Skip to main content

Poole's Myrioramas (1837 - 1937)



  • Existence: 1837 - 1937


The Poole family dominated the exhibition of pre-cinema shows including Panoramas, Dioramas and Myrioramas across the UK between 1837 and 1937. By 1900 the family were at the peak of their profession touring seven shows around the UK, Ireland and the Channel Isles.

The Poole family came from Malesbury in Wiltshire, where their base remained over generations.

Brothers Charles (1821-1877) and George Walter Poole (1828-1877) originally were musicians. They first adventured into Panorama shows in 1837 when they met Moses Gompertz (c1812-1893), a showman who owned a travelling Panorama. Pre-moving picture shows presented the audience with large painted narrative scenes on canvas, which often related topical news related to the conquests of the British Empire, famous battles and world travel. The scenes were accompanied by lively narrations, music and a range of variety acts, from humour to music, dancing and ventriloquism to break up the show and maintain the audience’s interest.

Initially, Gompertz employed the brothers to play music to accompany his Panoramas, however overtime Charles and George Poole became Gompertz business partners. It was not long before the brothers were travelling their own shows. Over the hundred years the Poole family operated travelling shows they founded several companies including; Poole & Young, a partnership with another one of Gompertz’s employees, Anthony Young, Wilson & Strange, Messrs Poole & Co, H. & F. Poole Myriorama (run by Henry (Harry) and Fred Poole) and a variety of shows run by Charles William Poole including; Charles W. Poole’s Myriorama, C.W. Poole’s No. 1 Myriorama, Charles W. Poole’s Imperial Myriorama, and Charles W. Poole’s Royal Myriorama. Besides showing their own panoramas, the Pooles performed moving panoramas acquired from a number of sources, such as the Hamiltons, who were the Pooles main rival at the time.

The business was so successful that most of the five sons of Charles and George’s brother John (1817-1889) and his wife Matilda (1824-1899); Joseph (1847-1906), George (1849-1929), Henry (Harry) (1850-1925), Charles William (1858-1918) and Fred (1867-c1907) got involved and eventually took over from their uncles. John and Matilda also had a daughter Ann, who will later become Mrs Bynorth and brought up Charles William's son after the break up of his marriage to Elizabeth Deborah Nott. The new generation of Poole’s took the Myriorama to new heights of popularity introducing sound and visual effects to their shows. Myriorama shows were mostly dramatic presentations of topical events and reflected the socio political spirit of the time. A reflection of this were some of their most successful shows, such as The Bombardment of Alexandria and the Loss of the Titanic.

The first use of the word ‘Myriorama’ by Messrs Poole to mean moving panorama seems to have been in 1883. They presented large painted scenes on canvas, which moved across the stage on rollers. The scenes were painted by the greatest scenic artists of the day at great cost, including Sebastian Estelos and William Telbin. It wasn’t until 1897 that the Poole brothers added actual moving image to their shows with the Cinematographie, a combined film camera, projector and developer.

By 1883 Joseph bought a house where he established a studio for the maintenance of the paraphernalia associated with the shows. In the meantime, successions of generations of the Poole family were taking over the family business and expanding it, purchasing many of the halls and theatres they hired for their shows including in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Gloucester, Stourbridge, Oxford and Ipswich, where they ran the town’s very first cinema in 1905.

The Pooles continued to be a leading company until its folding in 1937 as proven by the presentation of a sound picture show by Charles and George’s grandnephew John R. Poole to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Kent were in residence at Holyroodhouse in 1935.

Found in 75 Collections and/or Records:

Agricultural Hall Poster, c1838 - 1842

Reference code: 178R53.21
Scope and Contents Black type on green background. St. Mary's Hall, Islington, Messrs. Poole's The World gigantic pictorial enterprise, The Wars in South Africa and Afghanistan, Grand Nautical Effect, British Fleet Forcing the Dardanelles, General Robert's Triumphal Entry into Cabul, Destruction of H.M.S. Doterel, The Assassination of the Czar of Russia, Holy Land, Capitals of Europe, Miss Ada Violet Poole, G.H. Henry & L.D. Poynter, Herr Blitz, Mr Felix Somers, Mr Oscar Hartwell. Printed by James Upton,...
Dates: c1838 - 1842

Bill Barnes Collection

Reference code: NFA0172
Scope and Contents

Programmes, posters and photographs mainly related to the Poole family's travelling Myriorama show.

Dates: 1881 - 2017

Certificate, 10 August 1892

Reference code: 178Z64.14
Scope and Contents

Document certifying that Fred Lionel Mayer did his first appearance on Poole's New Myriorama with signatures on the bottom section, on Poole's Myriorama letter headed paper with red and white illustrations of people from around the world standing behing a globe held by a cherub and the figure of Britannia pointing a trident towards it. Manuscript.

Dates: 10 August 1892

Congress Hall Poster, 21 January 1884

Reference code: 178R53.12
Scope and Contents

Reading. Messrs Poole new mastodone Diorama of the World, America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Asia, Europe, War in Egypt, The Royal Review, Poole's Concert Party, Orchestra and Military Bands. Black and red type on blue, yellow, white and red backgrounds with colour illustration of Chinese acrobatics and fireworks in the centre. Printed by Stafford & Co., Printers and Engravers, Neherfield, near Nottingham.

Dates: 21 January 1884

Corn Exchange Assembly Rooms Poster, Monday 16 December c1901

Reference code: 178R53.50
Scope and Contents

Preston. Poole's & Young's New Diorama of Turkey, Cyprus, England and our Great Indian Empire, Poole's & Young's Excursions to the East, A Splendid Band and Staff of Vocals. Black type on white background around the edges, in the centre colour illustration of a war battle.

Dates: Monday 16 December c1901

Corn Exchange Poster, 18 February 1886

Reference code: 178R53.44
Scope and Contents

Bicester. Poole's Trips Abroad, Suakin to Berber, War in Egypt, City and Fortifictaions of Herat, The Lord Mayor's Show, The Nile Boats and Camel Corps for the Soudan Campaign, Concert Party. Black type on yellow background. Printed by Smith and Pankhurst, Printers, Bicester.

Dates: 18 February 1886

Guide Book of Charles W. and John R. Poole Latest Myriorama, c1920 - 1929

Reference code: 178Z64.7
Scope and Contents Colour illustration of the Union Jack on front cover, inside variety programme listing John R. Poole, George Logan, The Lannons, Sam Kelly, The Tree Avenue Girls, M. Joanny and The Murus Comedy Four, descriptions of sights in england, Vienna, Petrograd, Berlin, Brussells, Paris, scenes of WWI including Kitchener's army, the sinking of Kaise Whilheml der Grosse, mine sweeping, camp and hospital scenes and lyrics to the national anthems of the allies and other popular songs such as It's a Long...
Dates: c1920 - 1929

Harry Poole's Greatest Myriorama Programme, 27 February 1893

Reference code: 178K53.48
Scope and Contents Assembly Rooms, Cheltenham, The approach, engagement and destruction of The Spanish Armada, St. Paul'd Cathedral,Buckingham Palace, Newcastle-on-Tyne, The Forth Bridge, Ireland, Mechanical set of shipping, Newhaven, Crossing the Channel, Paris, Italy, Switzerland, St. Gothard Tunnel, Vienna, St. Petersburgh, Adrianople during the war, The Holy Land, Ceylon, India, China, Japan, New Zealand, San Francisco, Trinidad, The West Indies, New York, Egypt, The Soudan, Battle of Kirbekan, Stanley in...
Dates: 27 February 1893

Hengler's Grand Cirque Poster, c1879 - 1889

Reference code: 178R53.24
Scope and Contents

Brunswich Road, Liverpool. Blue type on white background, Poole & Young's new excursions, Zulu War, Rorke's Drift, Cetywayou the Zulu King, The Dioramic Effects, Electric light, singers and ventriloquists, Miss Mary Townley, Mr W. D'Almaine, Le Petite Maud and the Petit Charlie, Mr Felix Somers, Mr Frank Freeland. Printed by Stafford and Co., Printers and Engravers Nottingham.

Dates: c1879 - 1889

J. Poole's Myriorama Booklet, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178Z64.8
Scope and Contents London to Pretoria. Colour illustrations of a bustling city on top section, on bottom section view of military parade and soldiers raising the Union Jack, in the centre black and white photograph of Joseph Poole in a medallion surrounded by flags on the front cover, inside introduction, description of sights in England, Europe and South Africa, descriptions of scenes from the Transvaal war including Colenso, Paardeburg and Elandslaagte, followed by scenes in india, China, Hong Kong, Boston,...
Dates: c1900 - 1999

J. Poole's Myriorama Booklet, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178Z64.10
Scope and Contents London to Pretoria, Dark green and whilte illustrations of a bustling city on top section, on bottom section view of military parade and soldiers raising the Union Jack, in the centre black and white photograph of Joseph Poole in a medallion surrounded by flags on the front cover, inside introduction, description of sights in England, Europe and South Africa, descriptions of scenes from the Transvaal war including Colenso, Paardeburg and Elandslaagte, followed by scenes in India, China, Hong...
Dates: c1900 - 1999

Joseph Poole's Latest Myriorama Programme, 10 February 1890

Reference code: 178K53.4
Scope and Contents County Hall, Salisbury, Views of London, Porstmouth, Ireland, a tableau of Bristol, Liverpool, New York, Niagara Falls, the Artic regions, Russia, Bulgaria, Varna, The Suez Canal, Egypt, India, Afghanistan, Burmese war, China, Malta, Italy, Holland, Belgium and England, Poole's Acme Combination Company, The Great Alvantee, wire walking act, Mr Harry Stewart, quick costume change and singing act, Miss Jessie Arnelly, singing act, Le Pettite Mdlle. De Lisle, musical act, Professor Le Ray,...
Dates: 10 February 1890

Joseph Poole's Myriorama Booklet, c1890 - 1899

Reference code: 178Z64.9
Scope and Contents Sights of the world and passing events. Colour illustration of a navy ship, a scene in Africa and a cityscape with a crowd and blue and white photographs of Joseph Poole and J. Wolseley Poole on the front cover, inside introduction, description of scenes in London, Liverpool, Dublin, New York, Canada the Spanish-American war, Artic Regions, St. Petersburg, South Africa, the slave trade in central Africa, the Soudan war, India, the Frontier war, Constantinople, Vienna, Paris and others, The...
Dates: c1890 - 1899

Joseph Poole's Myriorama Poster, c1895

Reference code: 178R53.7
Scope and Contents Colonial Hall, New Street, Cardiff. Picturesque trips abroad to all parts of the globe, The British Fleet, The Lord Mayor's Show, Falls of Niagara, Poole's excelsior concert company, Mons. Martini's Bicycle Troupe, Lizzie Dent and Jack Seebold, musical act, Mr Felix Somers, ventriloquist act, Miss Jessie Arnelli, musical act, Mr R.H.A. Williams, musical act, Mr Frank Freeland, Grand orchestral band conducted by Mr C.W. Horton. Black type on green background with chain border. Printed by...
Dates: c1895

Joseph Poole's New Myriorama Picturesque Programme, 19 January 1891

Reference code: 178K53.45
Scope and Contents Town Hall Hounslow, England, France and Italy, Turkey, Egypt, The Soundan, Suez Canal and India, Afghanistan and China, Russia, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, America, the Atlantic Ocean and the Artic Regions, Scotland, Ireland, Mr Joseph Poole's Combination Company, Great Ledderites, The Modern Gladiators, Herr Blitz, Miss May Frinch, Mr Felix Somers, Mr Frank Freeland, Orchetral band conducted by Mr C.W. Horton. Gold type on green background and illustrations of Queen Victoria,...
Dates: 19 January 1891

Joseph Poole's New Myriorama Picturesque Programme, 11 April 1892

Reference code: 178K53.46
Scope and Contents Victoria Hall Suntherland, England, France and Italy, Turkey, Egypt, The Soundan, Suez Canal and India, Afghanistan and China, Russia, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, America, the Atlantic Ocean and the Artic Regions, Scotland, Ireland, Mr Joseph Poole's Combination Company, The Great Alvantee, high wire act, Herr Blitz, equilibrist act, Miss May Frinch, singing act, Bob Desmond, comedy act, Mr Felix Somers, George Mayo, Mr Fred Mayer, Group of Ladderites, equilibrist act, Poole's Merry...
Dates: 11 April 1892

Joseph Poole's New Myriorama Programme, 8 January 1900

Reference code: 178K53.56
Scope and Contents Town Hall, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Grand re-opening, The Boer War, General Buller's March, The Battle of Elandslaagte, Charing Cross, London, The Royal Navy Review, Osborne, The Bay of Biscay, River Tagus, Gibraltar, Alexandria, Interior of the mosque of El Choree, Our troops at the Pyramids, The Sphinx, Manfalout, The Temple of Karnac, Erment, Elephantina, The Throne of Pharaoh at Philae, Nubia, Abou Simbel, Battle of Tamai, Khartoum, South Africa, General Buller's march, The slave trade,...
Dates: 8 January 1900

Joseph Poole's New Myriorama Programme, 23 December 1889

Reference code: 178K53.16
Scope and Contents Victoria Hall, Southsea,London Bridge,Fishmonger's Hall, Thames embarkment, Westminster Abbey, Victoria Station, Portsmouth, Ireland, The Lakes of Killarney, A tableau of Bristol, Liverpool, New York, Niagara Falls, The Artic Regions, Russia, St. Petersburgh, Bulgaria, Tirnova, Sophia, Varna, The Suez Canal, Egypt, India, Calcutta, Delhi, Afghanistan, Burmese war, The Great Wall of China, Holy Land, The Mediterranean sea, Naples, The carnaval at Rome, Holland and Belgium, Mr Harry Stewart,...
Dates: 23 December 1889

Joseph Pool's New Eclipse Myriorama Guide Book and Songs, c1880 - 1889

Reference code: 178Z64.6
Scope and Contents Joseph Poole's new eclipse myriorama picturesque trips abroad all over the world, containing an introduction, descriptions of sights including Dover, Calais, Paris, Turin, Rome, Ancona, Constantinople, Gallipoli, Shumla, Cyprus and battles in Egypt and the Soudan, Stanley's expedition to central Africa, the Suez Canal, India, China, Russia, Europe, America and Great Britain, followed by the lyrics to The Mountain Guide, On, Staley On, Toll Gate, Irish Colleen, When the Lights are Low, Ducth...
Dates: c1880 - 1889

Market Hall Poster, Monday 6 August 1883

Reference code: 178R53.52
Scope and Contents

St. Austell. Entry of Sir Garnet Wolseley with British Forces into Cairo. Alexandria Bombardment on Fire and in Ruins, Poole's World Diorama, Events in Egypt, Review of British Troops, Mr Harry Stewart, Mr Felix Somers, Mr Oscar Hartwell, Poole's Splendid Bands. Black type on stripey orange and white background. Printed by Theophilus Crever, Steam Printer, Unition Street, Phymouth.

Dates: Monday 6 August 1883