Category Archives: Fun

The Solar Eclipse of 1816

In TFB’s memoirs, there is discussion of a solar eclipse in November 1816. As there were no total eclipses of the sun visible in the UK in the nineteenth century, this must have been a partial eclipse, but there must have been quite a high coverage of the sun’s disc to have caused comment. There is a very interesting website run by the HM Nautical Almanack Office whereby you can find details of every eclipse (both lunar and solar) between 1501 and 2100 AD.

The link is

By following the links on the site you can choose the year of the eclipse, and which of the several eclipses in that year to choose from. There is also an animation which shows what you would have seen had you been in one of various locations on the day in question.

The eclipse of 19th November 1816 was total in Scandinavia but only partial across England and Wales. (The eclipse was not visible at all in either Scotland or Ireland). In London on 19th November 1816, the moon’s shadow encroached onto the sun’s disc just after 8 am, reaching its maximum of totality (72% obscuration) just after 9 am and was finished at about 10:17 am.

You can see a simulation of this if you click on

eclipse85pcA partial eclipse similar to the one Thomas Fowell Buxton observed in 1816 will occur in the UK on 20th March 2015. The eclipse will begin at 8:21 am and finish at 10:30 am. There will be 85% totality as seen in the south of England, and here’s how it should look.

But the further north you will be, the better. At Lerwick in the Shetlands, there will be 96% totality. Let’s hope for a fine day!

A zythophile . . .? What’s a Zythophile?

The English language evolves at an incredible rate, gobbling up words from other languages, and inventing new ones. Well here is one I hadn’t heard of before until yesterday – Zythophile.

It’s pronounced zee-tho-fyle. What does it mean? It means ‘a lover of beer’. It’s a word that is derived from the greek and thus its etymology should be perfectly acceptable to philologists.

So what is this to do with our hero Thomas Fowell Buxton? Well TFB was a zythophile, at least he made his living out of beer. In 1808 he joined the brewing firm of Truman and Hanbury in Brick Lane, Spitalfields and later became a partner.

tfblintel_smThe brewery closed in the late 1980’s but the buildings still remain and the the lintel over the old brewery offices at 91 Brick Lane, still carries the names of the partners ‘Truman, Hanbury and Buxton’.

Martyn Cornell, who runs a blog called ‘Zythophile’ has written a well researched post on the history of the Black Eagle Brewery of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton. You can find this by clicking this link

The brewery itself has long been sold and redeveloped into a home to bars, cafes, clothes shops, art galleries. A weekend food hall in the old boiler house has take-away food from an amazing spread of countries, There are markets on Saturdays and Sundays and exhibition halls, shows and festivals..

Recently, enthusiasts have worked to take up brewing again in the tradition of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton. The new brewery is being set up in Spring 2013 at Stour Road, Hackney Wick. The Black Eagle flies again!

Closer to home in Weymouth, we have long mused about whether a local brewery could be persuaded to create a beer in honour of Thomas Fowell Buxton. Alternatively, perhaps the Black Eagle Brewery can be persuaded to produce a commemorative beer. On the happy day when we dedicate the new monument, we could toast his memory in beer rather than champagne!,