Tag Archives: William Brodie

Dunbar Barometer

This memorial to fishermen is located at Shore Street on the south corner of Dunbar harbour, East Lothian, Scotland. Dedicated to the fishermen of Dunbar, it houses a weather forecasting mercury barometer.

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The Fishery Storm Barometer, introduced to Scotland by Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy with the intention of saving lives lost at sea because of unpredicted storms, was issued to many ports along the coastline. Mr. William Brodie of Seafield Brickwork saw an example of the thermometer in Eyemouth and launched a successful subscription to install one in Dunbar.

Source: http://mtbstravaiger73.blogspot.ca/2013_07_01_archive.html
Source: http://mtbstravaiger73.blogspot.ca/2013_07_01_archive.html

The 15ft high monument of ashlar stone houses the thermometer supplied by Alexander Adie & Son Edinburgh. The year of the monument’s erection, 1856, is displayed in Roman Numerals at the top of the structure. The structure was listed a category B historic building on 5 February 1971.

Source: http://pben.info/albums/Dunbar-East%20Lothian/dunbar_album/slides/12IMG_1923a.html
Source: http://pben.info/albums/Dunbar-East%20Lothian/dunbar_album/slides/12IMG_1923a.html

A plaque beneath the thermometer case is inscribed with the legend;
“O, weel, may the Boatie row,
That wins the Bairnie’s bread!”)
Extract from “The Boatie Rows” by John Ewen (1741-1821
Note: this extract is incorrect, as the second line should read That wins my Bairnie’s bread.

Source: http://mtbstravaiger73.blogspot.ca/2013_07_01_archive.html
Source: http://mtbstravaiger73.blogspot.ca/2013_07_01_archive.html

Within the wooden display case are details of:
1.  a history of the structure
2.  the sculpture
3. how to use the barometer
4.  a letter relating displeasure at the lack of maintenance
5.  the restoration of the monument

1. The Fisherman’s Monument
This remarkable monument stands by Cromwell Harbour and holds a mercury barometer for the local fishermen’s use. It was set up by subscription in 1856 at the instance of William Drodie of Seafield at West Barns who had been impressed by the value of a public barometer at Eyemouth. Above the wooden case housing the barometer on a moulded panel there is a plaster group in a relief executed by Alexander Handyside Ritchie of Musselburgh. The group comprises, in the centre, a fisherman in his boat, with his wife evidently begging him not to sail and pointing to the barometer below. In the stern of the boat an old woman, pointing out the cloudy state of the sky to a small boy and at the bow two larger boys preparing to cast off. Above the panel, and framed by a heavy swag of seaweed, shell-fish and shells, a bulging sail hangs from a spur and bears the inscription, “Presented To The Fishermen Of Dunbar To Those Whose Perilous Industry The Burgh Owes So Much Of Its Prosperity.”

Adapted from Miller, J “The History of Dunbar” (1859)
Note: Regarding William Drodie – his name was actually William Brodie, an engineer with Seafield Brick and Tile Works.)


2. The Original Sculpture
The sculptor, Alexander Handyside Ritchie was born in Musselburgh in 1804. He trained in Edinburgh and later studied in Rome under the sponsorship of the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Minto. After his death in 1870 fellow sculptors erected a memorial stone to his memory at Inveresk cemetery where he is buried.

Creative Commons License, Stephen C. Dickson. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Handyside_Ritchie#/media/File:Grave_of_Alexander_Handyside_Ritchie,_Inveresk.JPG
Creative Commons License, Stephen C. Dickson. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Handyside_Ritchie#/media/File:Grave_of_Alexander_Handyside_Ritchie,_Inveresk.JPG

Alexander Handyside Ritchie
A devoted sculptor
A brave and true man
Born 1804 Died 1870
Erected to his memory by
Tow brother sculptors W.B. and J.R.

3. Instructions on how to use the barometer are known as Fitzroy’s Rules.

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On the left:
Long foretold Long last
Short notice Soon past
1st A steady rising Barometer which when continued shews very fine weather.
2nd In Winter the rise of the Barometer presages frost
3rd In wet weather if the Mercury rise high and remain so, expect fine weather, but if the Mercury rise suddenly very high, fine weather will not last long.
4th A rapid rise of the Barometer indicates unsettled weather, a slow movement the contrary.

N.B. The Barometer rises highest of all for North and East winds.

The scale on one side of the Diagram beneath shews the height of the Mercury at different elevations, thus at the top of Ben Nevis the Mercury stands at about 25 inches at the top of Mont Blanc about 17 inches, and at the summit of the Himalayas 5½ miles in altitude at only 11 inches.

On the right:
Fast rise after low
Foretells Stronger blow
1st If a fall takes place with a rising Thermometer Wind and Rain may be expected from the South Eastward, Southward or Westward.
2nd A fall with a low Thermometer foretells Snow or Rain.
3rd A sudden fall off the Barometer with Westerly Wind is generally followed is a violent storm from N.W. or N.E.
4th A rapid fall indicates Wind or Wind with Rain.
5th In very hot weather the fall off the Mercury denotes Thunder or a sudden fall indicates high wind.

Indications of approaching changes are shewn less by the height of the Barometer than by its falling or rising.

The Mercury falls lowest for wind and rain together, next to that for wind, except it be and East or North-east wind.

4. The following letter was printed in the East Lothian Courier on the 25th April 1865 only nine years after the monument was erected:
‘Dunbar Patriotism’
Sir, The approaching demonstration in connection with the Life-Boat forcibly recalls to mind a very important unimplemented obligation by the magistrates and Town Council meant and equally laudible effort to benefit the seafaring population. I refer to the barometer, encased in that most beautiful building, ornamented with marble sculpture which was presented to the fishermen some nine years ago. In handing over such a legacy to the keeping of the Magistrates and Council, it was stipulated by the donor that, in addition to taking charge of the instrument and building, and having the barometer set regularly by the harbour master, they were to be at the very trifling expense of erecting a lamp so as to allow the seamen to have recourse to the instrument at any hour of the night. How far such obligations (which might have been considered a labour of love) have been implemented, one only has to look at the disgraceful dirty state of the building, damaged by ruthless hands, its beautiful festoon of shells going to ruin for want of an occasional coating of oil to preserve it from the action of the atmosphere – the plate glass broken in more than one place, and a piece of patchwork, in the form of a deal board, as a substitute, reminding one of a house to let. As for a lamp, it does not even appear to have been once thought of. As lucifer matches are now so cheap, it may have been decided to continue to use them instead of a lamp, thus saving a few shillings annually to the town. For an additional protection to the building it was once suggested that the old cannons from the battery should be transformed into a sort of fence, but even that was grudged by an economical Magistracy, and the cannons sent to the founders furnace. The dirty and dilapidated condition of the barometer has become quite a by-word of late, and now that the public mind is being excited to philanthropic efforts to save valuable lives, which may be by stress of storm cast upon our iron-bound coast, I trust the state of the barometer will be immediately considered; else with the memory of many ever-to-be-regretted deeds of former officials this additional neglect may grow with infamy the very name of Dunbar. I am &c.
Dunbar, April 25, 1865

Source: http://mtbstravaiger73.blogspot.ca/2013_07_01_archive.html
Source: http://mtbstravaiger73.blogspot.ca/2013_07_01_archive.html

5. The Restoration of the Monument
The monument was restored by the Dunbar Initiative in 1997. Both replacement carvings, the swag of shellfish, seaweed and shells and the relief below were sculpted by Michelle de Bruin of Sinclairshill. The stone mason work was undertaken by John A. Smith of Athelstaneford. The replica instrumentation was supplied by James Ritchie and Son (Clockmakers) of Edinburgh.

Greyfriars Bobby

The Grave
A red granite stone commemorating a small dog was erected in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, Edinburgh by The Dog Aid Society of Scotland in 1981. The inscription reads, Greyfriars Bobby / Died 14 January 1872 / Aged 16 Years / Let His Loyalty And Devotion / Be A Lesson To Us All / Erected By The Dog Aid Society / Of Scotland And Unveiled By H.R.H. / The Duke Of Gloucester C.C.V.O. / On 13th May 1981.


Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier, is a legend of questionable historical accuracy. The fact which cannot be disputed is that a little dog lived within the Kirkyard in the mid 19th century and was fed and given shelter by local residents often showing up at Traill’s Restaurant in Greyfriars Place as if summoned by the One O’Clock gun.

1860s_John Trailfamily
John Traill’s family with Bobby

In 1867 a by-law required that all dogs be licensed by their owners with the understanding that stray or unlicensed dogs would be destroyed. The popularity and public knowledge of Bobby persuaded Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers, a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to purchase a license and award him the Freedom of the City. He also purchased a dog collar inscribed with the words: “Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed.” The collar is now in the Museum of Edinburgh, Huntly House, on the Royal Mile.

bobby oneoclockgun

There are two versions of the legend of Greyfriars Bobby, a little dog with shaggy hair hanging over his eyes and a stumpy tail that died in 14 January 1872.


Legend 1: John Gray, an unemployed gardener, joined the police force as a night watchman and was assigned a dog named Bobby (the British nickname for a policeman) to cover an area of old Edinburgh that included Upper Cowgate, the Grassmarket, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Candlemaker Row, the grounds of Heriot’s Hospital and the Cattle Market. When Gray died in 1858, Bobby followed his master into Greyfriars Kirkyard and was found lying on the grave by the curator the next morning. As dogs were not allowed inside the churchyard he was regularly chased out but continued to return. The curator, James Brown, took pity on the little animal and gave him some food. He also gave him sackcloth to lie on and local residents created a shelter for him to stay warm. He kept vigil at the grave of his master for 14 years until he died. He was then buried just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray’s grave. (Another story relates that special permission was given to open the grave of John Gray to allow his faithful companion to be interred with him.)

Version 2: Bobby, a nuisance stray that frequented Heriot’s hospital, was chased out by the gardener and took refuge in Greyfriars Kirkyard. James Brown, the curator, became fond of him and began to feed him which encouraged the little dog to frequent the churchyard on a regular basis. Visitors to the churchyard who saw Bobby believed he was a devoted dog refusing to leave his master’s grave and encouraged the curator to tell the story of Greyfriars Bobby.

It is also believed that the original Bobby died in 1867. His story had become known nationwide, and to encourage visitation to the graveyard, he was replaced with a younger dog. The Curator continued to relate the story of Bobby in Traill’s Restaurant.

The legends appear to be a fabrication as proven by the blog below which references newspaper reports and minutes of Edinburgh Council meetings. https://roundthewatertrough.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/greyfriars-bobby-a-shaggy-dog-story/

Nevertheless, the gravestone has become a shrine and fetch sticks, toys and flowers are frequently left there.

The Fountain
On 15 November 1873 a drinking fountain with a life size statue of a dog was unveiled near Greyfriars Kirkyard at the corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV bridge in Edinburgh. The red granite fountain offered drinking water to humans using stone drinking cups attached by chains until 1975. Dogs drank from an octagonal trough at ground level.

Image copyright City of Edinburgh Council, Capital Collections  www.capitalcollections.org.uk

Greyfriars Bobby_Lost Edinburgh

A plaque on the base reads A tribute / to the affectionate fidelity of / Greyfriars Bobby. / In 1858, this faithful dog followed / the remains of his master to Greyfriars Churchyard and lingered near the spot / until his death in 1872. / With permission / erected by the / Baroness Burdett-Coutts.


Inscribed on the statue is: Greyfriars Bobby, from the life just before his death and W.H. Brodie Sc RSA 1872.


The bronze statue of a terrier was sculpted by William Brodie, and donated by Baroness Burdett-Coutts, the President of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA.

The backdrop to the monument is Greyfriar Bobby’s Bar, previously known as Traill’s Restaurant. A plaque on the wall states: Greyfriars / “Bobby” / was fed here / from / 1858 to 1872.

wikimedia_kim traynor

The monument was listed a Category A historic building on 29 April 1977 and is Edinburgh’s smallest listed building.


When the fountain was first erected a gas street light stood behind the statue, and during the conversion to electricity of the city’s lights, the lamp was removed. It has now been duplicated using historic photographs and salvaged lamp columns with the assistance of a grant from Edinburgh World Heritage.

The fountain suffered damage due to vandalism and a car accident in 1984 which required repair. It was restored the following year. However, a recent custom of rubbing Bobby’s nose for luck removed the black finish and exposed the underlying brass. On 1st October 2013, Powderhall Bronze, a sculpture conservation and restoration specialist, was hired to clean, wax and re-patinate Bobby’s nose.

edinburghspotlight Greyfriars bobby