Our picture this week shows Portland House which at one time stood on the junction of the Devizes and Wilton Roads.

The land where Portland House once stood lay vacant for many years so it is perhaps refreshing to see a residential block is nearing completion on the site of the old house.

Portland House was the home of Theodore Brown who, in Edwardian Salisbury, was the proprietor of a chemist’s and photographic business.

He soon became interested in projection and invented an apparatus for still stereoscopy. This technology dealt with two-dimensional drawings or photographs that when viewed by both eyes appeared to exist in three dimensions in space.

Stereoscopic pictures were produced in pairs showing the same scene or object from slightly different angles. A popular term for stereoscopy is 3-D.

The first public exhibition of Brown’s invention was at the old County Hall in Endless Street in 1903.

After a brief introduction by Brown, he showed a series of photographic pictures first taken in the usual way, followed by the same pictures taken with his patent apparatus.

These included boys and girls leaving the Bishop’s School, boating on the Avon, employees of Salisbury Clock Factory leaving work and various Salisbury street scenes.

When Theodore first became interested in optical matters, screen entertainment was limited to magic lantern slides which attempted to provide an illusion of reality and movement by means of ingenious trick revolving effects.

In his lifetime, Theodore Brown witnessed motion pictures firmly established as a popular entertainment.

He knew and frequently assisted all the great British pioneers of the trade, and he was himself an assiduous and successful experimenter, particularly in the field of stereoscopy.