The Royal Gunpowder Mills began in the 17th century and were acquired by the Crown in 1787. The Mills have an illustrious history and today a few of the original buildings are still on the site although now they are mainly derelict. I had never visited before so I was quite looking forward to meeting up with the Hertfordshire Group of photographers and capturing the mood of the wild west re-enactment taking place there. https://www.royalgunpowdermills.com/
It was great to see Tanith the organiser again and Anabel, a fellow camera club member, and to meet everyone else. After the usual coffee and cake, Anabel and I set about capturing some portraits of the very authentic looking cowboys and girls who had recreated a small mining village. Here the baker, preacher, photographer, surveyor, artist and a variety of store keepers were keen to have their pictures taken. The smell of smoke from the fires and all the props so carefully arranged, catapulted me into another world.
We enjoyed looking through the lens of the old camera and watching the gunpowder explode (or not) each time a picture was taken. As we took turns to hide under the black cloth I was surprised to see such a soft and attractive image upside down on the glass plate. How different from the modern digital camera I had slung around my neck!
Midmorning saw the congregation come together to listen to a fiery speech from the preacher and to sing hymns, although a few of the cowboys seemed to know some alternative verses.
The highlight of the day was the shoot out when the small mining village was attacked by Mexican bandits. The explosions were very loud and realistic. The ensuing gunfight resulted in a large number of ‘deaths’.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable re-enactment, authentically staged with huge amounts of humour. I look forward to visiting this very unique and historically influential site in the near future!