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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Gardeners’ Chronicle   [before 10 January 1852]

I suffer from the serious misfortune of a well 325 feet deep. It is worked by two buckets, and a chain, which, from its great length, is necessarily very heavy. Would a wire rope (galvanised) answer?1 This, I presume, might be tight and thin; it would have to carry, at each end, a strong and heavy bucket, holding 12 gallons. The rope would have to work over, and, I presume, once quite round, a wheel only 14 inches in diameter. Would any of your correspondents have the charity to give the result of any actual experience of light wire rope; such would be of value, probably to others, as well as to myself.2 C. R. D.


Galvanised wire had been popular since the first patent for ‘hot dip galvanizing’ was taken out in 1837 (EB).
A response appeared in the next issue, no. 3, 17 January 1852, p. 38: ‘Wire Rope (see p. 22).— I certainly cannot recommend wire rope when it is required to work round a sheave, unless the diameter of the sheave or drum is at least 3 feet. One broke with me in a very few weeks, though only 10 feet long, and the weight at the end only 70 lbs., being worn and broken where it worked over the sheave. C. L. C.


EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.


Asks readers of Gardeners’ Chronicle whether they have experience with light wire rope instead of chain in drawing water buckets from deep wells. Describes the problem of his own well with its 325 foot chain.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Gardeners’ Chronicle
Sent from
Source of text
Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 2, 10 January 1852, p. 22

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1470,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5