Whymper's London Diary, July-December 1859

Pages 170-175

The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 2008.

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Whymper's London Diary, July-December 1859

1. July. [Blank]

2. [Blank]

3. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening; Mr Millard preached both times. Fine, but is now lightening considerably and raining heavily..

4. Cleared up rooms, went on with map, parcelled wood, marked out ditto etc. Mr Stephen Green came to tea. Very fine. In evening went to Battersea Park, then over the old bridge to Chelsea, thence over the new bridge to West end Railway and by that to London Bridge. The West End and C.P. Railway was enormously expensive to construct, costing upwards of £100,000 per mile, and must be an expensive line to work, as I noticed two gradients of 1 in 95 and one of 1 in 85.

5. Went on with map of Selborne, marked wood etc. In evening went to Archbishop's grounds.

6. Went to museum, on with Tomlinson's diagrams, marked wood, finished map of Selborne and its environs etc.

7. Went to Gibson's, on with Tomlinson's diagrams etc. In afternoon went to the match at the Oval, Surrey v Oxford (16). The Oxford went in first and got 166 runs. The Surrey had 1 wicket down for [space left] when I left. Very fine and very hot. Went in evening to the P.R.A.C.C. at Peckham Rye and had a pleasant evening.

8. Began St Asaph Cathedral for Almanac, marked wood etc. Went in evening to Archbishop's Grounds and was very successful in bowling; getting 8 or 10 wickets, but in batting, alas! 0.

9. [Blank]

10. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Heard Mr Millard in morning and Mr Stokes in evening. Excessively hot.

11. Finished Tomlinson's diagrams, packing for removal, cut up wood, wrote letter, packed block etc, on with cathedral. The big clock at Westminster has at last (today) commenced striking the hours. It is too slow to suit my taste. (fn. 1)

12 to 16. Busy moving to Haslemere. [space left]

17. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. Very fine.

18. Finished Cathedral of St Asaph, cut up wood, went errands etc. My father returned today from Haslemere. We are just now in the midst of a very severe thunderstorm. The lightening is very blinding.

19 to 23. [Blank]

24. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in evening, Mr Millard preaching, and to Westminster Abbey in morning, Dean Trench officiating. My father went yesterday to Haslemere, and I am going to try to walk down next Wednesday.

25. Went to Tomlinson's, museum, Mudie's, S.P.C.K. etc, cut up wood, packed parcels etc. Fine. Today I learn the conclusion of the great cricket match between England and Surrey. Unfortunate Surrey got beaten by 430 runs; a thorough defeat. (fn. 2)

26. Finished Memmonium at Thebes, marked out lot of wood, wrote letter etc. Fred returned today from Haslemere. Very fine.

27. Finished Pyramids and Sphinx, cut up lot of wood, began East Gate at Damascus etc. Fred in evening went to the conversazione at the Royal Academy.

28. Finished East Gate, cut up lot of wood, went errands etc. Tomorrow I with several others go to Haslemere. Very hot indeed.

[No entry or date notation for July 29 to August 6. Blank space left.]

7. Sunday. Went in morning and evening to Maze Pond, Mr Millard preached, and in afternoon to Westminster Abbey. Fine.

8. Cut up wood, began some architectural drawings for Mr Murray etc. Very rainy.

9. Began the Colosseum, Rome. My father returned from Haslemere this morning, where he has been since Thursday. Exceedingly wet and rather windy. Yesterday there was a trial of the engines of the Great Eastern, [which] was perfectly satisfactory.

10. Went on with Colosseum, marked wood etc. Very wet. My uncle Ebenezer is going to the Shetland Islands shortly.

11. Went on with Colosseum. Went to Peckham in afternoon to see a match between 22 of Peckham Rye and district and the new All England Eleven. This latter lot are I believe got together by Sherman, and it will, like his other specs, not have I expect very great success. Went on to the Rye in the evening. Fine.

12. Finished Colosseum, got out wood, went on with architectural view etc. In evening went to Battersea Park to cricket; the 3 grounds are now getting in very respectable order. Very fine.

13. Went on with architectural tomb etc. Fine.

14. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning, and to Bloomsbury Chapel in the evening. Rainy.

15. Went to Skelton's and Wolf, marked wood etc, went on with architectural tomb. Father returned from Haslemere, I met him at Waterloo Station. Rainy in morning.

16. Went on with architectural tomb, altered block of Green's, marked wood, went errands etc. Fine. Went to Archbishop's Grounds in evening.

17. Went errands, marked out and cut up wood, went on with architectural tomb etc. Fine.

18. Went to Waterloo Station and to Mr Murray's to meet Dr Thomson, an army surgeon who is going to write a book on New Zealand which we are to illustrate. Marked out lot of wood, went on with architectural tomb, packed parcels etc. Fine, but very close and steamy.

19, 20. [Blank]

21. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Edwards agent of the Grand Ligne Canadian mission, preached both times.

22. Went to Bennetts, Greenfields and Gibsons, whitened wood for Walker and Green, finished Architectural Tomb etc etc. Fine.

23. Marked out lot of wood, wrote several letters, packed parcels etc, began 5 storied Pagoda. Fine. Father has gone again to Haslemere. I went to cricket to Archbishop's Grounds.

24-27. [Blank]

28. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr – sub editor of the 'Freeman' preached both times, and as usual most excellent sermons. Very fine.

29. Went on with old arch at Jerusalem, marked out wood, packed lot of parcels etc. Very wet. Father returned today from Haslemere. I learn now that the fire there was a much more serious affair than I had anticipated. [Blank space left]

30. Went to Anelay's, marked out wood etc, went on with old arch at Jerusalem, altered a block of Miller's, etc. Fine.

31. Finished old arch at Jerusalem, marked out wood etc. Fine. Today the North Lambeth C.C. played under my direction a match with the North Brixton C.C. The scores were 22 and 43 and 38 and 48 (with two wickets to fall), respectively. My share in the former scores was 2, leg before wicket, and 19 not out. It was my first match and the N.L.C.C.'s ditto; it should however be said that we were one man deficient all through both in batting and fielding.

1. September. Went errands, cut up and marked out great lot of wood, wrote letter, packed parcels, went on with architectural view no. 1 etc. Fine.

2. Went to Skelton's and Mudie's, packed parcels, marked wood, and went on with architectural view no. 1. Very wet.

3-14. at Haslemere [blank space left]

14. Returned today from Haslemere. Went to Skelton's, marked out lot of wood, packed parcels etc, began N.W. angle of wall at Jerusalem. Today's papers contained a detailed account of the barbarous treachery of the Chinese.

[space left]

15. [Blank]

16. [Blank]

17. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. Fine but chilly, autumn comes on apace.

18, 19. [Blank]

20. Finished N.W. angle of wall, began Christ Church, Jerusalem, wrote letter etc. Fine. Went to cricket at Archbishop's in evening.

21. Went on with Christ Church, wrote letter, cut up wood and attended to general business.

22. A busy day. Wrote to father and MacKewan, packed parcels etc, went to S.P.C.K. etc, went on with Christchurch, Jerusalem. In afternoon went to Peckham, and called on 8 people afterwards, and most fortunately found them all at home. Wet. The day before yesterday Tom Sayers, champion of England, fought Bob Brettle of Birmingham for 400£ to 200£ and won in 6 rounds, the chief reason of winning so easily was by Brettle's shoulder being dislocated in the 5th round.

23, 24. [Blank]

25. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening, Mr Millard preached both times. Rainy.

26. Marked wood, wrote some long letters, finished Church at Samaria, altered several drawings etc. Very rainy indeed and has been exceedingly queer weather for some weeks past.

27. [Blank]

28. Wrote letters, finished Wall of Jerusalem and began the Valley of the Kedron etc etc. In today's Times there was a letter from Dr Livingstone; announcing the discovery of another large lake in central Africa. This one which he calls Lake Shirwa is about 20 to 30 miles broad by 50 to 60 long. Fine.

29. Went errands, went to museum for Tomlinson's diagrams, marked wood, drew remains of ancient Tyre, went on with Valley of Kedron etc. Fred came up from Haslemere after a ten days sojourn there; he has just completed and sent a picture to the Winter Exhibition.

30. Went on with Valley of Kedron, drew a diagram of overhead motion, cut up and marked out wood etc. My father returned after a somewhat long sojourn at Haslemere. Very wet.

1. Oct. [Blank]

2. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. Fine. My father went to dinner at Mr Green's.

3. Went to Mudie's, Wolf's, Skelton's and Tomlinson etc, finished overhead motion, cut up, marked out great lot of wood etc. Yesterday we noticed that the Westminster clock did not strike the hours and now today we learn that the great bell, Big Ben no. 2, has cracked. (fn. 3) [space left]

4. Began Smyrna, marked out wood, wrote letter, put up safe etc etc. Excessively hot.

5. Went on with Smyrna and Tomlinson's blocks, planed lots of blocks, wrote letter, packed parcel, named 35 blocks, touched proofs etc. Very fine.

6. Named blocks, finished Rose engine, went on with Smyrna, cut up wood and out errands etc.

7. Went on with Smyrna, general business, wrote several letters etc. Father went today to Haslemere.

8. General business, wrote letters etc etc. In afternoon went to cricket at Archbishop's Grounds. Rainy. The cracking of the second great bell has of course given rise to considerable talk, everyone who has had anything to do with it is blaming everyone else and altogether it is a pretty scene.

9. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. Fine.

10. Marked out lot of wood, wrote letter, finished Smyrna, began a pinnacly iceberg etc etc. Father returned from Haslemere. He has just made a very nice sketch of a rather celebrated bridge at a little village called Eashing near Godalming. It is very picturesque and has been previously painted by Creswick, Soper and other artists.

11. Finished Pinnacly Berg, marked out and cut up lot of wood, wrote letter, began ice belt etc etc. The Great Eastern has arrived without further accident at Holyhead. In today's Times was an account of the first match that the England eleven have played in America. They played at Montreal, Canada, against 22 Canadians, and beat them easily; having 8 wickets to spare. Bravo! Old England. May they go on conquering and to conquer.

12. [Blank space, then] Father went to dinner at Mr Green's and kept out till nearly 12 o'clock.

13. Marked out wood, went on with Ice belt, named blocks etc. Today's Times contained the sad announcement of the death of Mr Robert Stephenson. Our two greatest engineers have thus died within a few days of each other. (fn. 4) They can be ill spared, for although there are men, many men, of very superior intellect in this profession yet theirs overtopped all. Their conceptions were so brilliant and the execution of their ideas so well carried out, especially in the case of Robert Stephenson who in his long career can scarcely reckon a single failure. He died at his residence in Hyde Park yesterday aged 56 years.

14. Went errands, cut up and marked out wood, finished Ice belt, began Ice foot etc. Fine.

15. Went to SPCK to meet Mr Isaacs, waited until the place was shut up and he did not come. Fine. Went in afternoon to Archbishops.

[End; note book filled up]


  • 1. The clock had been started on about the 31 May, but not until 11 July were the hours struck on the great bell. The four quarter bells were first chimed on 7 September, when Whymper was in Haslemere.
  • 2. The game was played on 21, 22, 23 July. Surrey lost by 392 runs. V. E. Walker, for England, scored a century then took all ten Surrey wickets.
  • 3. A vertical crack one foot long had appeared. With the thirteen and a half ton bell now 200 ft up, suspended above the clock mechanism, it was decided not to recast the bell, but to turn it ninety degrees and fit a lighter hammer. The original chimes restarted in 1862, and have, with some interruptions, continued ever since.
  • 4. Isambard Kingdom Brunel had died on 15 September.