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55th annual - AMICA CONVENTION
BLACK HILLS - South Dakota
June 3 - 8, 2018

          Encyclopedia of Disc Music Boxes 1881 - 1920
       A History,
          Catalog Raisonné,
                and Appreciation.
                    By Q. David Bowers
       An AMICA-International Publication

Here's some preliminary information on the
AMICA 2011 London Convention

Preliminary Registration Form

Sundry YouTube videos of one of the planned venues:
The Great Dorset Steam Fair


AMICA Convention 2011 UK

Julian Dyer, Convention chair

I’m glad to report that arrangements are progressing with next year’s convention, which will be a coach tour starting from London, England. The highlight is a whole day spent at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, with many other top attractions along the way. I described the proposed tour in the last bulletin, so won’t repeat myself beyond giving a brief summary of the itinerary. As well as the main convention tour itself we are offering an optional extra tour for those who want even more mechanical music. The extension is, as its name suggests, optional, leaving you free to organize further touring for yourself – indeed, I hope that everybody uses this tour as an excuse to do lots of further travelling in the UK and further afield!  

I’m delighted that we’ve secured the services of Linda Hardiman to arrange everything for us. Linda will be well known to at least some of you as the organiser of numerous other highly-regarded tours in the UK and Europe, her “History in harmony” business specialising in mechanical music – she knows everybody and everywhere, so we’re in the very best possible hands for our convention. Linda has already completed the arrangements for travel and accommodation, and given us a firm price for the tour.

I’m also delighted that Liz Barnhart has, once again, agreed to manage the registration process for us, bringing her unparalleled experience of dealing with overseas AMICA events. With this bulletin we’re including a Preliminary Registration form so we can judge the level of interest and make sure we book enough hotel rooms. No money is needed at this stage: we will ask for a deposit in a couple of months and expect the full sum in early Spring 2011.

To spell out the rest of the setup, I’m the UK convention organizer, supported (and egged on) by Frank Nix as AMICA’s Convention Coordinator. I put together the tour, Frank makes sure you get here! We’ve prepared some tips and answered some questions, which you’ll find below. If there are other things we should deal with, let us know and we’ll publish answers for all to read.

As a brief reminder, here’s an outline of the tour:

Main tour

Sunday 28th August 2011: arrive at Heathrow hotel.

Monday 29th: Kew Gardens, Kew Bridge Pumping Engines and Brentford Musical Museum.

Tuesday 30th: Stonehenge, Salisbury.

Wednesday 31st: Great Dorset Steam Fair.

Thursday 1st September: West Somerset Railway, Minehead, plus a house visit.

Friday 2nd: Bristol, Big Pit museum, Steamship Great Britain.

Saturday 3rd: Roman & Georgian Bath, return to London.


Optional extension tour

Saturday 3rd: drive to Norwich.

Sunday 5th: Thursford Collection, North Norfolk Railway.

Monday 5th: Bardwell windmill, Bressingham Gardens and Steam Museum.

Tuesday 6th: Burtey Fen organ museum, plus private visit.

Wednesday 7th: Cotton Museum.

Thursday 8th: return to Heathrow.

The costs for the tours are as follows. These figures include all accommodation, coaches, entry fees for all the planned attractions, breakfast every day, and a few dinners. You pay your own airfare and for the remaining meals and any extras. Thanks to the way that British hotels operate there has to be an extra charge for single-occupancy rooms. The costs, per person, therefore work out as:



Double Room, per person

Single Room, per person







Both tours




These figures are based on an exchange rate of 1 Pound costing 1.9 Dollars, which is a worst-case estimate: the actual rate should be better than this and any surplus funds will be returned after the Convention. Non-US attendees will be able to pay directly in Pounds, to avoid unnecessary additional currency-exchange costs.



By Frank and Shirley Nix

            At the Buffalo Convention we asked how many were interested in next year’s England Convention, and were pleasantly surprised by the response. We did get a lot of good questions, however, and decided from now until next year we will have a short Q and A column to try to address these issues, and to give tips to make your trip more enjoyable.

            England is full of great venues, and we will try to take you to some of the most interesting and fun


            Our first tip is: PACK LIGHT. No more than one suitcase per person please, and keep it down in size. You will have to handle your own luggage or have someone else on the trip help you, no porters. We won’t be doing anything where you will need to dress for dinner, so don’t worry about that. Figure on wearing your outfits more than one day, and layer your clothes to save space. This is perhaps the main point where you can help yourself. You can always pick up clothing over there if the need arises. The tour will be staying in each hotel for at least two days, so there will be plenty of opportunities to organize laundry.

             Don’t forget to have a valid passport. Don’t wait until the last minute… check now to see that yours is dated well beyond when you return home, six months at least. This is very important, since sometimes it takes a bit longer than you might figure to get your passport updated. You can get the forms at the post office or on line.

             Rain? Well, this is England after all, and you should be prepared for it. A small umbrella or cheap plastic raincoat which folds into a small bundle doesn’t take up much space in your suitcase, or you can always buy one over there should it be needed.  

            Unfortunately we can’t accommodate wheel chairs or scooters on this trip. You will need to be able to walk on your own without mechanical help of any kind, although some help will be available at Dorset – see Julian’s note below.

             The Dorset Steam Fair will be a long day, but we will have the buses make a trip back to the hotel earlier for those who don’t want to stay the full time. This is a huge event, and you won’t want to miss it.

             We are trying to find out if there will be laundry facilities available at some of the hotels, and will let you know if this information becomes available. 

            We encourage you to come a few days early to let yourselves get over that famous jet lag before the trip starts. We’ll be at a hotel close to Heathrow and the transportation into London is good, so you can see some sights on your own and rest up to be ready when the Convention trip starts. There is a lot to see and do in London of course, and you should take advantage of it. As well as the registration costs which were given earlier, right now air fare, if we were going this year, would run about $1300 each from Los Angeles.

            Do plan to come. It will be a good trip, with lots of time to enjoy the sights, and you may see some things you would never find on your own. 

If you are planning on coming please send in the preliminary registration form as soon as possible.

If you have questions you can write or email us at:


Frank & Shirley,

6030 Oakdale Avenue, Woodland Hills, Ca. 91367


More answers, by Julian Dyer 

We know that our tour starts just after the end of the MBSI convention in Washington DC – it finishes on the Saturday night, we start Monday morning. This isn’t a problem – there’s plenty of time to get from Washington to London on the Sunday. Direct flights take just over 12 hours local time: in other words, leave Washington at 9am and you arrive at Heathrow at 9pm. Flights from America either leave early morning so they arrive by the evening, or leave in the evening to arrive in London early the next morning. Our hotel is right at Heathrow, just a few minutes from the terminals, and is in the free-travel zone so just hop the public bus or the hotel shuttle. The first day of the tour is around west London, only a few miles away from Heathrow, and even if you arrive on Monday morning you can catch up with us later that day or join us the next day at breakfast before we set off out of town towards Dorset. So, MBSI then Amica isn’t a problem other than jetlag.

 British weather? This will be late summer – indeed, the main tour is the last week of the school holidays, and our first day is the late-summer Bank Holiday. Don’t worry that it’ll be setting in for winter! The typical temperature during the day in early September in southern England is nearly 70 degrees, more than that if it’s clear and sunny, and less if it’s cloudy. It’s quite likely to be a bit of both during the tour. If it is clear it will be very pleasant indeed during the day but will get chilly in the evening, so be prepared. On our big day out at the Dorset fair, if it rains, you’ll find there are lots of marquees you can hide out in. Average rain is about 2 inches a month at this time of year, and it tends to come in a few bursts. It’s a lot drier here than you might imagine from British weather’s reputation – 30 inches rain per year in London as compared to 46” in New York and 14” in Los Angeles. For the extension tour, Norfolk is drier, having not much above 20” rain.

 The Dorset site is very big, a full square mile if you include parking and camp sites. The organizers do what they can for the less mobile, given that it’s farm land. As a coach we can get quite close to the main gate. There is a bus (well, tractor plus farm trailer with seats) that runs around the site regularly throughout the day. There are plenty of seats or benches in front of organs, and around food stands, so you don’t need to be on your feet all day. If you wish to bring a small folding seat, make sure it’s something easy for you to carry and fits in the bus with you. We have the whole day at Dorset, so you can pace yourself very gently and still see all the highlights. If you need a little help, Dorset organizes a supply of electric buggies to be available at the site. These are provided by a third party, the “wheels for freedom” charity, and you must book with them well before the fair. Their GDSF booking details are at, or you can phone 01202 661770 (11am to 3pm UK time). This scheme always sells out early, so make sure you book even earlier – the lines normally open on 1st April. It’s your responsibility to book this service if you want it.  

Finally, why not start thinking now about making this a longer trip than just the Amica part? Come early, stay longer. There’s a great deal to do, many places to see. Don’t fall into the common “if it’s Tuesday this must be Italy” trap – pick a few places and see them properly! I hope we’ll have some suggestions of side-trips hosted by the mechanical music community here in the UK. For the general tourist, there’s a lifetime’s supply of sights to see in London. For instance, at the time we’re travelling, the Proms series of classical concerts are running, one or two concerts from major orchestras each day for two months. Further afield, it’s the Edinburgh Festival in the run-up to our tour.

 Julian Dyer

5 Richmond Rise, Wokingham, RG41 3XH, UK.




©2018 AMICA International
Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors' Association,
a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

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