessly for a whole day! Also meet-and-greet the 9¾ Doctor, otherwise known as Professor Bumblebore (not to be confused with the 11½th Doctor, Dandelf).
  • The Swinecarbuncle Stopping Service. Since Brindlecliffe boarding school closed these services have been suspended.
  • Endless Ring Express. Non-stop services to serve the performance of the complete Ring Cycle operas by Wagner at the end of the pier at Brindlecliffe. Unfortunately a severe fire destroyed the pier before this event could be staged. But the management has retained the plans to provide a combined 'Hoppit' train-and-bus service as the Silmarillion Theatre (formerly Brindlecliffe's bingo hall, before the town's gentrification) has applied for an Arts Clique England grant to perform this cycle (in a translation into Quenya).



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Text and previously unpublished images copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2019