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Fulton's orrery

Museum of Transport

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Keywords: astronomy, museums, Old Glasgow Museum, orreries

John Fulton (1803-1853) was a shoemaker from Fenwick, Ayrshire. He became interested in astronomy and in orreries - machines which demonstrate how the planets and their moons rotate round the sun.

Fulton built three orreries, the third of which is pictured here. It was the most intricate of them all and took him four years to build. When it was completed he displayed it in Kilmarnock and then, in October 1833, brought it to Glasgow. It went on show in the saloon of the Argyll Arcade for a shilling admission fee and was a great success with the public. Fulton then took the orrery on a tour of the United Kingdom and eventually settled down in London.

In 1869 a group of Glasgow businessmen led by William Walker bought the orrery for the city. It was toured around Glasgow schools and museums until the 1930s when it found a more permanent home in the Old Glasgow Museum.

Reference: SP.2000.75.1

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums



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