Thursday, 17 April 2014

O is for Oxygen

Here are the local dialect words starting with the letter O.  Do you know what odds means? What does of mean? What does over-get mean?  The answers are at the end of this post.
Today's story takes us to the town of Calne, about 17 miles north east of Trowbridge.  We need to go back to the 1770s and the work of Joseph Priestley, who moved to the town in 1773.  For a while he resided at the house shown in the following photograph - No 19, The Green.

He worked at Bowood Estate (at Derry Hill, just outside of Calne) for the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, acting as the librarian of the house and tutor to the Earl's sons.   His duties gave him plenty of free time which allowed him to continue with his theological interests and scientific experiments. His scientific interest was in 'airs'.  During his time in Calne he published a number of scientific texts, all relating to his observations of, and experiments on, the different types of 'air'. He observed the air bubbles rising in the River Marden and at this bend in the river he collected the gasses for his experiments.

The bend in the river is now named Doctor's Pond after him.
It was in his laboratory in Bowood House in 1774 that he isolated a new gas which he called 'dephlogisticated air' - he had actually isolated and discovered oxygen.  His earlier work, later recognised as gaseous diffusion, was the starting point which lead Dalton and Graham to formulate the kinetic theory of gases.
Here are the answers to today's dialect words: 
  • odds - to change, to set right
  • of - with
  • over-get - to overtake or to catch up
I'll be back tomorrow with the letter P.


  1. Before I read this post, I had never thought about the person who 'discovered' oxygen. I enjoyed reading your interesting post about the scientist who identified the element without which we couldn't live.

    By the Way, I am also taking part in Four Seasons: Spring Challenge and A to Z Challenge.

  2. A very interesting post. The photos are beautiful. I love learning local history. And thank you for stopping by my blog, otherwise I might never have found your very interesting blog.