This must have been something else. Would love to have seen this. Would love your opinions on the Diorama. I will surf the web to see if there are any photo's of it.
"Thompson’s Diorama of the Zulu War (1881)
Mr W.H. Thompson’s "Colossal Mirror of the Zulu War in South Africa" was shown at Garner’s Theatre (formerly White’s Rooms) in King William Street, Adelaide, in May 1881. The Advertiser reported: ‘The diorama consists of many well-executed pictures representing scenes that occurred during the bloody war in South Africa in 1879, during the course of which the brave Prince Imperial fell victim to the murderous assegais of the Zulu warriors.’ The views were said to faithfully represent the different scenes, and after each view was wound on to the stage it was explained by Mr Thompson. The scenes were said to occupy 30,000 (square) feet of canvas.
One part of the programme was advertised as ‘The mechanical marvel showing 8,000 figures on the march,’ and a quotation from the Sydney Daily Telegraph included in the advertisement said, ‘The mechanical portion of the diorama is constructed with marvellous cunning, and far excels anything of the kind shown in this city.’ The ‘8,000 figures’ were miniature wooden representations of soldiers en route to the battlefield. However, the Advertiser reported a small hitch in the operation of the mechanical marvel. ‘The figures are worked by persons underneath the stage, and owing to some trifling imperfection in the arrangements one or two regiments stuck fast and refused to proceed on the warpath. One troop of marines was especially obstinate and, to the great delight of the "gods," instead of advancing the insubordinate soldiers fell down flat, and only moved on after a little gentle persuasion had been brought to bear on them by a human head and arm that appeared from the depths beneath and administered the necessary progressive push.’
Another problem arose when it was time to distribute the ‘gold watch, silver watch, and 100 other beautiful gifts,’ which were to be given away ‘at the discretion of the proprietor,’ not by lucky numbers marked on a programme, which was the usual practice at most entertainments of that kind. When Mr Thompson began his haphazard distribution of gifts the audience became very noisy and disorderly. ‘Persons located in the back seats of the pit and gallery crushed forward in order to bring themselves into prominence, and so secure one of the gifts. The people in the front seats were considerably inconvenienced, and a by no means creditable scene ensued. The rush from behind, the general disorder, the whooping and catcalls being the reverse of enjoyable to orderly disposed persons.’
Advertisments in the Adelaide papers said the paintings were the work of the eminent London artists Telbin, Walter Hann, Ballard, Rogers, Gordon and Harford, and that the diorama had been seen by over 200,000 persons in the past 6 months. The description of incidents portrayed on the canvas were described in advertisements as thrilling, and contained some stirring patriotic statements --
‘The Battle of Isandula, the last order given was -- Fix bayonets, Men, and die like English Soldiers; and so they did.’
‘The Buffalo River - Saving the Colours. They lost their lives, but they saved the colours.’"