Scourge of the High Skies

Well if you’re thinking my face looks familiar – drat!

You have probably seen this very unflattering mug shot on those tiresome WANTED posters the Admiralty keeps sticking up around the public houses of Bristol.  Where’s a man supposed to go for a quiet tot of gin these days?

And as for honour among thieves – don’t you believe it!  There’s only too many as would be more than willing to turn me over to the authorities for that paltry two hundred guineas.

a steampunk-shrunk modelSo yes, I’ll admit my way of earning a living might not be honest, in the strictest sense of the word, but it is certainly not easy.  My boys and I are out in all weathers, way above the streets where you land-lubbers lurk, lightening the loads of the airships and other sky-faring vessels up there.  Out in all weathers, we are, procuring booty and capturing ships, captains and passengers for ransom.  There’s always someone willing to pay a handsome price.

Let me tell you (very quickly, now – I don’t want to spend too long in these parts with those posters a-flapping in the wind.  There must still be some I haven’t managed to tear down) about my most notorious crime.  And this one took place on low land!

There I was, keeping myself to myself in a quiet little inn beside the Floating Harbour one evening, when in he walked.  Oh, he didn’t have his fine hat or any of those weapons he’s always bragging about, but I recognised him well enough – Algernon Cholmondeley, the Admiral of the High Skies.  Now it just so happens (don’t think I’m illiterate – there are some highly educated sky pirates around, you know) that I’d read Olivia Libris’ book The Vital Chapter, which told his story, so I primed my weapon and sauntered across to his table, just as he was about to begin his meal.

“That looks a fine bird you’re planning to eat, good Sir,” I says, standing right behind him and pressing the plasma gun very lightly against his back.  “Not peacock, by any chance, is it?”

His lordship started violently at that.  (You’d have to have read the start of the book to understand.)  That was when he realised there was a firearm aimed directly at his heart.

He sighed deeply.  “Montmorency Fairweather, if I’m not mistaken,”  he said.  “So is this your revenge?  You’re going to blow me to the four winds in this pleasant little hostelry?  How very ungentlemanly.”

“Not at all, Sir,” I replied, somewhat affronted that he should expect such coarse behaviour from a refined personage such as myself.  “You are worth far more to me alive than dead.  If you would do me the honour of accompanying me to my vessel, we will do the necessary and prepare  hostage notes for your employers and that lovely wife of yours.”

Rather reluctantly, his Lordship pushed aside the roast pheasant and walked slowly with me from the inn.

We came to know one another quite well, during the time of his confinement on various vessels in my fleet.  He took a keen interest in my ships, often asking the men most specific questions about the steering and engines.

In time, the Admiralty paid up and his Lordship was released quite unharmed, to return to his adoring family.  He shook me by the hand and expressed a wish that we might meet again, but in quite different circumstances.

sky PirateI have to admit, I rather took to the chap.

I certainly find myself substantially better off, thanks to that chance encounter beside Bristol’s fine Floating Harbour.

 

 

 

Monty Fairweather can be purchased – every man has his price – at 12th scale from this link.

Further adventures of Algernon Cholmondeley (now in a private collection) can be found on this blog in the Vital Chapter series of posts and here.

 

 

 

The Time-Traveller’s Companion

Well ‘excited’ is putting it mildly.  Henry and Charles have been leaping around Steampunk Towers all day, slapping each other on the back, chortling, yelling and banging their fists triumphantly on the workbench.

Henry and Charles' first bookI really can’t blame them, though.  First, they sold another of their time machines – and to a university lecturer in the United States who teaches time-travel, no less – and secondly, they have published their first book!

It’s a slender volume, comprising just twelve pages of text, but it constitutes an essential guide for any time-travellers who wish to journey through London’s past and future.

a fascinating readOh, there will be those who purchase the book and then complain that its print is too small to read.  So as is our custom, we will reproduce the text here in its entirety.

However we strongly suggest heading to The Steampunk DollsHouse and downloading a copy for yourself.  Not only is it a delightful little item to own, but if you do so, our little authors here will be quite ecstatic.

 

THE TIME- TRAVELLER’S COMPANION
London Edition
Charles and Henry Fortescue

Preface

Having travelled extensively through time from our workshop in the city of London, we humbly offer this volume to fellow temporal voyagers, in the earnest hope that they may avoid some of the pitfalls and experience some of the delights which we ourselves have encountered. We feel that this will quickly become an indispensable aid for all serious time-travellers.  London 1885

Section One: Dangers

Clearly, one of the most useful services we can render to our readers is to provide warning of times to avoid, when calibrating your time machine.

As all serious time travellers will be aware, your geographical location will not change – only your temporal one.

Consequently, this volume will be invaluable, should you be located in London or its environs.

 

A List of Dates to Avoid

AD 43   Moderate risk. Roman military invasion underway.  Pretty ruthless bunch.

AD 61 Extreme danger. Iceni tribe sacking the city.  Slaughtering everyone they see.

1066 Moderate risk. Unsettled times as Normans take control.

1381 High risk.  Gangs of peasants rampaging.  Some chap called Tyler in charge.  Avoid.

1642-9 High risk. Civil war.

1664-6 High risk.  Plague is rife.  People dropping like flies.

1666 Extreme danger.  London is ablaze.  Do not attempt to stop in early September.

1888 Low risk.  A spate of grizzly murders taking place in the capital.

1915 High risk.  War! Airships and futuristic flying machines dropping fire bombs on London.

1940-41 Extreme danger. London ablaze and virtually destroyed by fire bombs from flying craft.  Do not stop.

 

N.B.

Having seen the devastation of 1941, we have chosen not to travel further into the future, since we feel there is a very real possibility that some dreadful post-apocalyptic times lie ahead and that the world will indeed end in the year AD 2012.

Should any readers dare to venture into those uncertain times – and survive – by all means notify us of your findings upon your return and we will incorporate them in a future edition, with due credit to the authors, obviously.

 

Section Two: Highlights

Whilst it is only prudent to take due care, we wish to emphasise the uplifting and informative experiences that can be gained through judicious time-travelling.

In this section, therefore, we will outline some of the most fascinating and instructional journeys which we ourselves have experienced within the historic and fascinating city of London.

c.600,000 BC: We have found this to be a surprisingly warm and pleasant period in our capital’s history.  The astonished traveller can expect to encounter herds or mammoth, hippopotamus, deer, wild horses and much other wildlife strolling around the banks of the Thames.  A remarkable experience.

c.200 AD:  Should you wish to view London’s origins as a city, this would be an excellent time to stop.  A golden age of prosperity exists as London is being laid out by its Roman leaders.  They appear more mellow in this age.

c.884: The chance to see King Alfred the Great setting London up as his capital should not be missed.  The traveller is warned to avoid any encounters with the warlike Danes, but it is most instructive to see the Roman city being expanded and improved upon by a truly enlightened monarch.

1588 -1600:  It would be foolish, in our humble opinion, not to visit London at the time of the flowering of the world’s most esteemed playwright – William Shakespeare.  One of us was fortunate to watch a performance of Macbeth at a playhouse, with Mr Shakespeare himself taking the role of Duncan.

1838:  Should you be able to calibrate your machine to arrive in London on a specific date, why not attend the coronation of our beloved Queen Victoria on June 28th?  A stunning occasion.

1920-30:  For those requiring a relatively safe journey into the future, the wonders of this era should not be missed.  You will find locomotives running in tunnels beneath London’s streets, astonishing vehicles travelling at great speed on said streets and wonders which we can barely dream of.

Perhaps, in the far future – should the world survive – there will again be halcyon days of great splendour and achievements.  We earnestly hope that this will be the case.

Let us end this slim volume with a short, and by no means exhaustive list of items it would be wise to take with you on any adventures into other times. 

Reading about time travelUseful items for time-travel 

A supply of candles and lucifers.

A tin of dry biscuits.

A hip flask of brandy.

A supply of fine gold chains to exchange for currency.

Spare breeches and hose.

A firearm for self-protection.

This volume!

We wish you safe journeys.

 

 

A Visit to Brasston – Extended Version

Something a little different this week:  Jan Miller, who purchased both Algernon and Josephine Cholmondeley from our Etsy shop, has added a further chapter to the story of their impending visit to Brasston, The Most Cosmopolitan City Award winner in 1850.  Delighted to know that the Lord Admiral of the High Skies and his wife are in such excellent hands.

We hope you will enjoy reading both chapters here:

Chapter 1

It was, not surprisingly, young Molly who found the book first.  She’d read her way through everything in the Steampunk-Shrunk library  – even the Suffragette newspapers – and had been on the lookout for something new.

“Excuse me, Lady Cholmondeley,” she said, dropping a pretty curtsy to Josephine, “But do you think your husband, seeing as how he’s the Lord Admiral of the High Fleet, could take me on one of his sky ship machines to Brasston?  They’ve got a perfectly splendid aerodrome and I’m sure they’d allow him to dock there.  Let me show you the pictures.  They’re in colour!”
“Why I’ve never heard of the place, my dear. Are you sure you’ve got the name correct?” smiled Josephine.
“Oh yes, Your Ladyship, Ma’am. I think it must be very famous. It won the ‘Most Cosmopolitan City Award’ in 1850.”

Josephine started to look through the book – a most difficult process since, unlike the inhabitants of Shrunk Towers, this book had not been shrunk to one twelfth of its original size.  She had to obtain assistance from several other members of the community and they in turn became mesmerised by the splendours of Brasston.

“Good lord!” Barnaby Balsover exclaimed, “There’s a chap there having his shoes polished by a clockwork automaton!  Quite remarkable!”
“Certainly,” agreed Ava Brassfeather, “And it says they do tours of the clock factory and provide cake and tea.”
“I believe it says you have to pay extra for cups and saucers, though, Ma’am,” Molly whispered, jumping in alarm when Ava made a loud tutting sound.
Molly wasn’t sure whether this was aimed at herself or the facilities available at the works, but she didn’t venture to speak again.

A touching moment for the valiant coupleWhen Algernon returned from a successful raid on a troublesome bunch of sky pirates who had been terrorising the airways above Penge, he was met by a mass of pleading faces.
His wife took his arm, gazed alluringly into his eyes and purred, “My dearest…”

“Hmm,” he said finally, once he’d had a strong cup of gunpowder tea and an opportunity to peruse the book.  “I strongly suspect that this is a work of fiction, created by this rather splendid gentleman on the back cover, Mr Ashley G.K. Miller.  I’m not convinced that the city exists.”

“Well if anyone can find it, it’s you, Old Boy,”  announced Lord Horatio Backgammon, and the others joined in a chorus of agreement with his Lordship’s sentiment.

And so, as I write, the entire group is busy packing and preparing for an epic journey in one of the fleet’s most capacious dirigibles, while Algy is earnestly poring over his charts, in search of the city of Brasston. Unfortunately the trip was delayed – but that is another story!

Should you wish to discover this remarkable location for yourself, dear reader, I suggest visiting Mr Miller’s Facebook page, where you will find all the details you need.

Chapter 2

After several months, Algernon Cholmondeley, Lord Admiral of the High Fleet, was finally re-united with his dear wife Josephine. He had been captured by Sky Pirates before he could take his friends on the planned trip to Brasston.   Josephine was so relieved to see him again.  But they had been communicating by means of the steam telegraph while he was captive.

 

It seems the Sky Pirates extracted a large ransom from the Admiralty before releasing Algy unharmed. He, meanwhile, had secretly been inspecting the Sky Pirates remarkable Airships and learning as much as he could about their design.  Of course Algernon was used to high powered airships in his normal day job, but the Sky Pirates had adapted some new ideas from other countries they had plundered.  Algy was now determined to make a new airship of his own.  It would have all the latest technology for the 1850s, including a pigeon-guided location finder.

Some of Algy’s pictures of the Sky Pirates’ airships

 

As his wife and friends were so interested in visiting this Brasston, he could use that trip as an experimental run.

 

 

Lady Cholmondely had also been in contact with Mr Ashley G. K. Miller, the author of the esteemed volume; ‘A Traveller’s Guide to Brasston’ which had started the whole thing, and he had sent  pictures of himself on one of his recent Hot Air Balloon Flights.

 

 

He said he would be delighted to help them make the Airship and take them to Brasston.

Lady Cholmondeley soon got the local enthusiasts together to collect all the bits and pieces they could find to make the new Airship. Having Algy’s colleagues in the Admiralty look through the old sheds, and with Mr. Miller’s collection of past pieces they had quite a good start.

 

 

Josephine and her friend Penelope set to work right away to make a comfortable day-bed for the passengers inside the Airship, while Young Algy played with his own model one. ‘Oh these feathers are going up my nose!’ exclaimed  Josephine.

They were happily employed in this activity while Lord Algernon thought about his new Airship design. More about how he is getting on with it another time!

 

Jan Miller is a writer and publisher on the conservation of native plants. She also has an interest in miniature plants and crafts.  See her website www.7wells.co.uk where you can also find her Asperger’s Syndrome son Ashley G. K. Miller’s book about Steampunk Lego ‘Brasston’.

Lord and Lady Cholmondeley and the Steampunk artifacts were upcycled and made by Jan Stone at Steampunk-Shrunk. Victorian dolls’ house and conservatory with real plants by Jan Miller.

A Touch of Clarity at Steampunk-Shrunk

Charles lands at Steampunk TowersA new year dawns, marked here at Steampunk Towers by Charles’ jubilant arrival on January 1st in his velvet-seated time machine.  Considering the adventures he’s had, neither he nor the machine are looking in bad shape at all.  True, he’s been slightly pompous since someone commented that he looked ‘very timelordish’, but we can forgive him for that.

Anyhow, for those new to our site, or confused by recent changes, here are some notes on what exactly Steampunk-Shrunk is and how it trades.

Unique and Upcycled

Everything produced by Steampunk-Shrunk is a hand-made and one-of-a-kind (OOAK) creation.  Upcycling is very much part of our ethos.  It is a point of honour here to find novel new uses for plastic packaging, broken jewellery or watches and the kind of junk that lies about most homes and charity shops in forgotten boxes and shelves.  This tinkering and repurposing lies, after all, at the very heart of steampunk.

Selling Direct

Shrewsbury Christmas spectacular 2018Our favourite way of selling is through the Steampunk-Shrunk trading stalls.  These can be found at various steampunk fairs and conventions throughout the UK, at selected dollshouse and miniatures fairs and sometimes at craft and vintage fairs.  We love to be able to chat to customers, to allow them to pick up and examine our wares and see if they can read our tiny books.
The next fair we have booked is in Shrewsbury in March 2019, but all venues will be listed on the home page of this website and promoted on our Facebook page.

The Steampunk Dolls’ House

This is the international trading arm of our micro-business.  At the time of writing, we have around 35 lines for sale in this Etsy shop, which can be shipped around the world.  We try to provide plenty of photos and detailed descriptions, so that customers know what they are getting, and it’s very easy for them to ask questions or chat about items we are selling.   All our reviews so far have had five stars, which is hugely encouraging.  The link to the Etsy shop is here.

The Crispin Emporium

Street, SomersetOur latest sales venture is hiring a glass cabinet in a beautiful craft emporium in the Somerset town of Street.
Street is best known as the home of Clarks Shoes and the massive Clarks Shopping Village.
The emporium, upstairs in the newly refurbished Crispin Centre, supports and showcases local artists and craftspeople and provides a welcome change from the chain store outlets.  The building also houses a gorgeous florist shop, a very lovely cafe (Street Food!) and various meeting and event rooms.  It gets its name, incidentally, from St Crispin who – along with his brother St Crispian – is the patron saint of shoemaking.
If you are visiting Street this year, or nearby Wells or Glastonbury, do call in and take a look.  Here is a link to the emporium’s Facebook page, so you can check opening times etc.  The address is: 83 High Street, Street, Somerset, BA16 0EZ.

There is also a contact form on the home page of this website, if there are items you would like to know more about.