Jason Clarke Antiques

Early Twentieth Century Wall Aneroid Barometer by Chadburns Ltd Liverpool


For sale, an early Twentieth century wall aneroid barometer by Chadburns Limited of 47 Castle Street, Liverpool.

Presented in a stained oak surround, the three and a half inch dial is enclosed behind a centimetre thick nickel plated dial with an unsual setting dial to the base similar to those found on cased surveyor’s aneroids. The barometer dial measures 26 to 31 inches of barometric pressure and is engraved to Chadburns Ltd, 47 Castle St, Liverpool at the base. It also states that it is “compensated for temperature” in the upper section.

Perhaps the most interesting element of this barometer is the setting ring that surrounds the central dial. It is of course operated by the knob at the front of the barometer and can be turned 360 degrees. The weather indications on the outer ring have opposing sides, one for winter and one for summer where the differences are seen in the weather predictions for falling pressure. The style of the dial is somewhat reminiscent of Short & Mason’s Stormoguide series of the same period and it is highly likely that it was manufactured by this company. Short & Mason were certainly responsible for some innovative methods for making aneroid barometers more useful to their owners and were hugely renowned, so this would certainly fit the hypothesis.

Nevertheless, this is a slight departure from the norm in both its design and also its size. With the oak surround, it measures just seven inches across, a really well engineered piece.

The Chadburn family have a long history of involvement in the manufacture of scientific instruments. Beginning as a partnership in 1818 between William Chadburn and David Wright, by 1838 the business seems to have been bequeathed to the brothers Alfred & Francis Wright Chadburn, (the latter’s middle name presumably a dedication to David Wright from his business partner) and in 1841 a third and more renowned brother, Charles Henry had joined the company which was now renamed as Chadburn Brothers. The business had long been based in Sheffield at Nursery Street although in 1845, Charles Henry Chadburn relocated to Liverpool to open a new branch at Lord Street. The Brothers gained honourable mention for their exhibits at The Great Exhibition of 1851 and were granted a Royal Warrant by Prince Albert around this period.

Charles Henry Chadburn continued to trade in Liverpool until 1861 as a branch of the Sheffield company. From this point he was joined in business by his son William and the Liverpool business was renamed as Chadburn & Son.

In 1875, The Gazette provides evidence of the dissolution of the father and son partnership with his son William continuing the business, presumably for reasons of his father’s retirement. By this point, the company had already expanded the business to London with premises at 105 Fenchurch Street, London and it is likely that they were also trading in Glasgow and Newcastle as is evidenced on Chadburn & Sons advertising from the late 1870’s and early 1880’s.

William seems to have taken a great interest in ship’s telegraph technology and had already lodged a number of designs for instrumentation whilst in partnership with his father. At the time of the dissolution of the partnership William was already overseeing production of the Chadburn engine order telegraph and with the company renamed Chadburn & Sons to incorporate William’s offspring, it continued to grow from strength to strength. William Chadburn’s greatest stroke of luck was his association with Thomas Ismay, founder of the White Star Line to whom he lived in close proximity. This association led to Chadburn & Sons commissions for numerous ocean liners including the ill-fated RMS Titanic for which engine room telegraphs and steam whistles were manufactured. 

The Titanic incident seems not to have dented the Chadburn’s reputation as they were still in business in 1898 when the business was renamed Chadburn’s Ship Telegraph Company Limited. Their advertising in the 1950’s shows the company continuing to trade in all of the original UK locations with the addition of a Belfast branch. The remaining history of the company is unknown, although a Chadburns company is still in existence today selling manual and power transmissions for land and sea applications. It is likely that this company has some connection to the original.

Circa 1930

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