Object of the Week


As the museum is currently closed we are going to highlight one object each week and bring the museum to you.

This week we are highlighting the magnificently named Tempest Prognosticator.

Invented by Dr George Merryweather, a GP and former curator at the museum.The Tempest Prognosticator consisted of 12 pint bottles each containing a live leech, set around a circular stand under a bell which was surrounded by 12 hammers. Each hammer was attached by a wire to a thin piece of whalebone set loosely into the neck of the bottles.Changes in atmospheric pressure would force the leeches to the top of the bottle dislodging the bone and ringing the bell. When several bells rang at once a storm was “prognosticated”.

The prognosticator was demonstrated at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and is designed like an Indian Temple in honour of the design inspiration for the Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, the Great Exhibition model was lost. Our prognosticator is a 1951 copy made for the Festival of Britain and gifted to the museum.

Make sure you get to see it when you can.


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