First steps in the exploration of space
Limited Edition from original artwork by Peter Barnfield

A28 COUNTDOWN - First steps in the exploration of space

The Whiminster & District Interplanetary Society designed a spaceship, Scorcher, which was constructed in a back shed at Bilges Boatyard, Wittermouth and winched onto a launching track high above the foreshore.The launch was attended by hundreds of inhabitants, also various dignitaries, including his worship the Mayor and a detachment of the Whiminster Fire Brigade, who galloped their No. 2 steam pump down the road to the coast. As noon approached the controller counted off the seconds and relayed them to the white-coated marshalls by megaphone. They in turn held up numbered cards to indicate the countdown to both pilot and rocket lighters who, at the appointed time, thrust their flaming torches into the mass of blue touchpapers on Scorcher's stern. Later, there was much speculation about how far the spacecraft had actually travelled. Some say about twelve inches, others six inches, but the sad truth is that Scorcher didn't move at all. What did happen was that the wooden staging erupted in flames, which were extinguished by the firemen's water cannon, and the eminent members of the W&DIS retired to their drawing boards to try again.