Memories from a Norfolk weather station in its early days

Weather equipment. Pictured: Hemsby Met Station Cintel Radio Sonde Telemetering. Date: November 4, 1964

Weather equipment. Pictured: Hemsby Met Station Cintel Radio Sonde Telemetering. Date: November 4, 1964 - Credit: Archant Library

Today we are taking a trip down memory lane to the old Hemsby Weather Station in Ormesby Road. 

More officially known as Hemsby Meteorological Station, the site first opened in 1951.

OCCUPATIONSHEMSBY METEOROLOGICAL STATIONWEATHER BALLOONDATED 2ND NOVEMBER 1953PLATE

OCCUPATIONS HEMSBY METEOROLOGICAL STATION WEATHER BALLOON DATED 2ND NOVEMBER 1953 PLATE P3564 - Credit: Archant Library

OCCUPATIONSWORKER AT HEMSBY METEOROLOGICAL STATIONDATED 2ND NOVEMBER 1953

OCCUPATIONS WORKER AT HEMSBY METEOROLOGICAL STATION DATED 2ND NOVEMBER 1953 - Credit: Archant Library

In November 1964, a new radar system was installed to measure wind direction and speed at high altitudes – valuable data of great importance in the days of lightning and supersonic aircraft research.

It automatically locked onto an umbrella-shaped radar reflector beneath a balloon as seen in our image of Donald Stockton. He is wearing a face visor as a precaution when handling a hydrogen-filled balloon, leaving the balloon bay for a routine release.

Weather equipment. Pictured: Donald Stockton with balloon Hemsby Met Office. Date: Nov 4 1964

Weather equipment. Pictured: Donald Stockton with balloon Hemsby Met Office. Date: Nov 4 1964 - Credit: Archant

Mary Carey (née Rushen) worked at the centre in the early 1960s. Mrs Carey’s work included filling a hydrogen balloon with gas from a tank, which when released with its transmitter, would be tracked on radar and the incoming data was recorded and transmitted to another Met Office in Bracknell.

In 2006, she told the Mercury about working there: “After training at Stanmore, in Middlesex, I was posted to Porton Down, but this meant long periods of time away from home, so I applied for a transfer to an East Anglian base. Met Offices at the time were often all-male bastions and it took some time before the Met Office agreed 'to give it a try' by accepting females to work alongside men.

Hemsby M.E.T office scientist Chris Wilkinson holds the Radiosonde "rig" a high altitude weather balloon in 1993

Hemsby M.E.T office scientist Chris Wilkinson holds the Radiosonde "rig" (high altitude weather balloon) which measures pressure, temperature and humidity. Date: November 16 1993 - Credit: Archant Library

"Although I was the first female to be posted to Hemsby, my transfer took a while, and by the time I arrived in February 1962, another female was already working there. But the frosty air was very apparent when without the courtesy of a 'hello', I was greeted with 'you’re on equal pay, you’ll do equal work'!

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“During that first week in freezing weather, I struggled with the icy gas valves and the giant balloon, nearly in tears through frustration and cold,” said Mrs Carey.

OCCUPATIONSHEMSBY METEOROLOGICAL STATIONDATED 2ND NOVEMBER 1953PLATE P3562

OCCUPATIONS HEMSBY METEOROLOGICAL STATION DATED 2ND NOVEMBER 1953 PLATE P3562 - Credit: Archant Library

The Hemsby Weather Station closed in 2001 and lay derelict for many years before eventually being demolished. 

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