Fog In Kenilworth

“Let’s be honest, despite the fact there was no fog on the nights when Jack the Ripper carried out his murders, fog was such a common occurrence in Victorian Britain that it really has seeped into the consciousness of society that the murders did take  place against a backcloth of fog, or smog.

London fogs were so famous, or should that be infamous, that visitors were most disappointed if it wasn’t foggy when they arrived in the nation’s capital.

But it wasn’t just London that was afflicted by fog.

The Kenilworth Advertiser, in its edition of on Saturday 15 December 1888, enlightened its readers as to some of the causes of fog:-


“Oh, the fog! How choky, smoky, soaky! How freezy, sneezy, wheezy! Didn’t you like it, gentle reader?

Well, I cannot sympathise with you, for I daresay you, like everybody else, had been praying for a touch of winter.

But, you ask, what necessary connection is there between fog and winter?

Only this, that after so much mild, damp weather as we have been experiencing, we could not get a fall in the temperature without fog resulting.

An illustration showing people moving around in a London fog.
A London Fog. From The Illustrated London News, Saturday 22nd December 1849. Copyright, The British Library Board.


You are still incredulous, and seek more information.

Well, you should know that the air at a temperature of 60 degs. contains nearly 6 grains of water for each cubic foot.

That isn’t much, you say.

Isn’t it?


Let us apply the figures to a large volume of air, say the quantity over the town of Kenilworth, to a height of a quart of a mile. How much water would that contain?

Why, it could, would, and often does hold in suspension more than ten times the daily water supply of the town, in the form of invisible vapour.

People going about the streets of London in a fog.
From The Illustrated London News. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Now, do you see the why and the wherefore of the damp fog? The warmer the air (and goodness knows it has been warm enough lately) the more vapour it can contain, and as the air is cooled in bulk the moisture is ultimately deposited in the form of mist or fog.

But there is something else quite as necessary as water for the formation of fog.

I mean dust.


Oh, you say, how ridiculous! Surely you must be joking!

Nothing of the kind. If there was no dust there would be no fog, for it is on the dust particles that the aqueous vapour condenses and produces the droplets that constitute fog or mist.

A scientist has calculated that a cubic inch of air taken from an ordinary room about four feet from the floor contains as many particles as there are inhabitants in Great Britain!

The mast of a ship seen in a fog on the River Thames.
The Foggy River Thames.


Can you see through that?

If not, I am afraid there is a mist (ery) somewhere, and that the fogginess of the subject has proved contagious.”