Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The Thursford Collection, Norfolk

I've been on holiday in rainy Norfolk for the last few days. Camping. My tent blew away, but it was still amazingly good fun.

During my trip, as the leaden skies wept uncontrollably onto my already dripping jeans, I took a jaunt to the living anachronism that is the Thursford Collection, a brilliantly mad museum in the middle of nowhere.

For a mere £6 (students £5.25) you can stroll around an array of steam engines, fairground rides, and street organs (the bizarre, oversized, highly decorated precursors to jukeboxes that you'll find in town precincts and at 'fun days' across the country).

Best of all, the collection is home to an enormous white Wurlitzer organ, the fourth largest in Europe, which was formerly installed in the Paramount Cinema in Leeds. Thrice daily, it's played by pipe maestro, and Bob Downe lookalike, Robert Wolfe. We stayed for two performances, which included such glories as the Dambusters March (which accompanied footage of the bombers) and I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside.

Robert is a grinning, showboating genius, and the moment when the organ sunk back down into its pit, only to stop abruptly halfway down, due to the short height of the stage was one of the best things I have ever seen.

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