The Gosport Steampunk Society and Holmes Fest

Stuart Markham – The Gosport Steampunk Society at Holmes Fest 2017

Gosport Steampunk Society

Stuart Markham Talks About The Gosport Steampunk Society and Holmes Fest

The Victorians were a strange bunch. Alongside inequality, grinding poverty and imperialism, they also gave us extraordinary visionaries like Wells, Verne, Rider Haggard, and countless others, not the least of whom was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

So, when I heard that Holmes Fest would celebrate the life and times of Conan Doyle in Portsmouth, I knew straight away that the Gosport Steampunk Society must be involved! That’s why we’ll be demonstrating feats of marksmanship on stage, among the storytelling and the music, as well as inviting you to a duel…

But fear not! Our deadly weapons are nerf guns (and yes, I do know the Victorians didn’t invent soft polystyrene bullets!).

Tickets for Holmes Fest 2017 available here

Wednesday 28th June, 6.30pm, The Square Tower, Portsmouth

Price: £7.50

One of the things I love about the Victorians is the way they imagined the future. For them, it was a glorious Victorian future full of steam and brass and clanking machines and space travel and lost worlds and handfuls of scarlet-clad soldiers fighting Martian invaders, led by mutton-chopped heroes with pith helmets and clockwork rifles! (Heroes not unlike myself, I may add.)

The Gosport Steampunk Society, along with other Groups, seek to celebrate this retro-futurism at regular meetings (called Convivials) and events and gatherings all round the country – indeed, the world.

We socialise, we espouse politeness and a Victorian bearing, we costume (the Steampunk motto is Be Splendid), and we craft. We hold mock duels and shooting challenges, we attend concerts and saucy burlesque evenings, but above all we have fun, in a Victorian science-fiction setting.

In short we use our skills and imagination to participate in the future the Victorians never got to have.

So, we’re at Holmes Fest to add our own special ingredient to the mix. It’s going to be fun – and don’t forget to challenge one of us to a duel. Our nerf guns are primed!

The GSS meets every first Tuesday of the month at 7:30pm, at the newly refurbished Fighting Cocks pub in Alverstoke, a short walk from the Gosport Ferry, and you will find us a most welcoming bunch of enthusiasts.

The Gosport Steampunk Society and Holmes Fest

Line-up for Portsmouth’s Holmes Fest Announced

Conan Doyle revisiting the site of his surgery, No 1 Bush Villas, Elm Grove, in 1911 – by then a corset shop! (courtesy of the Conan Doyle Encyclopedia


10 brilliantly talented storytellers will be joined by musicians, a projectionist and a duellist on Wednesday 28th June at the Square Tower to celebrate Arthur Conan Doyle’s life in Portsmouth.

The writers who will be regaling us with their stories include internationally published authors of Victorian crime fiction, local authors with a knack for spinning the perfect yarn and song writers, too.

The story tellers are:

  • William George Sutton – creator of the Campbell Lawless series of crime novels
  • Diana Bretherick – doctor of criminology and author of City of Devils and The Devil’s Daughters
  • Tony Noon – experienced storyteller well-known for his appearances at the Square Tower’s Day of the Dead event
  • Justin MacCormack – prolific author across genres, with a wicked sense of humour and a sense of the creepy
  • Christine Lawrence – author of Caught In The Web, with a unique brand of story-telling
  • Alan Morris – joyous performer who loves to dress up in Victorian gear and regale us with something unexpected
  • Zella Compton – playwright, short story writer, News columnist and children’s novelist
  • Charlotte Comley – organiser of Lovedean Writers’ Group and one of the funniest, wryest and most brilliant tale tellers in the south.
  • Amanda Garrie – smooth deliverer of intriguing tales.

Find out more about the musicians and the duellists, soon.

Tickets are selling – snaffle your seats at Holmes Fest now!


Arthur Conan Doyle and the vicar of St Jude’s, Southsea

Southsea – St Jude’s Church and Vicarage

In his book A Study In Southsea, Geoffrey Stavert traces Arthur Conan Doyle’s life in the seaside town, partially through Doyle’s fictionalised account of Southsea life in his novel The Stark Munro letters. His real-life surgery at No. 1 Bush Villas, was renamed “Oakley Villas”, while St Jude’s was newly Christened “St. Joseph’s”. Stavert writes:

At “Elmwood”, a pleasantly commodious Thomas Owen house situated just off Elm Grove between Grove Road South and the Woodpath (on part of the site now occupied by Telephone House), with lawns and hedges on three sides, lived the Reverend Charles Russell Tompkins, a curate of St Jude’s Church, Southsea. Not content with a wife and seven daughters to minister to his creature comforts, the Rev. Tompkins also maintained a cook, a housemaid and a nurse. It sounds as if St. Jude’s was a comfortable parish in 1883.

I suspect the Rev. Tompkins was the original of the un-named “High Church Curate of St. Joseph’s” whose encounter with the new tenant of Oakley Villas is described in The Stark Munro Letters. The curate had been one of the first to call after the new doctor had put up his plate, with high hopes of welcoming him to the flock, and had been considerably taken aback when he was firmly told that the doctor had no intention of becoming a regular attender at his church or any other…

Come and celebrate Conan Doyle’s life in Portsmouth at Holmes Fest on 28th June 2017 at The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth. Tickets are selling, so book your seat here before it’s too late.

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