Just off Manchester’s busiest shopping street, you’ll find Boardman’s Entry, a short passageway that features four metal umbrella tops hanging overhead. A strange sight you’ll agree, with no signage nearby to explain their presence.
But these curious umbrellas are not just random public art — they’re in fact an unusual tribute to one of Manchester’s most famous sons.
Born in 1766, John Dalton is famous for both devising atomic theory and for his research into color blindness. So why the umbrellas? Another of Dalton’s lifelong interests was the study of the weather.
From the age of 21, Dalton kept detailed metrological records, generally making entries three times a day. He was interested in the relationship between mathematics and meteorology, and invented a number of tools to measure humidity, atmospheric pressure, temperature, and so on. Dalton’s diligence resulted in 200,000 entries over the next 57 years of his life. In fact, his last recorded words were a weather report for the Manchester Guardian in 1844: “60, 71, 30.18, SW 1, Little Rain.”
Nearby are Dalton Entry and Mulberry Passage, both of which are also dedicated to the Manchester scientist, though neither of them so uniquely decorated. Boardman’s Entry features the three hanging umbrellas, as well as engravings of beakers and other scientific equipment, two crossed umbrellas on the King Street entrance, and three faces (presumably modeled after Dalton) on the South King Street entrance.
Update January 2020: The umbrellas have been removed and whether they’ll be returned in the future is unknown.
Know Before You Go
Boardman's Entry is connected to St. Ann's Passage, and runs between King Street and South King Street.