The guy on Northern Life’s front cover, resplendent in fabulous purple jacket and hat, is none other than Michael Young, one of the North’s leading Steampunk enthusiasts.
Michael, from Saltaire, is one of the organisers of the famous Haworth Steampunk Weekends, where hundreds of folk turn up dressed in weird and wonderful Victorian-style costumes with a sci-fi twist.
This year was the fourth to be held at Haworth, starting with a wealth of indoor entertainment on the Friday evening, and although the Saturday was marred by a dreadful deluge that kept people away, Sunday was bright and everyone enjoyed a great day.
“The weather on the Saturday was just awful, and we all looked like drowned rats” said Michael. “Sunday’s weather was predicted to be worse, but thankfully it turned out fine for us.”
The weekend featured dancers, musicians, burlesque performers, vintage vehicles, Steampunk traders, a fashion show, masquerade ball, and lots more including ‘tea duelling,’ which involves a tense stand-off over dunked biscuits. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway also steamed into the action with discounted tickets for passengers wearing Steampunk costume, and the whole event raised between £2,000 and £3,000 for Manorlands Hospice at Oxenhope, a Sue Ryder Home.
Michael’s own eye-catching costume was made just for him by specialist costume maker Joan Evans, but many Steampunks conjure up their own wacky outfits using charity shop clobber and a wild imagination.
For those who may be baffled by what Steampunk means, it’s described as “a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery in a setting inspired by industrialised western 19th century civilisation with participants wearing fashions inspired by artistic styles that the movement encapsulates.”
If you’ve seen films such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Golden Compass, The Wild Wild West or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea you’ll get the picture.
In his day job, 50-year-old Michael works at a Bradford Council recycling centre, but his spare time is entirely dedicated to arranging Steampunk events along with his fellow organisers, Hilary Sedgwick, from Garforth, and Neal Rylatt, from Wakefield.
They’re also organising a Steampunk Weekend at Whitby on February 4th/5th, a Steampunk Picnic at Haworth in May or June, and a two-day event at Doncaster Airport on July 15th/16th for the ‘Spirit of Great Britain,’ the last Vulcan V-bomber to fly.
Things get pretty hectic for them when dates for the events draw near and their budget for advertising is negligible, so they spread the word via Facebook and their own page, White Rose Yorkshire Steampunks.