Hollycombe Steam in the Country is preparing to open its doors for the Easter weekend, following a busy programme of winter maintenance.
The museum, near Liphook, is a collection of steam-powered vehicles, rides and attractions, and includes fairground rides, a display farm and two railways.
Pride of place in Hollycombe’s Edwardian Fairground will go to the recently restored Haunted House – thought to be the only genuine one in the world. Constructed circa 1915 by master fairground manufacturer’s Orton and Spooner, the Haunted House is set to scare new generations of thrill seekers, with many original features having been put in place. The exterior of has been sympathetically restored by local artist Wayne Osborne of Osborne Signs, Midhurst.
Wayne said: “It is not every day that you get a commission to restore the painting on a fairground attraction, and as this is the world’s oldest Haunted House, it has been a very special job and an honour to be involved. The team used early photography a
Wayne said: “It is not every day that you get a commission to restore the painting on a fairground attraction, and as this is the world’s oldest Haunted House, it has been a very special job and an honour to be involved. The team used early photography and a lot of desk research to help recreate the characters shown on the Haunted House – I’d like to think that it will set pulses racing and raise the expectation for what lies within!”
Elsewhere, Hollycombe’s small band of volunteers has been busy attending to ground work on the Fairground and ensuring rides are looking at their best following the winter break.
“At this time of year we are putting the finishing touches to all our rides,” explained Hollycombe Trustee Brian Gooding. “Just a few weeks ago the Fairground looked like a bomb site, but it is now transformed and we are just waiting for the Rides Inspector to visit and give us the all clear for the new season.”
Works have been ongoing at the Hollycombe Quarry Railway, which has been regraded with new railway track in place, whilst volunteers have been clearing areas of the gardens, helping to showcase the attraction’s magnificent early flowering collection of daffodils, camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons.
A new face at Hollycombe will be site engineer Keith Hawkins, who joins the Hollycombe team from the De La Rue Paper Mill at Overton. “I’m really looking forward to the season starting,” said Keith. “I have been to Hollycombe many times before and it is such a thrill to think I will be helping to maintain the rides and the atmosphere for future generations to enjoy. One of my roles will be to assist with the volunteers, and to welcome and help train new members of the team. We are desperately in need of new supporters – no experience is necessary and there are many areas to get involved with. You don’t have to be interested in steam engines! We have roles for gardeners, stewards and for front and back of house teams too. We are just passionate about keeping Hollycombe alive and the more volunteers we have, the greater that likelihood is.”
One thing that hasn’t changed at Hollycombe are the prices – held at 2016 levels, with the popular ‘pay once, return for free’ tickets still being offered. This means those visiting over Easter, for example, can return as many times as they like for one year, including entrance to Hollycombe’s special events such as ‘Fairground at Night’ in September and October.
Hollycombe re-opens for the 2017 season on Good Friday, April 14, and will thereafter be open for the Easter weekend and then Sundays and Bank Holidays until mid-October. Added to this will be daily openings between May 31 – June 4, and August 1-28 (closed Mondays except August 28). Admission is £16 adults; £14 seniors and £12 children aged 3-15.
Hollycombe’s programme of special events for 2017 include:
APRIL 16-172017 – EASTER BUNNY EVENT
SUNDAYS APRIL 23, 30, May 7 – BLUEBELL WOOD TRAINS
MAY 20-21 – STEAM IN MINIATURE
JULY 15-16 – FAIRGROUND WEEKEND AND MECHANICAL ORGAN GATHERING
AUGUST 13 – CHILDREN’S TEDDY BEARS OUTING
SEPTEMBER 2-3 – MODEL WEEKEND
SEPTEMBER 16 – FAIRGROUND AT NIGHT
SEPTEMBER 23 – FAIRGROUND AT NIGHT
SEPTEMBER 30 – FAIRGROUND AT NIGHT
OCTOBER 7 – FAIRGROUND AT NIGHT
OCTOBER 14 – FAIRGROUND AT NIGHT
OCTOBER 21 – HALLOWEEN FAIRGROUND AT NIGHT
Hollycombe Steam in the Country, Iron Hill, Liphook