Events and festivals

'Blitz Hill': An Evening on the Home Front, June 22

Blitz Hill 'An Evening on the Home Front'

ABOVE: Actors will portray WWII Britons during "An Evening on the Home Front" at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Shropshire.

Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of Shropshire's ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums, is celebrating its 40th anniversary with "Blitz Hill: An Evening on the Home Front" on Saturday, June 22, from 6 to 9 p.m.

When you arrive, you'll be given a ration coupon for an ounce of kali. (Think of the kali as an appetizer: Fish & chips and beer will be on sale in unlimited quantities throughout the evening.)

The museum's organizers note that "on this midsummer evening, no blackout will be required." You'll be able to see casting in the foundry, listen to a brass brand playing music of the era, meet the ARP warden and WVS leader, learn about "Digging for Victory," try a Spam fritter, learn ways to make the most of food rations, see vintage vehicles (including steam locomotives), and drill with the Home Guard.

Another item on the agenda is a concert in Morton's Ironworks, which will be presented in the style of the BBC's popular "Workers Playtime Show" that toured factories and workplaces around Britain during World War II.

To attend the "Blitz Hill" festivities, you'll need to purchase tickets in advance from the Blists Hill Victorian Town entrance shop, the Ironbridge VisitorCentre, or any of the other Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

For more information, visit the Blitz Hill page at

Photo: Ironbridge Gorge Museums.


'Teddy Bear Story' at Portsmouth Museum

Teddy Bear from Victoria and Albert Museum

ABOVE: A mohair plush teddy bear made by Chad Valley Company Ltd. around 1955. © Victoria and Albert Museum.

Do stuffed animals make you feel warm and fuzzy? Head for the Portsmouth City Museum in Portsmouth, England to see an exhibition of nearly 150 teddy bears from the V&A Museum of Childhood in London. The show will run from March 16 through September 15, 2013.

The exhibition showcases teddy bears of all shapes and sizes, along with teddies from picture books, movies, and TV shows. It traces the history of the teddy bear from the first designs (which were based on real animals) to modern "character and designer bears."

You'll learn about the materials and processes involved in the manufacture of teddy bears, and how social and economic change and safety concerns have influenced the evolution of teddy bears since their introduction in 1902. If this sounds too heavy for the kids, you needn't worry: The exhibit also features a Three Bears playhouse and an activity area for children.

The Portsmouth City Museum is on Museum Road in Portmouth, and it's open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed Mondays except for bank holidays.) Admission is free.

For more information, visit

Enginuity will display Meccano models on February 9th

Meccano locomotive model by Dave Harvey

ABOVE: A Meccano model of a Burrell locomotive by Dave Harvey. According to a description at, the model weighs about 30 lb (13.5 Kb), has two drive speeds and a differential, and took some 500 hours to build. You can see it on February 9 at Enginuity in Shropshire.

The Meccano system, known in the USA as "Erector Set," has had a cult following among modelers since Frank Hornby of Liverpool, England invented Meccano in 1901. The system, which remains in production, includes girders, strips, plates, shafts, gears, pulleys, and other items that can be used to assemble anything from a simple children's toy to large working models with moving parts.

Meccano is no longer the household name that it once was (Lego is better known among today's young model builders), but it continues to attract homegrown engineers--especially those with a taste for nostalgia.

Enginuity, one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire, England, will be featuring a display of Meccano models from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, the 9th of February.

The models include cranes, cars, clocks, trains, and many "quirky inventions." Some of the models contain vintage parts that are well over a hundred years old, and which are compatible with today's Meccano pieces.

Admission to the Meccano exhibition is included in the normal Enginuity admission fee, or with an Annual Passport Ticket which is valid for 12 months of unlimited visits to all 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

For more information, contact the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre at 01952 433 424 or visit

To learn more about the Telford and Ironbridge Meccano Society, which meets at Enguinity and is organizing the display, see