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Portrait of John Whitehurst

Just discovered a biography and this portrait of John Whitehurst on

Portrait of John Whitehurst

John Whitehurst


No.1 – Rare Whitehurst Barometer

I’ve chosen to kick of this feature with this Rare Whitehurst Barometer which sold for a record breaking £22,000 at auction in Derby in March 2010.

Rare Whitehurst barometer

Rare Whitehurst barometer

The barometer, dated 1757, lay undiscovered behind a wardrobe at a home in Borrowash for years. It measures 7cm by 53cm and would have been used to measure atmospheric pressure.

The 253 year old piece is one of only 25 known examples by clockmaker John Whitehurst who lived in Derby in the 1700s. He lived in Iron Gate until 1764 and thereafter at Queen Street. He corresponded with Erasmus Darwin at Lichfield and Matthew Boulton in Birmingham and by 1764 the trio formed the nucleus of the Lunar society. Whitehurst created barometers, pyrometers, thermometers and other types of instrument, writing a thesis advocating the universal introduction of standard measurements. He also pioneered heating and ventilation systems for house, factories, conservatories and hospitals as well as the first truly modern flushing lavatory. He is considered to have been ‘one of the finest minds of his generation’.

Information from Derby Evening Telegraph and


Object of the week

I thought that it would be a good idea to select one object from my ongoing visits to the region’s museums (or from features in the regional news) every week/fortnight to showcase the kinds of collections that I’ve been exploring and to invite feedback from other interested parties and those with more specialist expertise! If you have a suggestion for ‘object of the week’, please get in touch.