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Barometer #2002-1070King’s Hall, North Wing, Main Floor

Thermometer, barometer and barograph attached to maple support; thermometer with black curved top and bottom brackets and white backing at top; circular barometer in centre with glass face and gold rim, and inscriptions ‘Stormy/Rain/Change/Fair/Very Dry’; barograph on the bottom with removable timber-framed glass case, supported by a square maple platform.


This instrument consists of a barograph, a barometer and a thermometer. It was manufactured by Short & Mason, London, a company that was recognised as leaders in the field of barometer design. It was purchased through E. Esdaile & Sons, Sydney, a key manufacturer and retailer of scientific instruments in Australia between 1894 to 1962. It is currently (as of 2011) mounted on a maple wall bracket in King’s Hall, where it has likely been located throughout the life of the building.

It is evident that a barometer was located in King’s Hall from at least the 1940s as Warren Denning, a member of the Press Gallery at the Provisional Parliament House, mentions the instrument in his book Inside Parliament (published 1946). It is highly possible that this barometer was located in King’s Hall from the time the building was opened, as the retailer had various stamps and the one present on the barometer, ‘E. Esdaile & Sons’, establishes that this object was manufactured sometime between 1924 and 1947.

This instrument measures temperature and atmospheric pressure. It would have been an important indicator of the weather in an era that didn’t have the modern technology or instant weather forecasts that exist in current times. Denning discusses the relevance of having a barometer in the main Hall of the Provisional Parliament House of Australia in Inside Parliament:

‘Modestly placed in one corner there is a barometer, which has nothing to do with registering or forecasting the state of the political weather. Rather it is a symbol of the importance of rain in the Australian outlook. The rural members who wistfully stand before it from time to time unconsciously reveal how much the vitality of Australia depends on her rainfall’ (Denning, 1946, p. 81 ? 82).

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This barometer is significant as a component of the Heritage Collection, which comprises those pieces of furniture which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the building, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices.


Denning, Warren, Inside Parliament, Sydney: The Australasian Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd., 1946.

Powerhouse Museum, Object: Sextant, accessed via:

Powerhouse Museum, Object: Aneroid barometer made by Short and Mason, 1855 - 1900, accessed via:


Width 432mm
Height 1385mm
Depth 227mm
Medium Maple; glass; timber; metal; clock mechanism
Creator’s name Shorts & Mason, London
Date created Between 1924 and 1947