Monday, March 17, 2014

Down on the farm

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare at huge, grotesque models of extinct animals? When people ask me why I am willing to wade through hordes of screaming rugrats in order to gaze upon such eyesores, I only have to point them to the famous poem that Wordsworth didn't write. And with that in mind, Niroot and I recently took a trip down to Godstone Farm in Surrey (that's in the south east of England, for all you forrins) to check out their newly-purchased menagerie of monstrosities.

(All photos by me, unless they're by Niroot, in which case they're marked 'NP'.)

I've got a strong urge to fly...but I got nowhere to fly to

According to an article in the local rag, the models were purchased second-hand from "a closed-down attraction in Berkshire". Happily, this means they are of a distinctly retro bent and feature a number of sculpts that we've seen before on LITC, along with a few welcome surprises. The above Pteranodon (or 'Pterosaurus', as the farm would have it) is a quite stunning example of fibreglass grotesquerie, even if Living Dinosaurs' model sadly means that it isn't the strangest pterosaur model I've ever seen. Still, its super stretch-o-neck and screaming gob are quite something to behold. I do like that houses are visible in this shot - it gives the whole thing a rather Rodan feel.

The Pteranoderp is new to me, but this rather unfortunate fellow seems to follow me wherever I go - it's a mid-century-style Scolosaurus, complete with stumpy, spike-tipped tail, squishy fatness and gormless expression. The psychedelic mushrooms in the above shot aren't ever explained, and would appear to be a remnant from a previous attraction - nevertheless, they add a fantastically surreal touch to proceedings, evoking yet more memories of Blackgang Chine.

Here we see Niroot posing as moodily as he can against a backdrop featuring alpacas, a pretty hideous dinosaur model, and a sign with a photograph of a toy on it. 'Pterosaurus' aside, most of the facts presented on the (plentiful) signs are factually correct, even if they crib illustrations from some odd places. The Triceratops is another model that's popped up hither and thither, although nowhere near as often as my old friend (and obvious head-swap)...

...the forehead-horned gigantor Styracosaurus-thing!

Really, it's quite astonishing how many of these are out there. This one's seen better days, although I understand it took a bit of a battering in the winter storms we had. Here's hoping they'll have the old timer looking as bad as new very soon.

The final second-hand model in the set is this boring old hairy heffalump. It's livened up by still more psychedelic mushrooms and a terrifying tusk deformity. (OK, so it's probably just a painting error. I can't help but imagine them painting one side incorrectly, thinking 'Oh shit!', and then painting the other side to match. 'Hey, nobody will notice...')


To pad out their collection, it seems that Godstone Farm purchased a set of smaller, newer models. The above Stegosaurus has had his feet buried in the mud by his grandchildren while he was asleep, and is now struggling to move - hence the furious expression.


Nearby sits a curious frog on a set of painted lilypads. What's it doing there? I have no idea, but again, the eccentricity tickles me. Although if it's eccentricity you're after... can't top a JP-esque 'raptor' model with only two fingers, peering out from within an admittedly quite impressive bower. This peculiar creation is labelled 'Tyrannosaurus' (no doubt 'cos of the missing fingers), and is also to be found...

...nestling in a seriously oversized egg (and among some speakers). Got to love those demented, slit pupil eyes. Close by, the mounted head of an 'adult' provides an amusing photo opportunity (as modelled below). Why, with the tooth row extending all the way under the orbit, one might be inclined to think that this theropod is of a basal, Early Jurassic lineage, perhaps related to the Dilophosauridae in some way. Or it might just be pop-culture tosh. Whatever.


If one is to tire of the fibreglass lunacy, there are plenty of Real Dinosaurs to be had on the farm. My favourites are the rheas, even if they spend far too much time grazing, and nowhere near enough time showing off their crazy ratite flexi-necks. I love me some rhea neck.

Helmeted guinea fowl and crazy mop-headed chicken breeds, together at last!
There are a particularly large number of chickens (makes sense, I suppose), with a wide variety of breeds on show. The farm's fondness for kippen might explain the following sign:

Although on the other hand, they might have just been looking for an excuse to use that image. Good grief. This will lead to the destruction of a great many bureaus, I feel.

So, yes, the dinosaurs are goofy. But is the attraction overall any good? Of course it is - there's a reason that the car park fills to the brim every weekend. With a great many opportunities to get close to farm animals, this is a fantastic place to give children an education in both natural history and the origins of their Happy Meal. Even for adults, there's the chance to get acquainted with some more unusual domestic animal breeds, including some lovely ducks, geese, and - of course - BLOODY CHICKENS. Naturally, it does depend on whether you give two shakes of a cornified fleshy appendage about domesticated animals - but why wouldn't you? They're fascinating too.

And on that note, I'll leave you with this picture of Niroot that I couldn't squeeze in anywhere else. With apologies for the nuclear glare.


  1. It didn't occur to me that the mammoth's tusks might have simply been a painting error. But if so, I'm puzzled by apparently two definite sets of 'ridges' where the tusks are supposed to emerge.

    Readers, here is a picture of Marc also posed next to the height-measuring brachiosaur, so you can see its full length.

  2. Nice Pink Floyd reference on a very not-nice pterosaur!

  3. Ah, bless! I just love retro Jabbathehutosaurs. They're my dinosaurs.

  4. Strange... I noticed that the awful 'pterosaurus' model is pretty much exactly the same model as this model, at the otway fly treetop walk in Victoria, Australia:

    (I took that photograph when I went there in December 2013)

  5. I like the swan geese. They always kind of looked like little Brachiosauruses to me.

  6. I like the swan geese. They always kind of looked like little Brachiosauruses to me.

  7. Looks like the only good dinos there were those charming birdies


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