Claymills Steam Day - August 2012

A day spent with a Steampunk group at the Claymills Pumping Station, Staffordshire

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternate history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, and China Mieville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's Analytical Engine.

The Claymills Pumping Station, located near Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, periodically holds "steam days" when the pump engines are in steam. These events attract a large number of visitors.

In addition to the working engines, visitors are able to see other exhibits from the industrial past.

It was at one such open day in August that a Steampunk group attended to entertain the public and to exhibit (in the style of P.T. Barnum) the marvelous "Palace of Curiosities" featuring the "Marcus Island Mermaid".

Exhibits such as the mermaid were popular in Victorian times and even gained the patronage of royalty, but they were also often the focus of attention for various protest groups.