The Oregon Trail                                 Great Exhibition of 1851


A Series of Separate Lectures


The Oregon Trail

In the mid 19th Century, the American west was opened up by settlers travelling in wagon trains.  They endured great hardships, spurred on by the promise of a better life and free land.  This talk explains the myths surrounding “Cowboy and Indian” films and the truth of the reality of the 2,000 mile journey of the Oregon Trail.  It shows the mutually supportive interaction between the settlers and the Native Americans.  Audio content includes voiced diaries of settlers and an interview with a descendant of an 1848 wagon train.


 Louis Comfort Tiffany: His Art and Enterprise

In the mid 19th Century, the Art and Craft movement (led by William Morris) emerged as a response to cheap, mass produced products from the Industrial Revolution.  This involved high quality, aesthetically pleasing products.   One of the great experimental artist/designer was Louis Comfort Tiffany who produced superb and innovative products (especially glassware).  This talk shows the work of Tiffany and other leading artists of the time.  Whilst facts (biographical etc) are given, this talk is mainly a showcase for their wonderful work.


 Why on Earth did they Invent That?

This is a light hearted look at inventions and inventors.   It tries to explain why some inventions become world-wide successes or crazes and why others never make it.  It shows how what are viewed as modern day inventions in fact date back over 150 years.  Audience "quizzes" help to show the extraordinary inventions from the past to  the present day.


 The Pyrenees Ice Caves: Formation, Discovery and Exploration

In 1926, Norbert Casteret and his wife Elizabeth were climbing in the Pyrenees and at a height of about 3,000 metres (10,000 ft) they discovered ice caves.  In August 1950 Norbert returned to the caves with his two daughters and explored the caves in detail.  I went there in 1965 with the British expedition.  The talk covers the theories (geological and mythological) of the formation of the Pyrenees and how the caves were formed.  It has spectacular photographs of the interior of the caves and the mountains.  The impact of climate change is discussed. 

The Great Exhibition if 1851: Genesis, Content and Legacies

From the time of the revolution, France held Expositions Industrielle (World Fairs).  In 1844 they held the first exposition to take place in a custom built hall.  The success of this spurred Prince Albert to conceive the exhibition of 1851.  Held in Hyde Park, it was the home of the famous Crystal Palace.  Within the Palace there were exhibits from all nations.  In the grounds were huge fountains, statues and full size models of dinosaurs.  Essentially it was the first “theme park” This was the first truly World Fair, which still take place today.  The lecture traces the history of World Fairs from 1789 to today, with the Great Exhibition as its central theme.


A History of Cartoons

The "cartoon" has had a major influence on society, from ancient cave paintings to modern animated films, .  They were used as designs for frescoes and later for social and political comment . They are now part of everyday life .  This talk traces the development of the form.  It ends with a series of cartoons with the audience  being invited to provide their own punch line before the original one is revealed.  The talk is informative and entertaining.

Science and technology

I have  many presentations on Science and Technology topics.  I can send you the complete list via e-mail or ordinary mail; just use the Contact box or my direct e-mail/telephone number to request a copy.

To see Ian delivering a ten minute clip of the Pyrenees Ice Caves  lecture to an audience if 400 people, please click here