TODAY’S ‘Object of The Week’ is a beautiful barometer that has a fascinating place in the history of weather forecasting.

It has pride of place on the wall of Redcar Lifeboat Station and owes its existence to Robert FitzRoy, who was the captain on HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin’s legendary voyage of discovery around the world.

Fitzroy, the fourth great-grandson of King Charles II, was an extraordinary scholar, scientist and philanthropist.

He was also a driving force behind the earliest safety work for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, with a particular passion for the science behind changes in the weather.

In recognition of his area of expertise, FitzRoy was appointed official meteorologist aboard HMS Beagle, in 1826, taking command two years later when the captain, Pringle Stokes, shot himself.

FitzRoy remained captain for Darwin’s second historic voyage, and went on to be elected as Durham MP, using his position in Parliament to push through legislation to improve the safety of merchant vessels.

By 1859, FitzRoy had been promoted to Vice Admiral. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the RNLI’s Committee of Management, and head of a fledgling Meteorological Department which was to become the Met Office.

That year, there were 1416 shipwrecks around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and Fitzroy was particularly dismayed by the loss of 450 men, women and children when the steam clipper Royal Charter broke up in a fierce storm off Anglesey.

FitzRoy was convinced that many lives would have been saved if bad weather could be scientifically predicted, and he pioneered the use of telegraphed shipping forecasts, and installing storm warnings through the RNLI network.

The first public weather forecast was published in The Times in 1861, three days before the Whitby lifeboat disaster of February 9, 1861, when the craft capsized in a storm and only one crew member, Henry Freeman, survived.

FitzRoy’s ground-breaking work included issuing barometers to fishing communities to make them more weather-wise, and they began to be supplied to lifeboat stations due to his RNLI connections.

It is the 17th of those historic barometers that can be found in Redcar Lifeboat Station, having originally been hung on the wall at the boathouse that houses the Zetland, the world’s oldest surviving lifeboat.

 Alongside it were FitzRoy’s detailed instructions of how to watch out for the ominous signs of bad weather.

Dave Cocks, spokesman for Redcar Lifeboat, said: “The barometer has such a wonderful back-story, and we will always be proud that it is part of our life-saving heritage too.”