My research into the history of Lake District tourism has turned up a few surprising connections with early American visitors to the region. Foremost among these is scientist and statesmen Benjamin Franklin, who paid a visit to the Lakes in 1772 – three years before the American Revolutionary War.
It seems surprising that Franklin’s time in the Lakes hasn’t garnered more attention. Being a man of irrepressible curiosity, he was hardly an idle tourist. He eagerly explored the wonders of the region in the company of Sir John Pringle (future President of the Royal Society) and the local physician and chemist Dr William Brownrigg.
These men of science clearly got on famously, despite the trouble then brewing between Britain and its American colonies. The three of them even found time to conduct an influential experiment that involved pouring oil into Derwentwater. Franklin’s account of that experiment later appeared as an article in the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions in 1774, and it went on to influence the modern study of intermolecular forces and fluid mechanics.
Interested to know more? Please see Chris’s article about Franklin’s time in the Lakes in the current issue of Cumbria Life.
Back to News