Model of a ventilator, London, England, 1831-1870

1831-1870 in London
Robert Boyle & Son Limited

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Ventilator, model of patent by Robert Boyle, mahogany frame, British, mid 19th century

Made by Robert Boyle & Son Ltd, an engineering company specialising in ventilation, this model was made for hygiene exhibitions to demonstrate how their ‘Air Pump Ventilator’ worked. If air is blown through the model the balls of cotton wool (which represent the stagnant air in a building) will rise, showing how it is immediately drawn out of the room.

Disease was thought to be caused by bad air and smells from human waste, rotten rubbish and stagnant water, so good ventilation was considered to be important. Robert Boyle saw himself as a public health campaigner and wrote many ‘Sanitary Crusades’ on the topic of public hygiene.

On display

Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.


Public Health & Hygiene
Object Number:
frame, mahogany, tubes, glass and windows, glass
  • visual and verbal communication

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

View manifest in IIIF viewer

Add to Animal Crossing Art Generator

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.