Old, yellowed papers marked with cursive handwriting, with a magnifying glass resting on the top.

Private Weather Diaries

These diaries cover periods before and after the foundation of the office and are usually the only source of data for the period before 1854. Some also provide a unique source on social history, phenology (observations of nature), and gardening. The diaries vary greatly in size, number of elements covered and regularity of observations and also in the period covered; some may cover several decades whilst others are only for a few months.

Example of a private weather diary

Most useful for

The diaries are useful for research covering periods before 1854 or shortly after whilst the official network was still being established.

Things to bear in mind

Whilst many diaries comprise observations taken with great care the sites were not official and therefore accuracy of readings can be affected by poorly positioned instruments and use of non-standard instruments which may not have been calibrated accurately. There tend to be more diaries for heavily populated areas, such as London with large gaps in rural areas like Wales. In addition, the earlier the period
you are interested in the fewer diaries will be in the collection and depending on your research you may find the nearest available location may be a considerable distance from that in which you are interested.