LANTERNISTS and LANTERN SHOWS.

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1847 Hall and Plush  1867 Dooner’s   Pantecnatheca
1848 Henry Kesterton 1867+ Captain Alexander  Louttit
1853 Lillywhite’s Dissolving Views 1868 Nicholas John Caire
1854 Mr E.L. Hall 1878 J.C. Johnson --  Advertising S.A.
1856 Mr J. Watts at the Pantheon 1879 W. Shakespeare -- the Zulu War
1856+ Rev. G.B. Mudie 1883 Howard  Haywood
1864 Seymour & Gordons Callopticon 1890s Robert Beveridge  Adamson
1865+ Temperance and "The Bottle" 1900 Rev. W.J. Bussell of the Etona.
1866 Rev. J. B. McCure Miscellaneous Paragraphs.
Queens Theatre
Whites Rooms

(Now under construction -- J.B. Austin, Professor Pepper, Professor Miller, Barnveld, Winwood, Alexander Brothers, Carne & Mehennett, Robson, and others.)

 

Queens Theatre, Adelaide.

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Adelaide’s earliest known public magic lantern show was presented at the New Queen’s Theatre in 1847 by Adelaide daguerreotypist Robert Hall. The theatre was built at the southern end of Gilles Arcade, between Currie and Waymouth Streets, and in recent years the remains of the building and its site have been the subject of much archaeological attention..

On 30 May 1840 the S.A. Register reported -- ‘New Theatre and Public Rooms. One of our most successful and enterprising colonists, Mr Solomon of Currie Street, is about to make an important addition to Gilles Arcade, by the erection of a spacious and handsome edifice which he intends to fit up as a theatre and which at the same time may be used for public assemblies, meetings, and large dinner parties. The estimated cost of the buildings we hear will exceed three thousand pounds.’ The paper stated that Mr Solomon would provide a venue where colonists and their families could enjoy their ‘legitimate drama’without being subjected to the ‘rudeness and interruptions’ that was occurring at the usual places of public entertainment.

The opening of the theatre was set for 11 January 1841, and in his advertisement the manager, Mr J. Lazar, gave a desription of the building which he said was built and decorated along the lines of the most popular theatres in London. ‘The Dress Circle is splendidly and commodiously fitted up with private boxes, a saloon as a promenade, and a retiring room for ladies… and it is particularly requested that ladies and gentlemen will appear in full dress. The Upper Circle is constructed upon a principle commanding an entire view of the stage, and replete with every accommodation. The Pit (capable of containing nearly 700 persons) will be found equal in comfort and convenience to the other parts of the theatre.’ At the bottom of his advertisement Mr Lazar warned that ‘in order that no rregular conduct may take place in any part of the Theatre, an efficient police will be in attendance, and children in arms will not be admitted.’ By the end of the month the Register was able to report that the theatre was being conducted in an orderly manner, better in fact than that seen at many of the principal theatres of England.

Five months later the South Australian reported the success of Mr Solomon’s initiative. It said that after hearing so many complaints about the colony having no proper place of amusement, Mr Solomon had ‘single-handed commenced and completed the erection of a building capable of containing from twelve to thirteen hundred persons. He thus gave employment for upwards of twelve months to nearly fifty mechanics and laborers, at an outlay of 100 weekly. Everything conducive to the comfort and convenience of the public was adopted… The audience part of the theatre has been kept strictly select in every instance, and the least approximation to noise or distrurbance instantly quelled; the proprietor himself at all times vigilantly attending to the decorum and comfort of the audience.’

The theatre was closed for a few months during winter and several alterations and inprovements made. The audience area was redecorated, the candles removed and the theatre ‘lighted by splendid bracket lamps.’ In October 1842 Mr Moorhouse delivered a lecture on Comparative Anatomy which was ‘illustrated by diagrams’, which sometimes meant magic lantern slides projected on a sheet. Some years later the building was renovated and altered, and opened as the New Queen’s Theatre.

 

Below: Typical nineteenth century coloured slides. The slide at the right is a mechanical slide in which the operator, by moving a lever, could give realistic motion to the girl on the swing.
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Whites Rooms, Adelaide

White’s Assembly Rooms were situated on the eastern side of King William Street, Adelaide, between Grenfell Street and Pirie Street. They were built for Mr George White by Mr Farr, and were in use by July 1856. The rooms were used for panoramas, dioramas, dissolving view exhibitions as well as dances and public meetings.

The front building consisted of sets of chambers which had been arranged in the same style as the ‘splendid buildings of this kind’ which had recently been erected in London, Liverpool and Manchester. ‘The entrance passes through the centre of the building, and has a circular roof, supported by a series of massive arches, the effect of which is very imposing. This central passage communicates laterally with the staircases at the back in connection with the chambers, and directly with the entrance to the grand hall [which] is the main feature of the buildings. The solidity of this structure, especially of the roof, is far more apparent internally than externally. Its clear dimensions are 81 feet by 41, and 30 feet high. The roof is partly circular, which not only improves the aspect, but tends materially to increase the acoustic properties of the building. This quality is more immediately evident when but a few persons are present; the echo then is very fine. The style of the windows, as seen from the interior, accords with the generally effective style of the architecture, and the occasional decorations are well finished – those of the roof consisting of concentric circles of foliage. Equal care has been employed in the erection of the orchestral platform which, in its ornamental embellishment, is as yet unfinished. It is intended to partition off that portion of the hall, extending laterally from the orchestra to the sides, now curtained off for the convenience of the singers and performers.’ ( Adelaide Times, 24 July 1856.)

Waiting and retiring rooms for both ladies and gentlemen were provided, and the floors of these rooms and of the main hall were raised several feet above ground level. On the evenings the hall was being used for concerts or other entertainments the front of the building was illuminated with ‘the finest lamp in town.’

By 1881 the name of the building had been changed to Garner’s Theatre, and a few years later it was known as Garner’s Assembly Rooms.

 

Below: Illustration of an early nineteenth century magic lantern show. Note how the lantern projects the hand-painted slide onto the sheet as a disc of light. 

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Hall & Plush  (1847)

On 20 April 1847 the South Australian reported that ‘Messrs Hall and Plush intend giving another exhibition of their dissolving views &c., this evening, in Mr Joshua's large room, and from the general satisfaction we heard expressed at their first exhibition, we have no doubt they will have a full house.’ The promoters of the new exhibition appear to have been Robert Hall and Thomas Hall Plush, a painter, gilder and artist of Morphett Street, Adelaide, who had arrived in South Australia in 1839. The ‘first exhibition’ that the newspaper referred to could have been the astronomical lecture that Robert Hall and Cooper Searle delivered the previous February (below).

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In a follow up item three days later the South Australian reported: ‘We attended Messrs Hall and Plush’s exhibition of dissolving views and phantasmagoria, most of which are exceedingly creditable and, judging from the uproarious laughter and applause of the younger audience, they were exactly adapted to the taste of the juveniles. The house was crowded, and many fashionables attended.’

However, a report of another exhibition they held in November was less favourable: ‘On Wednesday evening we were present at the exhibition of Messrs Hall and Plush’s dissolving views, &c. The exhibition was a sort of melange, consisting of optical illusions, phantasmagoria, fun, and harlequinade. The dissolving views were numerous and diversified, but contained too few representations of local objects. Some of the personal figures bordered upon indelicacy; so much so, as, in our opinion, to deter parents from treating their children to an otherwise harmless amusement; and it struck us that the dance of death savoured too much of profanity… It is due to Messrs Hall and Plush to state that they devoted the proceeds of their former exhibition to the fund for the relief of British destitution; and a prudential change in their exhibition, with an improvement in the mechanical arrangement, would make it worthy of general patronage.’

In May 1849 an advertisement in the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register offered for sale, by auction, ‘That same apparatus used by Messrs Hall and Plush about twelve and fifteen months ago at Mr Joshua’s Rooms and at the Theatre. The Phantasmagoria lantern is one of Carpenter’s Improved, brass adjusting tube, patent lamp, etc. The subjects are: Orrery, twelve slides, with books; views &c., twenty slides; humorous moveable subjects, thirteen slides.’

 

Henry  Kesterton   (1848)

On 8 January 1848 the Register reported that a gentleman who had arrived on the Derwent had brought with him ‘an oxygen and hydrogen microscope of extraordinary power, nearly ninety feet … and a very superior apparatus for astronomical and other scientific illustration, and a splendid collection of dissolving views.’ The ‘microscope’ would have been a limelight-powered magic lantern which could project slides a distance of ninety feet, and the apparatus for astronomical illustrations an orrery. As soon as suitable premises could be found, the report said, ‘the Adelaide folk’ would be able to enjoy ‘the greatest scientific treat ever exhibited in the southern hemisphere.’

The enterprising gentleman was Henry Kesterton, who advertised that his ‘Grand Illustrated Lecture on the Heavens and the Earth’ would take place at the New Exchange Rooms in King William Street on the 17, 19 and 21 January, ‘on a scale of magnificence never before introduced into the colonies.’ The lecture, he said, would be followed by ‘a much admired Dissolving Diorama comprising 2,000 square feet of illuminated scenery, alternating with the new-discovered and wonderful optical instrument, The Chromatrope,’ accompanied by performances on the Seraphine, ‘as is usual on such occasions in London.’ The seraphine was an early form of the harmonium.

A report of the first lecture published in the South Australian played down the problems with the apparatus and the disagreement between Kesterton and James Allen, the man he had hired to give the lecture while he was projecting the slides. ‘The apparatus, from having been now opened for the first time, did not work so well as could have been desired, but some of the views were excellent, and the chromatropes at the end were charming.

The report in the Register was more detailed and more critical. Handbills had stated that the astronomical lecture would be followed by ‘a beautiful exhibition of 20 pictures and six exquisite Chromatropes.’ The reporter said that, ‘Relying upon the magnificent promises of the handbills, we anticipated a feast equal, at least, in value to the half-crown entrance money… We regret to have to announce that the result did not realize our expectations… Our readers may judge of our disappointment when not one of the promised diagrams was exhibited. It is true there was something like a globe with a ship sailing round it; but we saw nothing of the the promised atmosphere, with its clouds, &c.; but we saw what perhaps escaped the attention of the younger portion of the audience, as it was without and beneath the focus of the lens, that there was a tower attached to the globe, with right lines drawn from its summit and base to the surface to enable the lecturer to explain the theory of the rotundity of the earth; but the fact is, the diagram was upside down, and no attempt was made to explain it or rectify the blunder. This, and a lame diagram said to represent the solar system, and another of eclipses, likewise unexplained by the lecturer, closed the astronomical exhibition, and a more beggarly account of empty boxes can hardly be imagined.

‘If the audience were disappointed at the astronomical portion of the exhibition, they had little more reason to be pleased with the dissolving views. They were evidently well-painted, at least as far as we could judge through the mist in which they were enveloped; but the light was variable and uncertain as the gas was not properly manipulated. A good, steady argand burner of one-fourth the power would have shewn them to far greater advantage. The artificial fireworks (Chromatrope) would have been exceedingly beautiful, if properly exhibited.’

While the Register report said that Mr Allen’s lecture had been ‘neatly and prettily written and well delivered’ and ‘teemed with interesting anecdote’ it had been too short, and Mr Allen had failed to describe each slide ‘as it appeared on the disc.’ As for the owner of the apparatus, the reporter said that ‘we feel it to be our duty to shew Mr Kesterton that an attempt to foist a lame rehearsal on the public as an exhibition worthy of their patronage will not be tolerated here any more than in the mother-country; and that if he pretends to cater for the public amusement, he must take the trouble to perfect himself in the management of the apparatus.’

The differences which arose between Allen and Kesterton as a result of the failure of the first lecture were publicly aired through letters published in the Adelaide papers. One problem arose through Kesterton instructing Allen to restrict his lecture to twenty minutes or the gas for his lantern would run out. Allen objected, saying it was not enough time, and said he would supply his own lamp which could be manipulated by his son, but when Allen’s lamp would not work the responsibility for projection was thrown back on Kesterton at short notice.

Kesterton must have solved his problems, as he advertised a second series of three lectures in ‘The New Buildings (New Exchange) adjoining Mr Neale’s Auction Mart in King William Street.’

 

Mr Lillywhite’s Dissolving Views (1853)

William Lillywhite arrived in South Australia from England in 1852, and in 1853 was screening dissolving views in Adelaide. In August that year he advertised ‘a splendid collection of dissolving views, accompanied with music.’ The views were shown at the Exchange Room in the city, with admission 5 shillings, children under twelve years of age half price.

The first exhibition of Mr Lillywhite’s views was described by the Register. ‘The representations included pleasing landscapes, magnificent architecture, grotesque figures, and other features of a grave, fantastic, and startling character. The spectators were particularly delighted with some very amusing representations of the extaordinary means successfully resorted to by two Bengalees, who entrapped a ferocious tiger, which had scented them out whilst taking their noontide repast.

A few days later the Register reported that the chromatrope and dissolving views used by Mr Lillywhite had been recently imported from England, and were the same as those exhibited at he famous London Polytechnic. Those who delight in magic transformations and illusive imagery will find a new treat in these recent developments of modern science; and to the young they will present an unalloyed pleasure and much innocent gratification.’

The Register did express the hope that Mr Lillywhite would reduce his admission charges so that more people could enjoy his exhibition. His views showed scenery in different seasons, from summer sun to winter snow, and his dissolving apparatus projected architectural scenes which were transformed slowly from the light of day to dim and massive grandeur by mellow moonlight.’ He also showedthe famous "ratcatcher" mechanical slide, in which a sleeping man appeared to have an endless line of rats jumping into his open mouth (see illustration below). Mr Lillywhite later added more slides to the grotesque part of his programme which, of course, delighted the younger members of the audience. One feature was referred to as the "boar’s head incident" in which a celebrated cook, Mr Soyer, completely lost all countenance.

Below: The Man Eating Rats mechanical slide became a classic and was produced in various designs. The main glass slide was stationary and depicted a man asleep in bed with his mouth open. By turning the handle at the right a second circular glass slide with a circle of rats drawn on it was rotated to create the impression that rats were leaping off the bed into the mans mouth. Moving the lever at the left up and down moved a third glass which made the mans jaw move so that he then appeared to be eating the rats. Mr William Lillywhite screened the "ratcatcher" slide during his lantern exhibitions in Adelaide in 1853.

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The Register said, We have no hesitation in repeating our warm recommendation of this amusement as innocent and interesting to the young, while it may be made instrumental in conveying much valuable information to those of riper years.’

When Mr Lillywhite presented his views at the Port Adelaide Theatre later in the month his admission charge had been reduced to four shillings for the Dress Circle, two shillings for the Pit, children half price. He also showed his views in the large rooms’ at the Dover Castle and Queen’s Head hotels at North Adelaide, the Freemason’s Tavern in Pirie Street, Prince of Wales Hotel in Angas Street, Thistle Inn at Waymouth Street, Rose Inn at Sturt Street, and by the time he was showing at the Sir John Barleycorn in Rundle Street in October, which had a private entrance at the side, his charge had fallen to two shillings, with children under twelve still at half price.

It seems Mr Lillywhite may have abandoned showing slides for living to take up a career in teaching. In November 1853 he was conducting singing lessons at the Christchurch schoolroom with more than 30 members of both sexes in his class, mainly adults, and due to his system of teaching and the intelligible manner in which (he) presents his lessons to his pupils,’ rapid progress was guaranteed.

In the same month an advertisement for dissolving views to be shown at Gawler Town included the note, The proprietor of that interesting and ingenious series of dissolving views so recently exhibited in Adelaide has generously placed the same in the hands of a committee appointed to promote the building of a public schoolroom at Gawler Hills, near the Onetree Hill, all profits from the above exhibition to be applied to that laudable object.’

 

Mr E.L. Hall  (1854)

On 5 January 1854 Mr E.L. Hall arrived at Port Adelaide from Hobart Town on the 340-ton barque Timandra, and less than a week later was ready to exbibit his ‘Dissolving Views, Chromatropes, and Phantasmagoric Illusions’ at the Freemason’s Tavern in Adelaide. Each lantern view, he said, would be ‘represented on a disc twelve feet in diameter.’ According to the Hobart Town newspapers Mr Hall’s exhibition had been well received at that place.

Mr Hall’s last public showing was advertised for January 18th, after which he intended using the lantern for private gatherings only. ‘Parents and guardians are requested not to lose this opportunity of affording their juveniles a little recreation, this being the last exhibition in public, the proprietor intending to keep the apparatus for the use of private families, who can be waited on at their residences with the above paraphernalia on reasonable terms.’

However, business may not have been very brisk, as his equipment was advertised for sale a week later by the auctioneers Samson, Wicksteed & Co. ‘Mr Hall’s Dissolving View apparatus complete, with all the glasses, slides, brass fittings, stand and recent improvements (by the best London makers) and nearly new. Also, one of Carpenter and Wesley’s best magic lanterns complete with slides, &c.’ An earlier advertisement said his ‘glasses’ amounted to ‘100 changes in all.’

 

Mr J. Watts  at the Pantheon (1856)

In May 1856 the Register informed the public that a magic lantern of ‘immense power’ had been imported into the colony, together with the usual views of the ‘old country’, which it said were supposed to be executed ‘in a masterly style of art.’

The exhibition of the lantern was advertised under the name of Mr J. Watts, and was to take place over three nights at the Pantheon in King William Street, Adelaide. ‘An exhibition will take place by the aid of a Magic Lantern of Great Power, consisting of dissolving views of the chief public buildings of London, with short historical notices of each; Landscapes, moonlight views, and splendid chromatropes and comicalities. The whole to be accompanied by appropriate music.’

The Register gave the exhibition a favourable report, saying the dissolving views were ‘managed most artistically,’ that ‘the power of the magic lantern was often startling,’ and that the ‘moonlight views seem to fascinate the beholders.’ The reporter also referred to the ‘added splendour of the chromatropes.’ ‘The music was reported to be appropriate, and the ‘subsidiary arrangements attested the tact and industry of Mr J. Watts.’ The exhibition was so successful it was advertised to appear on another three nights the following week, when a large and ‘respectable’ audience was expected.

From subsequent news items it seems as though Mr Watts may have been the owner or lessee of the Pantheon, not necessarily the owner of the magic lantern, as about a week later an advertisement said, ‘C.W. Steward will exhibit the dissolving views and phantasmagoria at the large room of the Bath Hotel, Norwood.’ In June the exhibition was advertised to be repeated by Mr C.W. Stewart (d?) at the East Torrens Institute, Kensington, for the benefit of that Institute. Two hundred people were present at the first exhibition in the large room in William Street, Kensington, which was not as well managed as it could have been. Improvements, including a larger orchestra, were promised for the screenings to follow during the week.

 

Rev. G.D.  Mudie  (1856-61)

In August 1856 Rev. G.D. Mudie gave two lectures on astronomy and natural history in St. George’s schoolroom at Gawler. The lectures were illustrated with ‘some beautiful astronomical diagrams and representations of subjects in natural history shown by a powerful magic lantern.’

Rev. Mudie gave a similar lecture at Nuriootpa in July 1858. ‘Assisted by the magic lantern the lecturer made his theme plain and interesting -- so plain that almost the dullest could comprehend it, and so interesting that there was not much fear of the youngest boy or girl present going to sleep. Numerous illuminated diagrams of the starry heavens, eclipses of the sun and moon, and telescopic views of the planets were displayed. The lecturer brought forward quite a novel idea -- at least novel to those present -- which was that the sun’s rays contained no heat, but that those rays drew forth the heat from the bodies on which they shone.’

In September 1858 Rev. Mudie repeated his lecture on astronomy at Gawler where the lecture room was filled by people anxious to ‘indulge in this intellectual treat.’ By way of contrast it was noted that down the road, at the saloon, only eight people were listening to the Empire Minstrels give an entirely different type of entertainment. Unfortunately, not all present at Rev. Mudie’s lecture were there to listen and learn. ‘During the lecture considerable interruption was given by a number of lads whose parents, instead of training them up with something like decency, have them scarcely more than half civilized. Taking advantage of the darkness necessary for the use of the lantern, these lads indulged in the most noisy and disgraceful conduct.’

Rev. Mudie’s lecture at Salisbury in October 1860 was of a religious nature, his ‘powerful magic lantern’ being used to screen about 50 slides of ‘Israel and the Holy Land.’ The room was crowded to capacity and heard Rev. Mudie trace ‘ the wanderings of the "favoured people of God" from Egypt through the Red Sea, their establishment as a nation at Mount Sinai, and their journeyings in the wilderness until their settlement in the promised land.’

At Riverton, in September 1861, Rev. Mudie’s subject was ‘London, its History, Antiquities, Illustrious Men, etc.’ In addition to showing his slides of London, Rev. Mudie used his lantern to screen some chromatropes to show ‘the wonderful effects of light and colours.’ Three months later he gave a two hour illustrated lecture on ‘Israel in Egypt, the Wilderness and the Holy Land’ in the schoolroom adjoining the High Street Congregational chapel at Kensington.

 

Seymour and Gordon’s Callopticon (1864).

Messrs Seymour and Gordon arrived in Adelaide from Victoria in October 1864 with a programme of dissolving views which they called The Callopticon. Their advertisement in the Register claimed it had ‘some of the most wonderful optical effects ever produced in any of the Australian Colonies… The Callopticon has been exhibited in Melbourne, Sydney, New Zealand and Geelong within the last 18 months, and has been attended with immense success and crowded houses.’ However, they do not appear to have enjoyed similar success during their stay in Adelaide. Their ‘extraordinary attraction,’ said to consist of photographic views of Europe which ‘are, or ought to be, correct,’ was booked to appear for two nights in the Port Adelaide Town Hall.

A report of the Callopticon’s opening night said, ‘The audience was not very large, and consisted entirely of occupants of the pit and gallery who, being unable to appreciate the nature of the entertainment, created such confusion that it was with great difficulty that the exhibition was gone through. The views were good, but the descriptive part was rendered inaudible by the noise.’

 

Temperance and "The Bottle." (1865+)

The temperance movement used magic lantern exhibitions to inform the public of the evils of alcohol. A typical exhibition was given in the Temperance Hall at North Adelaide on 2 May 1865 where Mr W. Fraser used a powerful lantern to show scenes from the Scriptures, landscapes, and a variety of comic pictures which ‘evoked great merriment from the youthful portion of the audience.’ However, the more serious part of the show was a series of slides showing Cruikshank’s celebrated pictures of ‘The Bottle’. These depicted ‘the progress of drunkeness from the period when the bottle is produced in the happy home for the first time, and the husband induces the wife, though very reluctantly, to take a drop. This "first drop" brings on a liking for more, till the husband is discharged by his employers on account of his intemperate habits, and the family is reduced to beggary. But still the drink must be had, and at length the husband kills his wife with the "bottle", and brings himself into the Lunatic Asylum.’ The story ends with the children being forced onto the streets where they are ‘plunged into vice and misery.’ The evening concluded with a short address by Mr G.W. Cole, M.P., who referred to the evil effects of ‘The Bottle’ followed by ‘an earnest appeal to parents to keep the intoxicating cup from their children, it being the first drop from which all after misery would spring.’

In July 1872, to ‘assist distressed chapels and encourage Bands of Hope in maintaining temperance principles’ Mr J.T. Headdey of Port Road, Beverly, gave a series of magic lantern shows in the Primitive Methodist chapels at Strathalbyn, Bletchley and Port Victor. To reinforce Cruikshank’s plates on ‘The Bottle’ and The Gin Palace he added more slides of a similar nature – Rippon Gill’s Progress of Intemperance; The Ruined Farmer; The Teetotal Farmer; The Whiskey Demon or the Awful Effects of Strong Drink; and the Contrast or Blessings of Temperance. To provide relief from the main theme for the evening he showed slides of Wombwell’s Menagerie, the Smuggler’s Cave, a Storm at Sea, the Public Buildings of London and a few chromotropes and comic scenes. To exhibit his slides Mr Headdey used two ‘powerful phantasmagoria lanterns with dissolving apparatus.’

When Rev. J.B. McCure (see above) was delivering lantern lectures in 1866 he also included the Temperance message in some of his exhibitions. The report of his lecture in White’s Rooms, Adelaide, said he included ‘some representations showing the phases in a drunkard’s career as well as the degrading effects of intemperance upon his progeny.’ The scenes showing the insidious way in which drunkenness stole over its victim, the reporter said, ‘were good exemplifications of the temperance principle,’ and he was sure the message would have been found very agreeable to those with teetotal tastes. When he took his lantern to the mining districts of Moonta and Wallaroo he included his slides of Cruickshank’s pictures of ‘The Bottle, or Drunkard’s Career’ in his programme.

 

Reverend J. B. Mc Cure  (1866)

The Rev. John Bunyan McCure arrived in Adelaide from Sydney in August 1866 hoping to raise money to help pay off the debt on the Baptist Chapel at Castlereagh Street, Sydney. He brought with him a dissolving view apparatus which was powered by an oxy-calcium limelight. After his slides were screened in White’s Room, King William Street, Adelaide, the Register described some of the slides and the dissolving effects. One dissolving effect mentioned consisted of an artistic representation of the rock and harbour of Gilbraltar being gradually replaced by a statuary representation of a hunter defending his family from a ravenous beast, the significance of which was no doubt obvious to the audience then, but not to us today.

One view ‘was a brilliant moonlight representation of Somerset House on the Thames, with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance. The splendour of the scene, with the Lord Mayor’s barge glittering in the moonbeams, and in the distance Southwark bridge, and numerous small craft in the bosom of the river, evoked an enthusiastic burst of applause from the admiring spectators.’ There was a series on the Pilgrim’s Progress, some scriptural representations, and a view of Mount Tabor which was ‘cleverly dissolved into Lake Tiberias. All the scenes were depicted with lifelike fidelity and power, and were received with considerable applause. The entertainment was brought to a close by the exhibition of the kaleidoscope for the amusement of the children present.

When Rev. McCure advertised his show was to be held in the Adelaide Town Hall, he reduced his prices so that schools could be present. On the night the hall was packed, three-quarters of the audience being children, who ‘were in the highest spirits, and while waiting the commencement of the entertainment gave vent to their glee by striking up some sacred melodies with variations. Through the room being overcrowded, and the platform not raised but a few feet from the floor, many, especially those in the background, were unable to obtain a proper view of the scenes.’ Included in the views was a set with a strong moral lesson for the children. They showed ‘the phases in a drunkard’s career as well as the degrading effect of intemperance upon his progeny.’ The dissolving effects were apparently quite striking, as the reporter made several references to the way the picture on one slide appeared as another faded away.

Rev McCure gave an exhibition of his dissolving views at the Lunatic Asylum in August 1866, where it was seen by three-quarters of the inmates. ‘The dissolving views were given by the aid of the oxy-calcium light, which throws a large and powerful light upon a screen erected in one of the wards of the institution, and the proceedings were enlivened by some brilliant performances on the pianoforte by the daughter of one of the officers of the Asylum.

Many of Rev. McCure’s exhibitions included slides with a strong moral message, usually the importance of temperance. One show at the Town Hall in Adelaide was billed as ‘The Drunkard’s Home and the Drunkard’s Children,’ which were to be shown ‘Life-like and Life-size.’ The number of views shown in a night appears to have been about two hundred. When he took his lanterns to Gawler in September, Rev. McCure drew capacity crowds, and one reporter was particularly impressed by the pictures of clasical statuary which, he said, ‘stand out on the disc like real sculpture, and are scarcely to be distinguished from their marble originals.’ The views of statuary were photographs, whereas many of the other views of scenery were representations, not necessarily accurate, hand-painted by an artist.

Rev. McCure went to Kapunda and Wallaroo, where a correspondent made the following observation: ‘The light by which the views are shown is the oxy-calcium light, which we are given to understand is exceedingly soft to the vision, while at the same time it is capable of all kinds of variety to suit the exhibitor’s taste.’ After seeing Rev. McCure’s show at Wallaroo one member of the audience wrote to the Wallaroo Times saying that while he enjoyed the pictures he did not agree with the Reverend’s comments about human sacrifice among the Druids, and gave the reasaons why he thought Rev. McCure was wrong in his description. While on the Peninsula Rev. McCure preached the Gospel at the Oddfellow’s Hall at Kadina.

 

Charles Dooner’s Pantechnatheca

Charles Dooner showed his ‘Pantecnatheca of about 40 dissolving views at Penola in May 1867, and at Mount Gambier and Port McDonnell the following month. By the end of May Dooners travelling show had reached Meadows where the number of views had grown to about one hundred, and included subjects to suit all tastes -- sacred, historical, landscapes, zoological and comical.

Unlike some touring magic lantern shows, Charles Dooner stopped at many small places that, in the 1860s, could barely justify the title of township, and in most cases he set up his lanterns in the only suitable building, the local schoolroom. After leaving Meadows he called at Yankalilla, Cape Jervis, Rapid Bay, Bald Hills, Dairy Flat, Inman Valley, Finnis Vale, Victor Harbor, Port Elliot and Goolwa.

By July Dooner was at Kanmantoo showing showing his views in the schoolroom adjoining the Primitive Methodist Chapel. When he reached Oakbank he was able to use the townships Institute building, and the correspondent at that place said that the views were ‘more like paintings than scenes generally shown at exhibitions of this kind.’

A few days after his visit to Tungkillo the local correspondent for the Register wrote, ‘The exhibition, which is of a superior kind, comprised scenes in Palestine and British and Continental views. The explanations given by the exhibitor were interesting and instructive, as well as amusing. The comic views exhibited towards the close were fully appreciated by the younger portion of the audience. I understand Mr Dooner contemplates visiting Adelaide at an early date, having lately come overland from Victoria.

The correspondent from Gilleston gave a clue as to the type of apparatus Dooner was using. The very superior views, developed by two powerful lanterns, so cleverly manipulated as to merit the appellation of dissolving views.’ Charles Dooner was using two lanterns, probably side by side, producing the dissolving effect by lowering the light on one lantern as he increased it on the other, or by operating a mechanical device fitted in front of the lenses.

Dooner continued his tour of the country, calling at Mount Torrens, Williamstown, Lyndoch, and Gawler, where he was able to exhibit in the new St George’s schoolroom. After leaving Gawler he headed north to Freeling and the towns along the road to Burra, where he showed his views in the Mechanic’s Institute and the Redruth schoolroom. The Salisbury correspondent helped his readers with the pronunciation of the name of Dooner’s show by writing, The entertainment is announced in the bills as Dooner’s Grand Pan-Tecna-theca.’

By October 1867 Charles Dooner was heading for Oakbank and Nairne, possibly on his way back to Victoria. However, he was back at Inman Valley in May 1869 where he showed his views in the small schoolroom. The attendance was very large, the room being crammed, some of the young men even seating themselves on the tie beams.’ The following evening his lanterns were set up in the Dairy Flat schoolroom.

The Sellick’s Hill report noted that Mr Dooner was well patronised as he had promised a share of his takings to the School Improvement Fund. About 60 people,besides youngsters,’ were present and saw some new slides that had been added since his last visit -- the Abyssinian war, Prince Alfred’s Royal Visit and a panorama of Melbourne. He had an audience of about 180 people at Coromandel Valley, and at Clarendon, his third visit to the town, 90 people saw his views in Mr Dailey’s schoolroom, where the programme lasted two and one half hours.

When Dooner’s Pantecnatheca was shown at Meadows in 1867 it had about one hundred slides. When it arrived there in 1869 it had two hundred. The views, about 200, are first class, and the exhibition affords instruction and amusement to old and young. The lover of antiquities is gratified by views of some of those magnificent ruins that adorn the old country. English, Irish, Scotch, Swiss, Asiatics and Africans have their minds refreshed with scenes of their native lands, while the comicalities are most fun-provoking. The changes were effected so quickly, and the explanations of various scenes were so much to the point, that the interest was kept up throughout the evening. The representations of the Abyssinian war and panorama of Melbourne are deserving of special notice.’

Charles Dooner ventured into the city in July, showing in the Magill schoolroom, Norwood Town Hall, and Mr Nesbit’s Educational Institution, and possibly other venues as well. He was touring north of Adelaide in November 1869. At this point there is a gap in my records, but as he was at Mount Gambier again in March 1871, he may have gone to Victoria and was now on his way back into South Australia. Dooner now had slides representing the European war between France and Prussia, and his show still had its original name, Pantecnatheca.

When Dooner reached Strathalbyn in May it was noted that he had a novelty mechanical slide known as the Chinese Fireworks, which was also given a mention when he was at Meadows later in the month.  In October the Mintaro correspondent of the Northern Argus reported, The finale, which consisted of what Mr Dooner termed Chinese fireworks, was worth the entrance money alone.’

Until Charles Dooner reached Maclaren Vale in June 1871 every country correspondent had praised his performances and not one negative word had been written about him. However, the Maclaren Vale correspondent for the Register had this to say. ‘Maclaren Vale, 28 June 1871. This quiet neighbourhood was visited the other evening by Mr Dooner with his Exhibition. His plan of announcing the performance is by beating a big drum violently, and to add discord to such hideous sound some young men or boys began beating old tins. This so exasperated Mr and Mrs Dooner that the lady so far forgot herself as to bring out a revolver, and using violent language, pointed it at the head of one musician and threatened to blow his brains out, Mr Dooner at the same time threatening. A disgraceful scene was the result, and the affair is to be brought before the Bench at Willunga. The Dooners carry three revolvers with them – a matter which ought to be known.’

In 1874 Dooner's Pantecnatheca was touring north of Adelaide -- Clare in July, Gladstone in September, and Moonta in October, where he apparently introduced some local photographic slides. The dissolving pictures were good, and the photographs were admired, especially one of the Wesleyan Church recently erected, which view was put on the screen in good style.’

Twelve months later Dooner was back at Clare, and as was his usual practice, he arrived with some new views -- Dr Livingstone’s expedition in Africa, the wreck of the Gothengurg, and the burning of the Cospatrick. He showed these at Strathalbyn in January 1876, and at Kingston in the South East in February, where it was reported, Dooner’s unpronounceable  entertainment showed here to very good houses. I can only conjecture that the patronage it received is more owing to its suitability for juvenile audiences than to any enlightenment a grown person can get out of it, but the taste of some places in the way of amusement is, to say the least, peculiar.’

A report of his Kingston exhibition, in Mount Gambier’s South East Ensign, said, ‘Dooner’s Pantecnatheca exhibited on Monday and Tuesday nights at the Mechanics’ Institute. Several new views were introduced, amongst others one of your Mount Gambier streets and your celebrated Blue Lake, neither of which "your own" recognised, although no stranger to that locality. Defective vision, I suppose. Our country cousins made themselves conspicuous again by their talking and striking matches to light their pipes, just at a time when some of the best views were shown. I will supply their names the next time they transgress.’

Further south a few weeks later, at Millicent for the first time, Dooner’s show was screened in Bevilaqua’s store and received a much better review. Although noting the fact that the meaning of the word Pantecnatheca was not known to the local experts, the reporter went on to describe the views which, he said, were both interesting and instructive. Viewing it on the whole, the exhibition is of a style calculated to impart excellent ideas of scenes and places known only by report to the generality of Australians.’

In 1877 Dooner was at Meadows, Farrell Flat, Hoyleton, Georgetown, Yarcowie, and Burra, where it was said the views comprise scenes of current interest and subjects from the adjacent colonies. They are well painted, and being shown by a powerful limelight, a sight of them conveys an excellent idea of the subject illustrated.’ He was well received at Virginia in February 1878, being described as an old favourite... The excellence and vividness of the pictures, illustrating the disastrous war between Russia and Turkey, and the fluent and impressive style in which they were described by Mr Dooner, kept the audience in rapt attention for a considerable time, and I am quite sure they were thoroughly appreciated by all present, juveniles inclusive, which speaks well of the exhibition.’

Dawsley also appreciated Charles Dooner’s usual graphic and homely style’of presentation, and it was also noted that when the entourage arrived in the town the juveniles as usual lost no time in making their tour of inspection of the camp.’ From Dawsley the show went to Strathalbyn and Woodchester, where the entertainment lasted two hours and on some occasions the applause was deafening,’ then to Macclesfield, Goolwa, Port Elliot and Port Victor.

Lan_doon.jpg (19362 bytes) Left: Charles Dooner’s advert in the Northern Argus for 6 August 1878. The Argus said, The views were magnificent, the variety was immense, and the audience appeared highly delighted with the exhibition. The only regret was that Mr Dooner’s stay in the town was only for one night.’ The spelling of Charles Dooner’s show varied, sometimes tecna’, sometimes techna.’

After showing at Clare in August 1871 Charles Dooner moved on to Mintaro, Watervale, Yacka and Koolunga, where the Northern Argus correspondent gave a resume of the war slides. The pictures of the Russians driving horses over the Danube were considered very pretty, as was also the engagement with two frigates, and the following -- Russian torpedo boats escorting provisions through the Dardanelles, Russian gigantic battery before Plevna, wild boars, dogs, and birds feasting on dead bodies, survivors of the Cospatrick, &c.’

By the time Dooner's Pantecnatheca reached Strathalbyn in April 1879 some slides depicting scenes and incidents associated with the Kelly gang of bushrangers had been added to the programme. The proprietor’s advertising promised two hours of amazement, wonderment and delight, conveying instruction and amusement to old and young that cannot be obtained from any other source. The pictures are really well painted, and a faithful representation of what they purport to be.’ This last reference to painted pictures suggests they were painted on glass by an artist, and that they were not hand coloured photographic slides. To conclude with mechanical effects. Appropriate music in attendance.’ The slides of the Kelly gang were described by the Northern Argus when the show reached Clare in July -- the encounters with the police, the sticking up of a hawker, the sticking up of the bank at Euroa, and their many other daring exploits.

Charles Dooner was still entertaining people living in South Australian country areas in the early 1880s. The report of his showing at Virginia in May 1881 called his programme a phantasmagoria, and by the time he reached Strathalbyn and Macclesfield in June 1882 he had changed its name from the difficult to pronounce Pantecnatheca to Panorama. The last reference to Dooner that I have is for his Panorama being presented at Clare in October 1882.

A reference to Charles Dooner in the Advertiser in January 1878 states that he had been an exhibitor of panoramic representations in these Australian provinces for the last 17 years,’ that is, since 1861.

 

Captain Alexander Louttit of the ship St Vincent. (1867-71)

Captain Alexander Louttit was master of the 900-ton ship St. Vincent which carried passengers and cargo between London and Port Adelaide. To provide entertainment for his passengers on the long sea voyage from England to South Australia in the latter part of 1867 Captain Louttit acquired a magic lantern, and on his arrival at Port Adelaide he used it to raise money for local charities. In January 1868 his magic lantern was used at a musical entertainment given in White’s Rooms, King William Street, Adelaide, in aid of the building fund of St Paul’s Church in Pulteney Street. The Captain’s dissolving views occupied the second part of the programme, and consisted of a series of slides representing scenes on what was known as the Overland Route from England to India. He also showed the same views in the Port Adelaide Town Hall to help raise money for the Port Adelaide Sailor’s Home.

The Captain was back in Adelaide in December 1868 after a voyage of 79 days from London carrying both cargo and passengers, and brought with him a much more ‘elaborate apparatus’ than he had used on his previous visit, and a set of dissolving views which illustrated Tennyson’s poem Enoch Arden. He was quickly booked to show his dissolving views at the Town Hall, Port Adelaide, in aid of the Presbyterian Church at the Port, and at the Pirie Street Lecture Hall to assist the Draper Memorial Church building fund.

The Register published a report of the screening at the Pirie Steet Lecture Hall. After giving an outline of the sad story of Enoch Arden, the newspaper said: ‘The most prominent features of the poem were illustrated by gigantic dissolving views projected on a screen reaching nearly to the roof of the building and broad in proportion. The views were remarkably clear and distinct, and were very successfully managed. Captain Louttit’s rendering of the poem was that of an appreciative admirer of the Poet Laureate, the true spirit and meaning of the author being caught and intelligently portrayed. The proceedings were enlivened at intervals by the excellent harmonium instrumentation of Mr W.B. Chinner.’

The Captain’s exhibition at the Port Town Hall was a mixed success. The hall was filled but unfortunately the Captain’s voice was not strong enough for such a large room, and only those seated close by him could hear his rendition of the poem. However, the views were well received, and the evening was filled out with some amateur singing by both ladies and gentlemen, and the Volunteer Artillery Band played musical pieces at the opening and close of the programme.

During his stay in Port Adelaide in November-December 1869 Captain Louttit’s Enoch Arden was shown in White’s Assembly Rooms in aid of the St. Andrew’s Sabbath School Library, and he later delivered a lecture on The Law of Storms to a large audience in the Port Adelaide Town Hall to aid the Sailors’ Home Fund, where brilliantly lit views were shown to illustrate his subject, followed by a series of comic pictures.

Captain Louttit returned to South Australia again in January 1871. This time he travelled further afield, presenting his Enoch Arden programme at Port Victor (Victor Harbor) in aid of the Newland Memorial Church building fund. An item in the Southern Argus said that his slides would be shown by means of an oxy-calcium light, and that special trucks would be put on the horse-drawn railway to convey passengers from Goolwa, Middleton and Port Elliot to Port Victor. The church normally held an annual picnic on Granite Island to raise funds for their building, but on this occasion it departed from its usual practice and invited Captain Louttit to Port Victor for a change. When the Captain repeated his programme at the Port Adelaide Town Hall, in aid of the Free Industrial school, he concluded his series of slides by showing a picture of his ship, the St. Vincent, in full sail.

 

Nicholas John Caire (1868).

Nicholas Caire was a photographer who also acted as a magic lantern operator and lecturer. For about eighteen months before leaving South Australia to begin what was to become a distinguished career as a photographer in Victoria, Caire appears to have devoted much of his time to preparing and presenting lantern lectures.

In September 1868 the Rev. H.H. Merriman gave a lecture on ‘The Dark Deeds of the Dark Ages’ in White’s Rooms, King William Street, which was supported by ‘a number of very beautiful dissolving views, which had been specially prepared for the purpose by Mr N.J. Caire, of Hindley Street.’ In December Rev. J. Maughan delivered a lecture on ‘Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tidal Waves’ in the new council chamber at Aldinga, where the dissolving view apparatus was operated by Nicholas Caire, ‘whose valuable aid tended greatly to lessen the lecturer’s heavy work.’

In March 1869 Caire exhibited the ‘Dark Deeds in the Dark Ages’ programme in the Norwood Town Hall, then took it to a number of country centres, where he was both lecturer and lantern operator. In June he was at Gawler, Kapunda, Clare and Spring Farm, and at Meadows in July. The lecture referred to the ‘early persecution of the Church, and to some of the horrible tortures to which Christians were subject in the reigns of Henry VIII and Queen Mary.’ By the time Caire reached Clarendon in July he had added ‘A Tour Through Switzerland’ and ‘Phrenology’ to his programme, exhibiting busts, model heads and the skulls of aborigines to explain the ‘science’ of phrenology. The ‘Ascent of Mont Blanc’ was shown at Bugle Ranges in August, and ‘Doctor Livingstone’s Travels in Africa’ at Woodside in September.

Nicholas Caire appears to have spent several weeks at Mount Gambier. On 23 November 1869 he advertised his ‘Grand Polytechnical Entertainment’ in the Mount Gambier Standard, which later gave a report on the programme: ‘After exhibiting a number of excellent dissolving views by means of a pair of powerful magic lanterns, Mr Caire proceeded with a lecture descriptive of the ascent of Mont Blanc. Views illustrative of the various stages of the tourist’s progress were shown ... after which a large number of comic and other interesting pictures were exhibited. "Shocks" [electric] were administered to those of the audience who desired it by means of a galvanic battery, and the magnesium light having been exhibited, the entertainment was brought to a close.’

In the last week of December Caire delivered his ‘Dark Deeds of the Dark Ages’ in the Mount Gambier Institute Hall, which may have been his last show in South Australia before leaving for Melbourne, where he married Louisa Masters on 10 March 1870. On the marriage certificate his occupation was given as hairdresser and photographer, his present address as Talbot, and the usual address of both himself and his bride was given as Adelaide, South Australia.

Nicholas Caire’s subsequent career as a photographer in Victoria has been well documented, and a list of references is given on page 126 of Joan Kerr’s Dictionary of Australian Artists.

 

Mr J.C. Johnson -- Advertising South Australia Overseas (1878).

In 1877 the Advertiser urged the Government to engage the services of Mr Batchelder, a panorama entrepeneur, to display views of South Australia in the United Kingdom and on the Continent to give a ‘more vivid idea than can be conveyed by verbal descriptions of the scenery, resources, and industrial progress of this colony.’ However, nothing was done, so the Advertiser renewed its appeal in January 1878 in support of an offer made to the Government by Charles Dooner.

The Advertiser reported that Dooner’s apparatus was on a smaller scale than Batchelder’s, and that ‘the pictures will be painted photographs, and can be shown in a room 18 feet square, or in a much smaller space if necessary. This will be of great advantage, as it will make practicable their exhibition in small towns and villages where proper accommodation could not be procured for a monster panorama. Mr Dooner’s terms, as he has explained them to us, are moderate, and he will exhibit wherever the Government or the Agent-General may require within the limits of Great Britain and Ireland. In connection with his present occupation he has been a great traveller through the United Kingdom, and knows the manners, habits, and even the dialects of different counties’

However, a week later the Advertiser reported that Mr J.C. Johnson of the Register had already submitted a similar proposal to the Government in December 1877. Johnson’s proposal, said the Advertiser, was to ‘procure a good set of Chadburn’s or Highley’s lanterns for dissolving views, furnished with the oxy-hydrogen light apparatus, which can be obtained at a reasonable sum now, and exhibit prepared photographs of the views. The cost would be very moderate, and the whole apparatus could be easily transported from one part of the United Kingdom to another. The views were to include Adelaide, Port Adelaide with the shipping, public buildings, factories, farms, some of the prettiest villages and townships, sheep stations, general scenery, farming, pastoral, and manufacturing operations. Maps also would be displayed, and pamphlets and handbooks distributed. Mr Johnson reasonably considered himself, from knowledge of the colony and aptitude as a speaker, qualified to give the accompanying lectures, while his press experience would necessarily be of great advantage in carrying out such a service. The Government, however, took no notice of his offer except a formal acknowledgement.’ (S.A. Advertiser, 8 & 16 January 1878)

 

Mr W. Shakespeare and the Zulu War (1879)

An advertisement in the Amusements column of the Register for 6 December 1879 informed the public that they should ‘Coruscate with Electric Effulgence.’ Readers who consulted their dictionaries learnt that to coruscate was ‘to emit vivid flashes of light; to sparkle; to glitter;’ and that effulgence meant ‘a flood of light; great brightness.’ The advertisement then informed readers that ‘An original Electric-Light Panorama of Eighty Views’ of the great Zulu War would be opening at White’s Rooms on Monday, December 8th. A further attraction was to be the Zulu War Dance by ‘an original Kaffir’ from Natal in South Africa, with a lecture on the war by Mr D.C.F. Moodie, Esq. The titles of the eighty views were listed in detail and price of admission ranged from one to five shillings.

The slides to be exhibited were painted from the drawings of Mr Melton Prior, an artist for the Illustrated London News who had represented that journal in Zululand. Mr Moodie was well known as the author of a book on the battles in South Africa and was to act as an interpreter for the Kaffir native.

Although posters around the town had promised a programme presented ‘in a refined, unique, and praiseworthy style,’ the opening night was a dismal failure.When the gas lights in the hall were turned down the lecturer was left in the dark and could not read his manuscript, and the ‘so-called electric light’ was also ‘an utter failure’.

‘The views presented on a screen arranged across the stage were undoubtedly admirably painted, but the light thrown on them was so faint that only persons gifted with very strong vision could distinguish the details. The back seats objected to this and raised a medley of cat-calls, dingo howls, hisses, and sarcastic remarks, not at all calculated to reassure the lecturer …’ After offering an apology the management announced that the entrance money would be refunded and the audience left the hall. The failure was attributed to the electric light, ‘which not only showed very dimly, but the apparatus connected therewith kept up a constant fizzing which created somewhat uneasy feelings in persons sitting near it.’

On Tuesday night the operator, Mr W. Shakespeare, achieved satisfactory results by operating his apparatus with an oxy-hydrogen limelight instead of the electric light, and on Wednesday night there was a full scale rehearsal. Finally, when everything seemed to be in order the management advertised a Grand Reopening for Thursday evening.

However, after the ‘grand reopening’ the Observer reported: ‘Fatality and failure seem to dog the footsteps of the Zulu war… A somewhat undecided and wholly sceptical audience assembled at White’s Rooms on Thursday evening to see the panorama of the Zulu war, hear the lucid explanations of the views by Mr Moodie, and have the Zulu war dance depicted in all its muscular vigour by a "semi-civilized savage" hailing under the unpoetical name of "Jim;" but it was not to be.’ Instead the excellent views were spoiled because Mr Moodie had withdrawn his services due to ‘some misunderstanding on the subject of hard cash’ and had taken the Zulu with him. There was no war dance and the explanations of the views given by volunteer lecturers were ‘slightly vague’, with several scenes being ‘presented in rapid succession and in solemn silence.’ The programme finished early, at 9 pm, and the audience had their tickets returned for use on a future date. But because carriages had been ordered for half-past 10, the advertised closing time, some gathered around outside where they ‘indulged in some sincere but unmusical noises expressive of their disapprobation.’

However, after two disastrous attempts, a successful showing was achieved on Friday night. Mr Moodie acted as lecturer, "Jim" the Zulu performed his war dance and, with only ‘two or three exceptions,’ the views were ‘excellently shown.’ Thus encouraged the management’s advertisement on Saturday morning was headed: ‘Victory Ours At Last,’ followed by the rather flowery quotation,‘I was borne on tides of people crowding unto my triumph.’

The Register agreed that the show had improved, reporting some days later that ‘the views were presented very clearly by an oxy-hydrogen light and apparatus, under the able management of Mr W. Shakespeare, and proved decidedly well worth seeing, as they were most artistically executed and clearly shown..’

An advertisement in the Register at the end of December said: ‘Fortune – Right Man – Zulu Panorama – Half or Whole Interest. By Tender until Wednesday, 31st inst. Ready for travelling. Highest not necessarily accepted. Address R.H.M., Advertiser office.’ By March 1880 the Zulu War Diorama was in the hands of a Mr Gale and exhibited in the Clare Town Hall where the local newspaper reported that ‘the scenes were highly interesting, being large and well brought out by the powerful light.’

 

Howard  Haywood  (1883)

In January 1883 the Gawler Board of Advice invited the children in their school district to a free screening of dissolving views, to be held in the Gawler Institute Hall. The programme was described as a pictorial panorama of Australia and New Zealand.

A report on the evening’s entertainment said, ‘These views were exhibited by Mr Haywood, who has been travelling through South Australia during the last twelve months. All parts of New Zealand showing the snow-capped ranges, lakes, rivers, hot springs, boiling cauldrons, Maoris, etc., were exhibited, followed by beautiful scenes in Victoria and South Australia, which were much enjoyed by the young people, who mustered up in large numbers, there being nearly 400 each evening. The descriptive lecture was given by Mr Haywood, who treated his subject well and afforded both instruction and amusement.’

Four months later Howard Haywood gave the first exhibition by limelight of his collection of South Australian views at Whinham College. ‘Good judgement has been displayed in the selection of the subjects, which embrace scenes in all parts of the colony, from Mount Gambier to Government Gums, besides a number showing all the principal public buildings, and some of the grandest of colonial mansions. There are also views of some streets of Adelaide, and the products of the country in the shape of loads of wool and wheat. Mr Haywood explained that the display of that evening was more of an experimental character, and that his arrangements were not perfect, consequently the views did not show out as distinctly as they otherwise would, but he hoped to have everything in perfect order by next week, when he would give another exhibition.’

The advertising for Mr Haywood’s next lecture, at the Stow Lecture Hall, said it would be delivered ‘in the presence of His Excellency the Governor. The views which Mr Haywood has taken are very fine, and they represent our chief industries - pastoral, agricultural and mineral - our principal public works and buildings, and our best landscapes. The selections are made with good judgement.’

In June 1883 the Register reported, ‘Mr Howard Haywood recently gave his pictorial lecture entertainment "South Australia," before the scholars at the Prince Alfred College. There was a large audience, and the views exhibited were much admired. At the close (the headmaster) complimented Mr Haywood upon the success of his lecture, and trusted he would not leave the colony without giving the scholars lectures upon the other colonies he (Mr Haywood) had visited, as it was an easy mode of teaching geography much to be encouraged.’ A few days later he repeated his lecture on South Australia before a large audience in the Port Adelaide Congregational Schoolroom.

 

Robert Beveridge Adamson.

Robert Adamson (1864-1939) was the son of astronomical photographer David Beveridge Adamson, who was a member of agricultural implement making firm of Adamson Brothers. He was a keen amateur photographer and by 1889 had become a member of the South Australian Photographic Society. In 1891 he exhibited ‘a very interesting collection of lunar and landscape photos’ which were no doubt taken through his father’s telescope.

He was also a skilful lantern operator, and was at Kapunda in December 1891 with the ‘South Australian Sunday-School Union’s most powerful oxy-hydrogen limelight dissolving view apparatus’ projecting slides of photographs A.W. Dobbie had made on his trip through Europe. For many years Adamson was the official lanternist for the Photographic Society, was treasurer from 1894 to 1897, and assistant scretary and librarian in 1899. A report of the Society’s March 1897 meeting said, ‘Mr R.B. Adamson showed a magnificent new biunial optical lantern which he has imported for use in limelight exhibitions. The apparatus, which is provided with numerous accessories, is up to date in every respect, and it excited much admiration.’

Robert Adamson read a paper on Lunar photography at the November 1897 monthly meeting: ‘Mr R.B. Adamson read a paper entitled "Photographing the Moon." After describing the causes of the peculiar features of the lunar landscape as accepted by the authorities of the day the apparatus necessary for taking lunar pictures was shown and explained. A large number of direct photographic views of the moon, and several types of the lunar landscape were shown by the limelight lantern, and the nature and extent of the various craters, mountains, chasms and other prominent features of the Queen of the Night were lucidly described. Interest in the paper was added to by the showing of some beautiful astronomical slides by Mr Andrew Scott, B.A.’ At the Society’s fifth annual conversazione and exhibition of work held in the Victoria Hall in September 1898 he projected slides onto a 16-foot screen.

An unusual demonstration took place at the Society’s March 1899 meeting where ‘the principal subject for discussion was "Stereoscopic Lantern Projection," which was illustrated and explained by Mr A.W. Dobbie, assisted by Lanternist, Mr R.B. Adamson. By means of the most powerful bi-unial limelight lantern two lantern slides made in the usual way, representing each half of a stereoscopic negative, were projected and superposed on the screen. Each pair of slides was provided with coloured glass screens to tint the light which projected them. Thus the slide of one half of a negative was tinted a red shade and the slide of the other half green. By viewing the combined coloured pictures, superposed as nearly as possible on the screen through a pair of glasses of corresponding shades, with which every member of the audience was provided, a good stereoscopic effect was obtained. Where the slides depicting the left-hand half of the stereoscopic picture was projected with a red light and the right-hand half with a green light, a green screen for the left eye and a red for the right enabled each eye to receive only the single picture intended for it, in accordance with stereoscopic principles. Several of the numerous pictorial subjects displayed rendered remarkably good effects. This being the first time an audience here has been privileged to view stereoscopic pictures on a lantern screen, the exhibition was all the more appreciated.’

 

Rev. W.J. Bussell of the Etona.

Rev. William John Bussell, later Archdeacon Bussell, came from a distinguished Western Australian family, was educated at St Peter’s College, Adelaide, ordained in 1877, and began his clerical at Mount Gambier. He was later Rector at Strathalbyn.

From 1894 to 1904 he was missionary chaplain in charge of the riverboat-church Etona, which serviced the new village settlements along the banks of the River Murray. At that time the river had no weirs and locks and was subject to periods of seasonal flooding and low water during dry spells.

The equipment on the Etona included a gramaphone, magic lantern and screen. In the nineteenth century magic lanterns were used for both entertainment and instruction, and the apparatus carried on the Etona was no doubt put to good use by Rev. Bussell.

On one occasion, in 1898, ‘the energetic navigator missioner Mr Bussell delighted the pupils of Tormore School by an exhibition of a number of photographic views of the Murray … Sets of lantern slides on many subjects can be purchased for money, but slides to picture forth the Murray can only be had for love, aided by patience and work. Many, if not all of the photographs were taken by Mr Bussell himself from the deck of the Etona under difficulties more easily imagined than overcome. The broad surface of Lake Alexandrina, the high cliffs of the ancient gorge, the treacherous snags, the shifting sandbars, the rows of village settlers houses, the trim fruit gardens all excited keen interest as they fell upon the magic screen.’

On a visit to New Residence in 1896 a service made up of magic lantern views with prayers, hymns and descriptive lecture had been arranged,and the villagers had prepared the pine and canvas village hall by lighting a large fire in it. But because the light of the fire was so bright the pictures could not be seen on the screen, so the service was held in the open air. It was a very cold night and the congregation was either standing or seated on stools and boxes, and when the service was over they happily carried the lantern and screen back to the Etona.

After leaving the river Rev. Bussell married Bishop Harmer’s sister, who described her husband as ‘tireless in energy, continually on the move, the friend of all, especially of the very poor … naturally cheery with a tenacious memory for faces and family histories.’ He died on 6 June 1936.

 

Miscellaneous Paragraphs.

1849. -- More than 100 children were present at the examination of the children at St. John’s Sunday School. ‘After reading a portion of the New Testament they were asked questions on the subject which they had been reading; the correctness and rapidity with which they were answered surprised the examiners, and did much credit to their several teachers... On Monday the young folks were treated with tea and cake at the school, when a balloon made an ascent, and fireworks and a magic lantern added mightily to their enjoyment.’

 

1850. -- ‘A half-clerical, half-draper looking personage delivered what he facetiously termed a Lecture upon the Bible, with Egyptian illustrations, at the Exchange Room, King William Street. About one hundred persons were present, who listened with the most exemplary patience to one of the dryest orations we ever remember to have heard. A variety of rude figures of human beings, asses, etc., composed the illustrations, but the light was so imperfect that, with the exception of the primary donkey, these interesting objects were nearly invisible to the audience... From the unmistakeable methodistical twang with which the whole was delivered, we concluded that the lecturer belonged to the Bagdad mob; at any rate his labours had precisely the somniferous effect which attends Holy Billy’s efforts -- that of setting the auditory snoring. We left about nine o’clock, leaving the orator in a truly Egyptian fog of assertion and deduction as to the specific gravity of the bilge-water in Noah's Ark. For a lecturer this gentleman has not a single qualification, his forte is evidently cackling in a conventicle...’ (Mercury and Sporting Chronicle, 30 March 1850)

 

1853. -- Annual Festival to the Children of St John’s Sunday School held in the Pulteney Street school-room. ‘The room was gaily decorated with flags and banners of the school, and some beautiful bouquets of flowers tastefully arranged. The children took tea (and) after justice had been done to the good cheer, the room was cleared, and preparations made for a display of Mr James Allen’s beautiful magic lantern, the largest in the colony. The slides consisted of celestial bodies, views in London and foreign countries, and some highly amusing comic characters, among which Mrs Judy, our old friend Punch’s wife, excited particularly the laughter of the young people. This was followed by a display of fireworks in the acre belonging to the school. A great crowd collected, but excellent order was preserved by two policemen, whose services had been kindly lent for the occasion. A fire-balloon was also inflated, but unfortunately after rising as high as the roof of the building, it caught one of the corners, and was immediately enveloped in flames. We are sorry to say that Mr G.W. Hawkes, the superintendent of the school, and the indefatigable caterer for the amusement of the children, met with an accident while firing a mine. It exploded prematurely, from some imperfection of the fuse, and stunned him.’ (S.A. Register, 30 March 1853).

 

1856. -- Advertisement. ‘London Hotel, Flinders Street. A Powerful Magic Lantern recently imported with upwards of Two Hundred Views will be exhibited for the first time at the above hotel, this evening, to conclude with the chromatrope.  Gustavus Schadowsky.’  (S.A. Register, 9 June 1856).

 

1857. -- Mr Bennett Clay. ‘In this age of wonders the appearance in Adelaide of one of those mysterious persons called, in days of yore, "wizards," need excite no surprise. Mr Bennett Clay, the professor of "the black and midnight arts of wizard sorcery," made his first appearance last evening at White’s Rooms, before a respectable though not very numerous audience. The first part of the entertainment consisted of a great variety of tricks in legerdemain, and of still more extraordinary deceptions by which the audience were almost left to doubt the evidence of their senses. Cards, rings, watches, gold and silver coins, handkerchiefs, and other articles were made to appear or disappear at the will of the presiding necromancer.

Some of the tricks are not new to the public of Adelaide, and in one or two instances the performer failed in effecting what he had promised. The evening’s entertainment was concluded with an exhibition of a series of optical views projected on an illuminated disc, and which included some beautiful specimens of the chromatrope.’ (S.A. Register, 9 June 1857).

 

1857. -- Lecture on Chemistry in the Schoolroom of the Freeman Street Chapel. ‘Mr J.A. Bruce delivered a very interesting and instructive lecture on chemistry to the pupils of the Adelaide Educational Institute conducted by Mr J.L. Young... The lecturer illustrated his discourse by a variety of scientific experiments and concluded with the exhibition of the oxy-hydrogen or lime-light.’ (S.A. Register, 13 June 1857)
Note - The lecturer may have been demonstrating the power of the limelight, and may not have projected slides.

 

1858. -- The Public Examination of the Children of Mrs Chandler’s Licensed School at Clare. About twenty parents and guardians were present. ‘The number on the books is 45, of which 36 attended the examination. The questions on grammar, geography, and the first four rules of arithmetic were answered in a prompt and satisfactory manner. Four classes gave pleasing proof of their assiduity and advancement in reading. Six pupils read tales, essays, and extracts from the British poets very correctly. The specimens of embroidery and needlework gave satisfactory proof of the attention of Mrs Chandler and the aptitude and industry of the girls. The examination wound up with an exhibition of the magic lantern, to the great delight and amusement of the juveniles, to most of whom the exhibition was new.’ (S.A. Register, 29 October 1858)

 

1859. -- Mintaro Bazaar. As part of a fund raising effort in aid of the Mintaro Methodist mission-house the Reverend Colwell gave a lecture on natural history ‘illustrated by phantasmagoria exhibitions.’  (S.A. Register, 2 March 1859).

 

1859. -- Kooringa (Burra). Rev. Mr Colwell gave a lecture on the Celtic race in the Wesleyan Chapel. ‘After the lecture a series of phantasmagorical views were exhibited by the rev. gentleman in the adjoining schoolroom for the benefit of the mission-house, Mintaro. The lecture was exceedingly well attended, and the views of the magic lantern were highly applauded.’  (S.A. Register, 4 March 1859).

 

1859. -- Kooringa (Burra).  ‘Mr Gome delivered three lectures and exhibited his views with the magic lantern, dissolving views and chromatropes. The first lecture at the Mechanic’s Institute, the next at Mr Lamb’s, at Aberdeen, and the last at the Hotel. They were fairly well attended.’

 

1859. -- Mr Nesbit’s Lecture on Astronomy at Tanunda. ‘An interesting lecture on astronomy was delivered by Mr Nesbit, of Angaston, at the Tanunda Hotel. Beautiful views, produced by a phantasmagoric lantern, were exhibited of the solar system in motion, the several planets in succession, as they follow in their distances from the sun, from Mercury to Neptune, and of a number of nebulae undissolved and seen through telescopes of various powers. The plates representing the nebulae were of the lecturer’s own making, I understand, and were beautifully executed. Every view was explained by Mr Nesbit in a concise and popular manner. Mr Basedow rendered the explanations in German. Mr Nesbit afterwards exhibited a number of comical views, to the great delight of the juvenile portion of the audience.’  (S.A. Register, 17 October 1859).

1867. --  ‘The exhibition of Mr Lloyd’s magnificent magic lantern, in his schoolroom, was a great success. The room was well filled. Many of the views exhibited were of an amusing character, while some were very instructive -- such as the rotundity of the earth, the various phases of the moon with the diurnal rotation. The exhibition of a ship in a storm, wrecked and on fire, with the raft on which appeared the rescued, was very graphic. The Old and New Testament scenes were very beautiful, and were well calculated to instruct children in the manners, customs and habits and dress of the people in the East. We understand that it is Mr Lloyd’s intention to get the lime light for his future exhibitions, and if he succeeds they will be very attractive, as his views comprise many interesting subjects in science and art. At the close of the exhibition many of the juveniles received electric shocks from a galvanic battery, which created great amusement. ’(Wallaroo Times, 5 June 1867).
Rev. John Lloyd was a teacher and Welsh Congregational minister at Wallaroo. He also took portraits.

 

End.