A book has been published detailing the "most wonderful show of the 18th century" and its surprising roots in Waltham Abbey.

In 1733 a man named Henry Bridges unveiled a giant four tiered machine in the town.

Known as his Microcosm or Little World, the painstakingly put together contraption made use of the finest clockwork, sculpting and woodcarving technology of the time.

Different parts of the machine moved separately from one another, depicting musical scenes and tales from ancient Greek literature in a way that would have been astoundingly complex to an 18th century audience.

Barb Drummond, a self-taught historian based in Cardiff, stumbled upon the story when she was researching Bristol Bridge.

Henry's son James was the driving force behind the infrastructure project and said that his father had taught him everything he knew, leading Ms Drummond to Henry.

"It is the most bizarre story I have come across," she said.

"His machine is the whole world. It is a very complex view of his world.

"All of the parts moved and they kept adding to it.

"It has thousands of different parts and each part was probably handmade

"It was the most wonderful show of the century."

Although promotional literature at the time claimed the machine had taken Henry 20 years to built, it probably took closer to seven.

Ms Drummond's book not only follows the story of the Little World, but inventors from across the country and continent who were pushing the boundaries of the day's technology to create weird and wacky shows for the public.

In one unlikely episode of 18th century side-showery one man began touring with a mechanical duck which quacked, ate and even defecated.

Unlike Henry's machine - which he opened and encouraged people to look in - the duck was shrouded in secrecy.

It was later uncovered that the the mechanical mallard was not actually digesting food as its inventor had claimed.

The book's central mystery is not wildfowl however, but how and why Waltham Abbey became the centre of mini-world building.

Ms Drummond said: "There were reports of another machine in Waltham Abbey following Henry's death. There were four clock makers there.

"Henry must have seen something.

"There was something strange happening in Waltham Abbey."

To find out what happened to the machine and what was going on in Waltham Abbey go to tinyurl.com/y9otja2u