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Bromley House Library, Nottingham

On Thursday I attended a prospective members event at Bromley House Library in Nottingham, home of Nottingham Subscription Library. The library was founded in 1816, before the public library service had come into being. At this time there were around 150 original members (each of whom was asked to purchase a share in the library and pay an annual subscription fee) and the premises was a building in Carlton Street. The first librarian was a Mr Hardy who lived onsite, and the library seems to have largely modeled itself on the Athenaeum private club and library in Liverpool. The library was formed before the Dewey system came into being and the books were therefore organised as follows: A=theology, B=philosophy, C=history, biography and travel, D=literature, E=fine arts and F=politics, economics and law. The books continue to be organised according to this classification system today, also being divided by size and numbered in acquisition order. The library moved to Bromley House in 1821 and promptly also installed a remote-indicating wind-vane which was restored in 2000 and can be seen behind the issue desk. Today the library has approximately 1,100 members.

Among the library’s collections are a weather diary for 1826-27 made at Bromley House by librarian James Archer, when Britain was still in the grip of the ‘Little Ice Age’. Another weather record was kept at the library between 1839-1840 (probably by R.N. Harris, Library Porter and Housekeeper) but this is now only available in the National Meteorological Archive. I hope to return to Bromley House soon to consult the weather diary and the local history collection. Thank you to John Wilson for bringing these local weather records to my attention through his paper in the Journal of the Thoroton Society.

Bromley House Library, Angel Row, Nottingham

Bromley House Library, Angel Row, Nottingham

Bromley House Library from the walled garden

Bromley House Library from the walled garden

 

‘Wild Weather Week’ (13th-20th September)

It’s ‘Wild Weather Week’!

This week the BBC will be taking a closer look at the extreme climatic conditions in the UK. East Midlands Today weatherman Des Coleman will be exploring a range of climatic conditions that affect the East Midlands region. In Nottinghamshire his focus will be on flooding. Please use the links below for more details.

A few weather records from the BBC Wild Weather pages:

  • Hottest day in Nottinghamshire: 36.1 degrees C in Clarborough, 3rd August 1990.
  • Windiest day in Nottinghamshire: 82 mph in Watnall, 2nd January 1976.
  • Coldest day in Leicestershire: -23.3 degrees C in Caldecott, 13th January 1987.
  • Hottest day in Lincolnshire: 35.8 degrees C in Bourne, 3rd August 1990.
  • Coldest day in Lincolnshire: -18.6 degrees C in Lincoln, 18th December 1981.
  • Windiest day in Lincolnshire: 93 mph in Waddington, 2nd January 1976.

BBC East Midlands Today, BBC One at 18:30 BST, will be featuring a film each evening this week, concentrating on a particular aspect of the weather. A special programme will be broadcast on Monday, 20th September, 2010 on BBC One at 7.30pm: “Weatherman Des Coleman explores the East Midlands’ wildest weather, from floods to lightning, and fog to freezing temperatures. What is the science behind our weather patterns and why do different areas experience such extremes? Des challenges three East Midlands alternative meteorologists to make an accurate long range summer forecast, the Holy Grail for forecasters everywhere.”

Details of the other eleven regionally focussed ‘Wild Weather’ documentaries can be found on the BBC One Programmes webpage.

 

1st National Amateur Observers Symposium, University of Reading

This weekend I attended the 1st National Amateur Observers Symposium at the University of Reading. The event was organised by the Royal Meteorological Society and the Climatological Observers Link (COL) on the occasion of COL’s 40th anniversary. The weekend was a great opportunity to talk to amateur weather observers and learn more about their passion. Speakers included representatives from the Royal Meteorological Society, Met Office, newspaper weather journalists and weather photographers, and members of COL, TORRO (Tornado and Storm Research Organisation), and GEO (Group for Earth Observation). The programme is available to download from the Royal Meteorological Society’s events page. The papers on weather folklore were particularly interesting and I intend to investigate any weather folklore or weather rhymes specific to the East Midlands region – any suggestions?

I am also now intending to join the RMetS’ ‘The Weather Club’ which was launched earlier this month. The club provides an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together to share their very British obsession with the weather. “The Weather Club promotes an appreciation and understanding of the weather – its beauty, its power, its occasional absurdity, its fragility in the face of human activity, and the deep and fundamental influence it has upon us all” (The Weather Club, 2010).

On Sunday morning we were all treated to a visit to the Reading University Atmospheric Observatory and observed the day’s observer taking his readings and checking the instruments. All the photos are available on my flickr page. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to identify all of the instruments!

Reading University Atmospheric Observatory website with live data streaming.

The Weather Club

The day's observer checking the automated rain gauge

The day's observer checking the automated rain gauge

 

Manor House Museum, Kettering

Today I went to Kettering’s Manor House Museum. I met with Clare Bowyer who had kindly contacted me to say that the museum had some nature notebooks and other materials from Kettering naturalist W.J. Mayes which may be of interest to the climate change project. The material dates from the 1920s-50s and is currently kept in storage at Manor House Museum. W. J. Mayes, a member of Kettering and District Naturalists Society and Field Club, published his ‘Nature Notes’ column in the Kettering Leader and Guardian for many years and kept each piece in a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings. The columns record the timing of many natural events, for example the first appearance of many different species with the passing of the seasons, and also frequently make mention to the current local weather conditions, and nature/weather lore. Headlines include: ‘Butterflies herald summer’s approach’, The sun was the signal’, ‘May blossom’, ‘Music of the birds dies away’, ‘Autumn – season that colours the countryside’, ‘Floods brought disaster to wildlife’, ‘Skylarks and thrushes join robins in song’, ‘Like magic nature lays on her spring parade’, ‘Rooks are building high – fine summer coming?’, ‘Inland gulls do not foretell bad weather’, and many more! This is the first phenology diary I have found in the East Midlands’ Museums but I will now be looking out for more! Thank you very much to Clare for providing me with access to the notebooks.

Elsewhere, the museum has a woolly rhinoceros skull and upper jaw with teeth, and a mammoth tooth, the fossilised remains of the Kettering ichtyyosaur(!), and axe heads and other ice age tools in the ‘clues to the past’ gallery. The museum has a local focus and includes displays on Kettering market place, Rockingham Forest, the railway, town traders, the history of the museum, the growth of Kettering town and the shoe making industry. The shoe display includes examples of the boots manufactured for the Everest assault of 1953.

W. J. Moyes

W. J. Mayes

 
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