Knaphill’s own Oktoberfest – a splendid afternoon of Steam Trains & Fair Organs


On October 17th, Mizens Railway on Barrs Lane, Knaphill hosted the third annual Steam Trains & Fair Organs Oktoberfest!

The wonderful afternoon was organised by Paul Kirrage, a local enthusiast and collector of vintage mechanical musical instruments and The Woking Miniature Railway Society (Mizens Railway). Although originally conceived three years ago as a get together for vintage fairground organ enthusiasts, Oktoberfest has become popular with a much wider audience, keen to see and hear these rare antique mechanical musical masterpieces.

The Mizens site is the ideal location for Oktoberfest and the railway ran a special steam only service for the day adding to the nostalgic atmosphere. There were five large vintage fairground organs located around the site and visitors were never out of earshot from the music. These particular instruments were all built in the early years of the 20th century in Germany. In their hey-day they were used on fairgrounds to provide music to accompany the large steam driven carousels and side shows to entertain the  crowds. 

The invention of the amplifier in the late 1920s led to their demise. With the coming of the gramophone and changing public tastes in music the showmen no longer needed to transport and maintain these large and sometimes temperamental mechanical organs and they were gradually discarded. The victims of “progress” many ended their days as firewood or on the scrapheap, but luckily some survived and have been lovingly restored.

This year’s Oktoberfest attracted people from as far away as Cornwall, the Midlands and Europe to see and listen to these beautifully restored instruments. The visitors were fascinated by them all, but the De ‘Grote Wellershaus’ organ, which had travelled with its owner from Cologne seemed to be a special favourite.

A vintage children’s fun fair, craft and book stalls, an authentic German Bockwurst sausage bar (in keeping with the Oktoberfest theme) and The Garibaldi beer tent added to the attractions, and KRA had a stall with activities for children.

To get a flavour of the wonderful event we invite you to switch on your speakers, listen to the music and play the slide slow of some of the highlights of Oktoberfest 2010.

If you were at Mizens on Sunday you can relive some of the atmosphere of the day…..but if you missed the event make sure you put the date in your diary for next year – Oktoberfest 2011 on Sunday October 16th at Mizens. See you there!

Special Thanks to Paul Kirrage and to Mizens for holding this wonderful event in Knaphill and to local photographer Sarah Aires for creating the gorgeous Slide Show of Oktoberfest 2010 for KRA.


About Author

Andy is a business systems and operations consultant for The Business Delicatessen and has helped the KRA over several years. He is former editor of the magazine and also runs Fat Crow Design.

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