THE NORTHERN ROUGH RIDERS
SCOTLAND'S PREMIERE WILD WEST REENACTMENT & LIVING HISTORY GROUP
BASED AT SCOTLAND'S ONLY   WILD WEST TOWN     

A Cup of Tea with Johnny B.
 
An interview with the founder of the Northern Rough Riders and owner of Tranquility Wild West Town

Please introduce yourself:
 
Howdy Pardners!  My name is Alistair Baranowski but you can call me JB. I'm the owner of Tranquility Wild West Town & founder of the Northern Rough Riders wild west re-enactment group. As the only permanent resident of the town I re-elect myself every year to the positions of Marshall & Mayor!
 
What did you do before founding the NRR and Tranquility?
 
I was a teacher for many years before becoming an agent for Royal Mail.
 
 
Where did you get the idea to create your own wild west town?
 
Ever since watching westerns in the cinema & on TV I've always been fascinated by the wild west. When the opportunity arose, I several times joined western re-enactment groups both in Scotland & England. Then, by happen chance, I discovered the existence of two replica wild west towns in the south of England called Deadwood & Laredo). That's when I concluded that it should be possible for me to establish a wild west town in Scotland. 
 
 
Once you decided to build the town, how did you know where to start?
 
I was advised by fellow westerners involved in those English wild west towns that your first building should be the largest & act as a kind of community centre where members & volunteers could relax after a hard days work..... so obviously the first building had to be the saloon!
 
 
What was your dream or vision for the town?
 
Tranquility would be a frontier town of the American Wild West just after the end of the Civil War. It would consist of 10 wooden buildings with perhaps one or two additional false facades. The buildings will be all down one side of the field leaving the other side for gunfights, round up games & for audiences to stand & watch events unfold before them. It will have a largely civilian population with a few drifters, Indians, gamblers, outlaws & soldiers etc passing through from time to time.
 
Tranquility is a place where wild west enthusiasts can dress up in their western gear in as near an authentic environment as we can manage, where we can meet to "chew the fat”, hopefully learn more about the Old West, test their skills in old west sports such as shooting, knife & axe throwing, horseshoe pitching, fastdraw, rehearse for upcoming events etc & socialise in the evenings around a campfire or around a card table inside the saloon. Additionally members from time to time will organise film making projects & shootouts in the woods.
Tranquility is a Wild West town, it is not a military outpost & we are not about re-enacting parts of the American Civil War, the Indian Wars or any other wars, nor is it about trying to portray some law enforcement agency like the Texas Rangers etc.
Tranquility will be a place where you should be able to enjoy the western hobby in all its glory. A place where legends can come alive! But this dream comes at a price……members are expected to help with the construction & maintenance of the town……..and with all those daily, mundane but necessary chores (just like in the real west) to help make it a pleasant place in which to work & play. If you think you can share this dream & would like to help turn it into reality then you’ll be made most welcome.
 
 
Where did the name Tranquility come from?
 
The name was inspirational! I'd been wondering what to call the town for a while, even asking for suggestions...... then one day when I was walking into the field with the foundations of the first building barely started it came to me ( as in a vision, you might say)!  It was one of those beautiful sunny summer days where everything was peaceful & calm, apart from the chirping of the birds. I thought to myself, there can only be one possible name for this town “Tranquility”! I good also see the funny side of choosing such a name.... when the bad guys enter & shoot up the peaceful town of Tranquility!
 
 
How were the NRR first formed and how did you choose the name?
 
It seemed a natural progression, having begun the building of the town, it was right to establish a re-enactment group. Several names were suggested but when someone came up with the name Rough Riders it resonated with me. I thought, historically there was an outfit called the Rough Riders under the command of Teddy Roosevelt, so to avoid any possible misunderstanding & considering our geographical location, I thought the name “Northern Rough Riders” would be sound.  
 
 
Tell us about your vision for the future of the NRR and tranquility?
 
I tend to make more use of spectacles these days as my vision is not so good. Consequently I would have to say that the future of the Tranquility & the NRR is pretty much up to the members themselves.
 
With your 10 year anniversary under your belt, what has been the highlight of the past 10 years?
 
Obviously the highlight has been to fulfil the dream! To complete the town, to constantly be able to improve things & build up the membership ( from 3 to almost 30).
 
Have NRR done anything special to commemorate the 10 year anniversary?
 
No they haven't! Perhaps during one of our long weekends we might treat ourselves to a 10th anniversary cake & have a wee celebration, but I'll leave that up to the members.
 
 
Who can book the NRR and what can you offer people?
 
Theoretically anyone can book the NRR for their special event. All we ask is plenty of advance notice &  a donation towards Club funds to help cover expenses etc
 
What can we offer? We can probably provide the following package & try to be flexible/amend its requirements to suit the needs of your event given sufficient notice: We can provide several gunfight / old west sketches varying from 5-15 mins duration each. We can provide a short talk/ demonstration in the use of the weapons, maybe 15 mins. We may allow specially selected members of the audience an opportunity to use the weapons ( under supervision) for some fastdraw fun ( we usually add this on at the end of each gunfight) eg the birthday boy, in the case of a birthday party.  We could take along some games esp aimed at children eg horseshoe pitching, bean bag throwing. We could also bring along a small static display centred around a campfire though it might be necessary to get someone to watch over the display while we are involved in the gunfights.
Additionally, it might be possible to hold your special event at Tranquility, depending on circumstances.....talk to us about your needs.
 
 
If I want to join the NRR what do I need to do?
All you have to do is complete the application form attached together with the fee & a recent passport type photo of yourself & we'll get back in touch with you asap
 
 
Tell us a little about the blank fire guns you use?
 
None of them are capable of firing live rounds. But these guns are not toys & have to be handled carefully. A blast from one of these if held close to someone when fired could potentially cause injury. The noise close up can be deafening also. All new members will be given weapons safety handling instruction & rules.
The choice of blank fire guns available currently in the UK is quite limited. Member own their own guns, mainly replica Colt .45 Peacemakers, Army & Navy Colts, & Remingtons. Some members also have Winchester type blank fire rifles.
 
 
Even though you only use blank firing guns for theatrical purposes, what message do you have for anyone who might be apprehensive about joining NRR because they may be afraid of guns?
 
Don't be afraid!  A gun is like a car....if used wisely it's a wonderful tool & provides hours of fun for millions of people. Acting responsibly & safely will become second nature.
 
 
It seems to me that the NRR are all about escapism, friendship, fun and entertainment, would you agree?
 
Definitely..... but there's room for historians, researchers etc too!
 
 
What would you say to anyone who might like to join the NRR but is concerned about a disability?
 
Don't be put off! Talk to us & you might be pleasantly surprised at how many disabled people can take part in this hobby.
 
 
What makes a good cowboy alias and how do you choose one?
 
Pass!  Actually sometimes a person has a particular characteristic or trait which can help choosing an alias easy eg Gabby
I may only be available on and off, i have a busy family life, what level of commitment is required for NRR members.
If what you've read has stirred your passion you'll make time for the hobby!  However all new members are probationers until they have attended at least one round up & one other event / meeting during their first year of membership.
 
 
Happy Trails!