ANY TOPICS RELATED to WAR MEMORIALS, THEIR HISTORY and PLACE in the MODERN WORLD
Victorian Optical Entertainments
A talk or seminar for students of art history, media, film studies and visual sciences
and groups interested in social history, photography, cinema and the Victorians.
Since the earliest times, artists and scientists have tried to capture real life
(movement and perspective) through art and mechanical devices. The Victorians used
the new science of optics to create perspective machines, persistence-of-vision
devices, panoramic scenes, three-dimensional imagery and moving pictures in large
scale theatrical extravaganzas and children’s toys.
I have collected optical antiques for forty years and presented authentic Victorian
magic lantern shows, on a professional basis, for the last twenty. I work with museums;
TV companies; academia; festivals; U3As and special interest groups. In addition
to my lantern slide shows, I now offer a talk or seminar on the Victorian optical
entertainments (peepshows; transformation views; dioramas; panoramas; zoetropes;
stereoscopes; magic lanterns; phantasmagoria shows and much more) that led to the
invention of cinema and the plethora of visual entertainments we enjoy today.
One hour talk - a light-touch, illustrated meander through the history of optical
entertainments from cave art to the birth of the movies in 1895, with practical
demonstrations and the opportunity to see (and play with) Victorian optical devices.
Half day seminar - a broader, deeper examination of the subject.
“A talk, an experience, an adventure even, that took one back to a pre-celluloid
era, giving an intriguing glimpse into the visual entertainment our great grandparents
enjoyed. Andrew's depth of knowledge and obvious enthusiasm guaranteed an enthralling
presentation. Historical devices and optical artefacts from his collection brought
additional life to the story and revealed the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Victorian
entertainers and showmen.” Alan Wiseman, Burnley & District U3A.
“The show was very informative and entertaining. Students and staff alike enjoyed
Andrew’s informative presentation and being able to use some of the items on show.
It really helped join the dots of the relationship between the pre-cursors of photography,
cinema and where we are now with inventions like the ipad.” Matthew Andrew, School
of Arts and Media, University of Salford.
“Andrew led us through the fascinating development of pre-cinema visual entertainment
- described by our members as ‘delightful’ ,’wonderful’, ‘unique’ and ‘just the most
unusual and interesting presentation I’ve seen in years’, followed by an opportunity
to ‘look at and marvel over’ a wide range of original optical devices. ‘I had no
idea there were so many’.” Peter Scurfield, Chairman, Wilmslow U3A.
Explore this forgotten world and experience the visual wonders enjoyed by our Victorian
ancestors. For further information or to discuss a particular event, project or course,
please contact me, Andrew Gill, on 01706 227328 or email me at email@example.com
Talks currently offered to local societies and organisations
Updated June 2015
Dr Michael (Mike) Winstanley
Retired Senior Lecturer in Social and Regional History, Lancaster University
firstname.lastname@example.org (preferably) or email@example.com 015242 21277
These are talks I have given to local societies and groups across Lancashire and
Cumbria. All are based on original research and all, bar two, use illustrations
from the North West.
I am always researching and working other subjects up; please ask for further details.
Lord Burghley and maps of Lancashire: an Elizabethan mystery
Discusses two of the earliest maps of the county which include names of the gentry
and some enigmatic crosses by some of the names.
Was Shakespeare in Lancashire? The strange case of John Cottom of St Michael’s on
Wyre, Stratford schoolmaster.
A critical re-examination of the evidence that the young William Shakespeare stayed
at Houghton Tower in the early 1580s, introduced to Catholics in the county by the
Stratford schoolmaster, John Cottom, who hailed from St Michaels on Wyre.
Edward Baines and the History of Lancashire (1836)
The first scholarly (4 volume) history of the county with detailed parish histories.
Who was Baines? How did he write such a work in an era without local archives and
libraries? The people who assisted him, including the young Edwin Butterworth of
Oldham who visited every parish. Who supplied the illustrations?
Artists and Prints
Lancashire AND/OR Cumbria Illustrated: early 19th century prints (including local
I can offer this for Lancashire or Cumbria or both. It illustrates the counties
from the profusion of prints which appeared in the early decades of the 19th century
and discusses the artists behind them why so many were produced at that period and
what they can tell us about life in the region at the time.
Thomas Allom (1804-1872): artist and architect
Not a household name today but once renowned for his work as an artist, architect
and draughtsman. This looks at his some of his nearly 200 published prints of Lancashire
and Cumbria made in the 1830s (many for sale today in antique shops and on the web)
and his fascinating life and work as an artist and architect.
Markets and Shops
Markets to Supermarkets: 200 years of shopping:…
Looks at the development of markets, shops, chain stores, co-ops and supermarkets
over the last 200 years, focusing in particular on the North West’s distinctive developments.
Can be tailored to different parts of the region
A history of Lancaster’s street and covered markets and their place in the town.
Lonsdale and the West Indies
For Tortola: Quakers, (Lonsdale or Lancaster) merchants and West Indies c.1750-1850
This explores some of the remarkable trading, personal and religious connections
between the Morecambe Bay area and the tiny, often neglected but important Caribbean
Virgin Islands. It expands on the context for a book on Abram, a Lancaster-built
ship named after a plantation owner which sailed to the islands and which later became
an arctic whaler! M Winstanley and R David, The West Indies and the Arctic in the
Age of Sail: Voyages of Abram 1802-1862 (CNWRS Lancaster University 2013)
The Lune Valley and the West Indies
An exploration of the multi-faceted connections between farming and yeomen families
in the Lune Valley and Britain’s sugar colonies in the West Indies.
Lancaster History (see also Lancaster Markets)
Lancaster Castle as 19th century prison
An exploration of how a medieval castle was converted into a 19th century prison
and how the prisoners – and debtors – were treated.
West Indies to Window Blinds: 19th century Lancaster
Georgian prosperity, mid-Victorian slump, late 19th century boom and an Edwardian
swansong. How the old county town fared during the industrial revolution.
Historical Pageants in the North West
During the first half of the 20th century, many towns and villages (inc Carlisle,
Lancaster, Preston, Liverpool, Manchester, etc) mounted elaborate historical pageants,
often with casts of thousands, which depicted their areas’ local histories. This
talk illustrates some of these pageants and discusses why they were mounted, what
they contained and who participated.
This talk focuses on Lancaster’s pageants in 1913 and 1930 and also covers the celebrations
of 1937 when Lancaster became a city and an indoor pageant of 1953.
Rural Society c1780-1920(can be given individually or split/expanded/merged) illustrated
with material from NW England (see also sources). Topics covered -
a) Agricultural Revolutions:Feeding the Industrial Revolution
What did the rapidly expanding population of the country, and particularly the industrial
North west, eat and where did their food come from?
b) Landowners and tenants
An exploration of the families who owned and farmed the land in C19 North West and
some sources for studying them
c) Work on the Land
A discussion of the workforce – men, women and children - how it changed over the
course of the century and how it differed up and down the country and region
d) Enclosures and Commons
The drive towards Parliamentary Enclosure but also the survival and value of common
land, especially in the North West.
e) Ireland: Potatoes, Famine and Emigration OR ‘The Great Hunger: 1845-51’
Why did the Irish eat potatoes and why did so many die in the Great Famine of the
1840s or leave the country?
f) The Highland Clearances
What were they? How ‘cruel’ were they? What did they achieve?
Victorian Society in Cumbria AND/OR Lancashire
a) Charity, the Poor Law and Workhouse’ – when all else failed
An exploration of the ways in which people sought to ‘make ends meet’ and get through
hard times including the poor law and the increasingly dreaded workhouse
b) Muck, Medicine and Mortality: Health and Housing
Water, sewerage, housing, hospitals, medicine – an exploration of the ways in which
Victorians coped, or tried to cope with squalor and disease
c) Happy Days? Educating the Masses
Elementary schooling, 1818-1918
d) Outside the Law: crime, policing and punishment
Patterns of crime, the development of local police forces and the changing role of
e) Roughs and Respectables: the pleasures and problems of leisure
Some of the various ways in which people entertained themselves – or were entertained
– and authorities’ responses to them
f) Getting Away from it all: seaside resorts and the Lakes
The growth of the day trip, seaside holiday and Lakeland tour
g) Child Labour in the 19th century
How extensive was child labour? What were contemporary attitudes towards it?
Sources for Local History
Edwardian Domesday c1910-14
An introduction to maps, surveys and descriptions of every property in every parish
in the country. Ideally I would need time to research in the National Archives in
London to be able to provide local examples.
Making Sense of the Census
The census is a widely used for family history but what else can one do with it?
A Neglected Treasure Trove: 19th century Lancashire and/or Cumbrian History from
British Parliamentary enquiries have information on virtually every aspect of British
history: population, factories, enclosure and farming, public health etc etc. And
every local MP’s speeches!
Agricultural Returns and the National Farm Survey of 1941
The government has collected details of agricultural output at parish level every
year since 1870 and in 1941 instituted a major survey of every farm. The sources
and what they tell us