Nationalising provincial weather: meteorology in nineteenth-century Cornwall

SK Naylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the development of a quantified, standardized and institutionalized meteorological science in nineteenth-century Britain, one that relied on sophisticated instrumentation and highly regulated observers and techniques of observation in its attempt to produce an accurate picture of the national weather. The story is told from one of the numerous points in British meteorology's extensive collection network: from Cornwall, in the far southwest of England. Although the county had been an acknowledged centre of meteorological labour since the eighteenth century, it came increasingly under the influence of various London-based meteorological institutions in the 1830s and in 1868 was chosen as the site of one of the Royal Society of London's few prestigious ‘first-order’ meteorological observatories. This case study presents us with the opportunity to witness the ways in which a national scientific enterprise was assimilated and interpreted in a particular local context. It gives us a chance to see how regulated forms of instrumentation and quantified measurement were translated in a particular place and, of course, how the non-place-bound ideals of metropolitan science occasionally faltered in the face of local values and preoccupations.
Translated title of the contributionNationalising provincial weather: meteorology in nineteenth-century Cornwall
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407 - 433
Number of pages27
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Science
Volume39 (3)
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


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