For a long time Arthur Frampton of Ordnance City Brewery (ex-Avalon, ex-More) has been twisting our arm to visit his brewery in Somerset. We finally made the pilgrimmage in the preserved Bristol RE 2062 (WHW 374G) on Saturday 28th September 2013 and my god, was it ever worth the wait!!!. Arthur’s invitation had cryptically mentioned his er, arrangement with a special effects company called Event Horizon and underlined the word “arsenal” in his email. I guess the clue was in the name … Ordnance!
3 exceptional beers were available to erm-sample: Willie Pete (3.9%) a well-rounded session-ale, SIBA award-winning Claymore Porter (4.5%) and Sidewinder; an American style well-hopped red-ale weighing in at 4.7%. While we expected to see the brewery and meet the brewer we were not ready for the welcome we were given by Charlie Adcock and his team from Event Horizon. Our party was split into several groups who then bomb-bursted (couldn’t resist) around the site. Having charged my glass with Willie Pete I dropped into Charlie’s first party. A good move considering the staggering array of Section 5/prohibited weaponry on display in the 1st room!!! I would point out that at all times we were closely supervised and proper attention was paid to safety and of course all of the weapons we saw and handled were completely safe and obviously NOT operational.
With such a collection of “toys” on offer many of the party took the opportunity to photograph themselves and each other in various outrageous poses. A Smith and Wesson pistol will never EVER beat a rocket-launcher for instance but tell that to Paul and Richard please. Paul dropped the mag from the AK47, having not located it properly, causing a suitably “oh crap, look what I’ve just done” clattering noise on their nice flooring. The wall was festooned with movie posters to which E.H. had contributed, Batman, Harry Potter and the Marvel series to name but a few. I must confess that I may (or may not) have had my likeness recorded for posterity with a Glock pistol and was getting more than a little excited to heft a bespoke prop. weapon made for the latest Man from UNCLE remake. Having just visited the flicks to view RED2 I was amazed to hear that E.H. had blown-up – literally into the air – the car that Bruce Willis was hiding behind in the movie. Looking around the room I noticed an amount of IT equipment. Professional interest got the better of me and it was interesting to note they were using Windows 7 with custom-built PC’s running CAD. Charlie made it very clear that they are NOT artists and don’t use MAC’s!!!
Back to the brewery for a re-charge, this time the Claymore Porter and then into another building which housed a piece of equipment used by another branch of the E.H. outfit; for impact tests. I’m talking about … The Chicken Gun 🙂 feathers stlll stuffed unceremoniously in the business end. The chicken apparently is loaded into the device, pressurised to around 1,000 PSI (KFC take note please) and then “shot” at sections of aircraft wing while telemmetry records it all. Cartoon-like as this sounds it’s a serious business and one for which I will be forever-grateful when flying Trans-Atlantic in the future. Not that you see that many chickens at 35,000 feet. Oh, and there was a Vickers MG Mk4 1940-build machine gun mounted on a tripod at one end of the building, of which more anon.
Moving on to what became my favourite but unfortunately the strongest ale of the day, Sidewinder. A gorgeous US-style red-hoppy ale; or did I already mention that? OMG, beer-gasm!
Arthur and Charlie still had 2 more surprises in store for us. One of his colleagues demonstrated – with blanks and ear-defenders issued – the Vickers machine gun. My god what a row and incidentally sobering to realise people had been on the receiving end of one of these things. The icing on the cake for many, thrashing round one of Arthur’s fields in their latest toy, an Alvis Starstreak Mobile Command Vehicle at close to 50mph. Sitting inside in the almost-darkness it is scary to think that people in full kit will be thrown around in one of these and expected to pile out the back and into action. Once you had been moving for a short time you quickly lost your sense of direction with no external reference. Which lad – or lass, let’s not be sexist they were queuing up too – hasn’t dreamed of playing tank-commanders?
What can I say? A thoroughly brilliant trip to an excellent brewery and a special effects company. Many thanks Arthur and Charlie but you leave us with a right problem … how the hell are we ever going to beat this 🙂
Update: Thanks to Chris for bus gen and Neil/Paul for weaponry/equipment info.