Dr. Dillon Weston: fungus expert and model maker

Dr. Dillon Weston making a model of fungus out of glass
Image 1 Dr. Dillon Weston making a model of the downy mildew fungus using glass. Model-making was a hobby that Dillon Weston pursued to help relieve his insomnia. Image © John S. Murray, 1952

A fungus expert at the University of Cambridge, Dr. William A. R. Dillon Weston made intricate models of fungi using glass. As well as creating useful demonstration tools, Dillon Weston's model making hobby was a remedy for his bouts of insomnia. Some of these delicate objects were produced on family holidays and then transported back to Cambridge in the back of his car.

Fungus expert

Dr. Dillon Weston XR  (1899-1953) spent all of his professional life in Cambridge. After obtaining his degree in Natural Sciences at St. Catharine's College, Dr. Dillon Weston was employed as a mycologist (an expert in the study of fungi) at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Ministry pathologists at that time were stationed at universities, where teaching and supervision of students were included as part of their duties.

Model maker

Dr. Dillon Weston began making models in glass in 1936, mostly of fungi that cause plant diseases. His tools for making the models were simple: a Bunsen burner; pliers and imported glass from Czechoslovakia. The majority of the models were made during the early hours of the morning at his home, Howe Farm in Cambridge. He suffered from insomnia and found that his model-making provided some relief. As Dr. Dillon Weston became more enthusiastic about his hobby, he also produced some delicate pieces during summer vacations to Frinton-on-Sea with his family between 1937 and 1939. These fragile models then had to make a careful journey back to Cambridge by car.(1)

Dr. Dillon Weston made fewer models during the war years as he became progressively busier. He was appointed as Principal Plant Pathologist for the Eastern Province of the National Agricultural Advisory Service in 1946. Dr. Dillon Weston died in 1953 aged only 54.

» An introduction to the glass fungi
» EXPLORE: rotate the glass model of downy mildew fungus


  1. H. Tribe, 'The Dillon-Weston glass models of microfungi', The Mycologist, vol 31 (1998), pp. 169-173. (Find in text ^)

Ruth Horry

Ruth Horry, 'Dr. Dillon Weston: fungus expert and model maker', Explore Whipple Collections, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge, 2008 [http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/whipple/explore/models/glassfungi/dillonweston/]

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