When the River Avon froze over

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s archives team has discovered a Bath clergyman’s weather diary written around 250 years ago.

The 18th century weather diary Photo:  Freia Turland
The 18th century weather diary
Photo: Freia Turland

The small parchment notebook filled with tiny writing meticulously describes Bath weather every day for six years between 1756 and 1761. It shows that extremes of weather were not unusual: “17 December 1759. A sharp north east wind which has frozen the river so hard the people have walked over it in great numbers for 3 days past”.

This diary was kept by the Reverend Duel Taylor, Rector of Bath, and was found amongst the papers of Bath’s town clerks.

The weather diary at Bath Records Office Photo: Friea Turland
The weather diary at Bath Record Office
Photo: Freia Turland

It was discovered as part of an archives cataloguing project now underway at the Council’s Record Office – Bath, Water and World Heritage: the City Records from the 12th to the 21st centuries.

The project has been made possible thanks to £47,000 of external funding won from The National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives by the Record Office team.

The project, which started earlier this year, will enable archivists to catalogue Council records from the 12th to the 21st centuries for the first time.

The Project Archivists are Hannah Little, Lucy Powell and Rosemary Boyns. Hannah is currently recruiting volunteers to help with the project and maximise the amount of information that can be recorded.

If you would like to find out more about getting involved, please contact Bath Record Office at: archives@bathnes.gov.uk, telephone 01225 477421.

The 18th century weather diary Photo:  Freia Turland
Closer look at one of the entries.
Photo: Freia Turland

Cllr Ben Stevens, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development (LibDem, Widcombe) said: “We have always known we hold a wonderful collection of documents dating back to 1189, but have never had the opportunity to look at every single item before.

“This discovery of weather records is just one of many resulting from the detailed survey now made possible by the new funding. We’re rightly proud of our archives and details like these vastly enrich our understanding of our shared heritage as a city.”

The archivists’ work will create an online catalogue of the council’s historic collection which will be made available next year.

For more information visit the Bath Record Office website at http://www.batharchives.co.uk.