As part of a series of classes I will be giving on Regency life, using objects rather just pictures, I am reconstructing various objects that are either very rare or only survive in pictures. One of the strangest is the Weymouth Cyclorama.
In the collections at Weymouth Museum is a small cardboard box containing a roll of paper. The paper roll consists of a series of printed views of the Dorset coast, which have been stuck together on a linen backing to give a continuous picture of the coast from Portland Bill to Lulworth Cove as seen from the sea. From the steamships that are shown off Weymouth, I would date the roll to about 1825-30. It must have been part of a very expensive tourist souvenir.
The box lid describes it as a Cycloramique View of Weymouth Bay, and incudes a drawing of the viewer. Clearly it was intended to turn the roll so the pictures moved in front of the viewer as though they were passing along the coast.
I naturally wanted to reconstruct the viewer.
From high quality scans of the cyclorama images I was able to print off all the images and mount them together in a single strip. Even at ten centimetres high the strip was nearly four metres long.
Then it was necessary to reconstruct the turning mechanism, I had no idea of how the original worked, but after several sessions of trial and error I created this.
The surrounding box both contains the winding mechanism and holds it at a suitable distance from the viewers eyes. An internal partition gives a suitable frame for the view.
The box was finally decorated and, by tuning the knobs, you can experience a voyage along the Dorset coast as it would have been nearly two hundred years ago.