Interior showing planetariums
Sun with mid brightness
Initially it was James' intention
to set up a Globe museum beyond the Orrery Cafe however being
located in a seaside town he believed the space would be better
suited as a museum dedicated to the Seaside Postcard. His research
time and time again would lead to Donald
McGill who was crowned in his own lifetime as the King of
the Seaside Postcard, Donald specialised in comical cards which
were superior to rival card illustrators as his clever wit and
fine artistic hand would deftly record all aspects of the 20th
century through over 12,000 artworks. The shrine James has created
is a must for anyone who is interested in art and social history
as you will find all manner of subjects portrayed in his work:
Inventions; Suffragettes; 2 World Wars; Marriage; Hen Pecked
Husbands; Gambling; Fashions; Children; Lovers; Marriage and
requisit Sauce. The Museum also focuses on the trials an tribulations
Donald Experienced as he was unfairly prosecuted by the Government
in 1954, once year earlier numerous seaside towns including
Ryde experienced police raids on shops and in Ryde over 5,000
cards were seized the shopkeepers were fined under the 1857
Obsenity act and over 3,000 cards were destroyed. If you look
at the cards today you will be surprised what was all the fuss
about, but times have changed a lot since them. The McGill museum
is one of the cheapest attractions on the island and probably
one of the funniest.
The Donald McGill Museum has now relocated to The Royal Victoria Arcade in Union St.
the Orrery, time moves quickly, as the planet Earth takes just
one minute to orbit its Sun. The
muralled art work in the orrery is celestial and all the stars
of the ceiling and the upper parts of the Orrery's walls are
lit by fibre optic cable (over 90,000 ft!), these stars shine
when a coin is donated towards the proposed museum, the celestial
artwork is figurative but a with a difference, instead of traditional
figures for the 12 Zodiac figures as well as the figures that
surround Zodiac, you will find that the Orrery's artwork features
the characters from Lewis Carrolls famous 2 books Alice in
Wonderland and Through
The Looking Glass, and is based on a recent theory
that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) used the known constellations
of the heavens as reference for his Alice books. More about
this unusual theory can be found on the Greaves
& Thomas website.
while many people agree that the Orrery has one of the finest
planetariums to be found in the United Kingdom, we believe there
are eight finer planetariums to be found within the Orrery cafe
itself! This is because we have made all the cafe tables with
mirrored surfaces, thus when you look through the mirrored table
at the planetarium, because the mirror enhances an illusion
of depth, the planetarium appears to have a more three dimensional
quality and thru the mirror they also appear to defy gravity!
The planetarium is activated by inserting a coin into what is
now known as 'The God Slot', here you can literally be
a Master of the Universe and control the brightness
of the Sun, make the planets move and lastly make the stars
Planetarium as viewed through the Orrery Cafe's
The Orrery cafe
was destined to have white marble topped tables, however, when
visiting Venice, we decided to have tea in the Hotel des Bains
(location for the film 'Death in Venice'), here we marvelled
at their mirrored tables, which despite being made in the 1920's,
showed very little wear. It was only when we placed the mirrored
tables below the planetarium that we realised that by default
we had created something out of the norm.
Planetarium at night with minimum
internal light, note the fibre optic stars are illuminated.
building for the Orrery Cafe and Donald McGill Postcard Museum
beautiful neglected building and now has been transformed into
an amusing attraction on the Isle of Wight.
A Hermetic Globe hangs outside
the Orrery recording the day it was made 06/06/06. The Globe
has now been updated and additional figures are now in evidence.
Outside the Orrery
hangs an illusion which is often called "The Wonder of
Ryde" as it appears to be a mirror ball which does not
reflect, instead it reflects the street on the day it was made
(June 2006), on this day members of
the Isle of Wight
Austin Club kindly parked their cherished automobiles in
Union Street so that they could also be recorded by the Hermetic
Globe, Sir Partick Moore also kindly agreed to be photographed,
so that when you look up at the globe, your reflection is replaced
by Sir Patricks, who is smiling and waving back at you. Also
a kind policeman, granted consent for the Union Street traffic
to be halted, to the Greaves
& Thomas 1957 delivery van could be postioned and photographed
driving up union street which is normally a one way street.
This unusual globe has now been
updated to show Donald McGill and some of his characters, Two
Dinosaurs - creating havock on the high street. Lastly, we have
inserted Matt an island food critic, who in 2006 had a bit of
banter with the Orrery, for this reason we have immortalised
him in the Hermetic Globe, for more information visit
the Matt and Cat website,
Matt actually agreed to come and pose for the imagery, but he
always could not make the appointed time, so due to his unreliability,
we have made our own rendition of him.
Available for hire for birthdays,
Please Note that this information
is pre June 2014 and should only be used as reference.
Questions and Answers:
Q: In the Orrery, I am sure
I have seen your fantastic counter before!
A: Well this is not an easy
question to answer as it is an amalgam of numerous bits and
bobs: The first five foot of it was once the chemist counter
from Blakelys Chemist in Cross St Ryde.
We have extended it by a further
11 feet using all manner of reclaimed mahogany, including an
old wardrobes etc.
The tier shelf that displays
some Greaves & Thomas globes was once a circular filing
cabinet for a marine company in London.
The white marble counter,
which keeps the pastries cool, was once the marble facade of
an office block in London.
Lastly the 4 fine carved mahogany
details were kindly given to me by my next door neighbour several
years ago, she knew of my plans for a museum, and thought they
would be useful, when asked where she found them, she informed
me that her husband loved looking in old empty buildings and
found these one day. A few months later I found an early picture
of the inside of 15 Union street when it was Mr Bishops Wine
Merchants, here the 4 Mahogany details can be clearly seen and
my neighbour was in fact returning them back to the building
after over 50 years of safekeeping!
Q: In the Orrery, the planetarium
is being held by a arm, who does this belong to?
A: Well if you know your Alice,
you would know how important the Red King is, he holds all
together for Alice and company, so for this reason we thought
we would ask him to insert his arm through into the cafe universe
and hold our planetarium, otherwise due to the rigid laws of
reality the whole thing would fall crashing down onto staff
and customers. We were delighted that he accepted, amazing that
he can do this while dreaming of Wonderland!
Q: Are you not going to sell
Greaves & Thomas globes from the Orrery?
A:The will be some globes on
display but the best way is to view the Greaves
& Thomas website and once you have made your
mind up or have any questions you are best advised to email
them, their website is their best info point as they have not
produced a catalogue for many years.
Q: Does the Orrery intend to
open in the evenings?
A: Yes it is our intention,
however as Union St can be a bit of a riot at times, we are
contemplating setting up a small club aptly named 'The Brillig'
: Monday: Once a month Guest Speaker. Tuesdays: Ladies only
night. Wednesdays: Traditional Games Night. Thursdays: Big Chill.
Fridays: Social Saturdays: Social Sunday: Banquet once a Month......
but presently we are busy enough with London commitments so
for the mean time no firm decision has been made.
Q: Why is there a Giant Grasshopper
on the top of the building?
A: A long time ago a Grasshopper
helped a musician win a competition despite the fact one of
his lute strings broke, the insect landed on the sound box of
the lute and started strumming its legs, the sound amplified
by the sound box of the lute was so entrancing (must have sounded
like modern techno music!) that it enthralled the audience and
the musician then won the prize. So the grasshopper won the
day by creating an illusion, consequently we have placed a grasshopper
above the Orrery entrance incase you find fault with our effort,
then we hope the grasshopper will once again step in and save
However a bald headed coot will
always try to eat grasshoppers if they can!
Find more about this beautiful
ancient story here http://www.globemakers.com/hidden_meaning.html
Q: Are there any other Alice
items in the cafe?
A: Well yes there are some more
items you may be interested in, as you know the tables are glass
topped, but the floor has also has been chequered like the looking
glass chess board, and just like Alice if you decend to the
basement, the tiles shrink, and shrink again if you then enter
one of the two loos. Also as you descend the spiral staicase,
which many people have referred to as "going down the rabbit
hole", you will find a large jar of marmalade being used
as an uplighter. Look out for a large plush sofa complete with
the singing flowers and lastly a giant looking glass separates
the Donald McGill Museum from the Cafe.
Glass wall and doors reflecting perfectly on the opening
day of the museum.
Thank you for your interest!
Any more questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 7th of January (2007)
Kerry Ashmore visited the Orrery and kindly posted this review
Thank you Kerry!
On the 13th of February (2007)
we were kindly reviewed by Amytheduck following 2 trips to the
Thank you Amy!
Auntie P, took some stunning images of the Orrery which can
be seen on her Flicker page
Thank you Auntie P they way
surpass our efforts!
*Lastly, we were delighted
to find that we have been voted one of the Top 100
Best Vegetarian Resturants in the UK! A pretty amazing feat
as we have recently been shut for 2 years! Clearly, we make
a lasting impression.
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