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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Carlisle museum transformed into steampunk playground

Tea duelling – the sport of dunking biscuits – took centre stage at the circus which filled Tullie House in Carlisle last night.

tea duel  photo
Hannah Drake and Mandy Williams prepare to dunk biscuits in the tea duelling contest

Visitors to the museum learned the difference between a ‘nom’, ‘splatter’, ‘splodge’ and ‘splash’ as they mastered eating Malted Milks which had been dunked in a cuppa for five seconds.

The popular duels were led by Tiffin Master Michael Spence and Pot Master Geoffrey McCarthy and formed part of the fun in the Steampunk Playground – Tullie House’s 2014 Museums at Night event.

Other attractions included the chance to do fancy dress life drawing – either as a model or artist; crafts; magician Chris Cook from Kendal; and the intricate automata models that are part of the successful Mechanical Circus exhibition running until June 1.

Steampunk – a form of science fiction, art and style inspired by steam power and historical periods like the Victorian era – brought out the county’s edgy fashionistas.

Top hats, bowlers, goggles, corsets, waistcoats and even a mousetrap were among items visitors wore.

Eilish Carthy, a masters student at the University of Cumbria, was among a group of friends from Carlisle who snapped up tickets and wore fancy dress.

She said: “I didn’t know about Steampunk so I didn’t really know what to wear so I had to do a bit of research but it is so good that people have gone to so much trouble, it has really added to the night.”

Friend Hannah Drake added: “The tea duelling was surprisingly a lot more stressful than it looks.”

Drew Brown, of Orton Road, Carlisle, is chairman of the Steampunk Cumbria group of enthusiasts who supported the event.

He said: “I’m glad to see this on and that the tea duelling is doing so well. We’d seen the Mechanical Circus exhibition and we were asked for our ideas on what could work at the event.”

Museums at Night is an annual scheme where museums across the country are encouraged to open up after hours to attract different audiences.

Jill Goodfellow, programming assistant at Tullie House, said: “We’re really impressed at how many people have turned up in extravagant fancy dress.”

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