The Bramwell Brown Blog

The Barometer – the weather app of past…

By Laura, Rob & Sarah

These days when you want to know the weather forecast all you have to do is reach for your phone and check (probably one of numerous) apps. It’s easy to forget that generations of people (before the advent of apps and satellite weather forecasting) used a tool that is now very much associated with another era – the barometer!

As our Weather Clock is a celebration of the intricate mechanics of bygone eras we thought it would be interesting to delve into the history of barometers… so here goes:

  1. The word barometer is derived from the Greek words ‘baros’ which means weight and ‘metron’ meaning measure
  2. Italian scientist, Evangelista Torricelli, is thought to have been the first person to recognise that the world’s atmosphere was not weightless but applied a force, now known as atmospheric pressure, back in the 16th century
  3. It wasn’t until around 1670 that people began producing and selling barometers as a weather instrument to be used in private homes.
  4. By the late 17th century many clock, furniture makers and opticians began to become involved with detailed and ornate cabinetry and designs of these newly ‘desired and sought-after’ barometers.
  5. For the next 200 years the mercury barometer ruled the roost! To possess one was a symbol of great achievement, to be found only in the homes of nobility and the Upper Classes.
  6. Records confirm that there were 3,500 registered barometers between 1670-1900. Today it’s very rare to come across a mercury barometer as most were replaced by ‘aneroid’ barometers.
  7. Around 1840 a Frenchman Lucien Vidie introduced the first mechanical (aneroid) barometer with mechanical arms and a pointer to measure air pressure.
  8. By the mid 1800s most barometers were only produced in the style of a ‘wheel’ or ‘banjo’ – as this was the popular style of time.
  9. By the late 1800s the barometer was as popular as the computer is today!
  10. At its peak, there were several retail stores in England that specialised solely in selling barometers.*

In more recent years barometers, in our experience, became confined to just memories associated with parents/grandparents or gathering dust on shelves and, in either case, holding no appeal to a rushed, digital generation. We want to confine this time to the past and make barometers relevant again for a new generation.

Our ‘Mechanical’ Weather Clocks – or “Mechanimated” as we call them - really are barometers for the 21st century. Their nifty electrical air pressure sensors calculate the rate and relevance of change in atmospheric pressure for you. This means that what you see in the mechanically animated sky should, more often than not, be what you get when you step outside!



*Information taken from Brief History of the Barometer