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Why Great Yarmouth is not on the weather map

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 January 2019

Autumn, and the paddle tug Gleaner tows Scottish herring sailing drifters into the harbour in 1909.

Autumn, and the paddle tug Gleaner tows Scottish herring sailing drifters into the harbour in 1909.

Archant

Although it is still "In the bleak mid-winter", we can start thinking about our summer holidays.

Calm waters but snowy land...a picturesque wintry scene , possibly in the 1970s.Calm waters but snowy land...a picturesque wintry scene , possibly in the 1970s.

As usual, a major consideration is the expected weather at our chosen destination.

But wherever we choose, cautious Brits usually pack a raincoat and a woolly jumper... just in case.

My morning newspaper lists worldwide weather statistics. At the time of penning this column, yesterday the Britain table said it was showery in Leeds, temperatures varying between 7 and 12 degrees Centigrade (44-54 Fahrenheit); under “European”, Valencia’s Spanish sunshine gave a high of 17C and a low of 4C (62-39F); while “Worldwide”, in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) it was partly cloudy but hot at 22-29C (72-84F).

Great Yarmouth? We are never listed anywhere, as far as I know.

High summer and a crowded shore, but nonetheless many men wore suits even to enjoy Great Yarmouth's Central Beach 110 years ago in 1909.High summer and a crowded shore, but nonetheless many men wore suits even to enjoy Great Yarmouth's Central Beach 110 years ago in 1909.

Ninety-two other UK towns and cities have their sunshine hours, maximum and minimum temperatures and daytime weather (showers, sunny, windy, cloudy etc) officially reported daily in my national newspaper.

Norfolk? Only King’s Lynn is included.

Our listed rival resorts include Bournemouth, Bridlington, Brighton, Channel Islands, Eastbourne, Isles of Wight and Scilly, Newquay, Ramsgate, Rhyl, Skegness, Southend and Weymouth.

I believe all the UK ones are officially passed to the media by the Meteorological Office using data submitted by accredited sources in the locations listed. The “Met” is strict about the accuracy and the credentials of those taking the readings.

That stringency ensures that no resort doctors the sunshine hours and temperature readings to entice more visitors.

Decades ago, the alleged figures for one East Coast resort were reportedly collected and submitted daily by... its publicity officer!

Perhaps the figures are interesting and important to some people, boring and disregarded by others.

Has the borough of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston’s tourism suffered by its weather data being absent from those officially published records for, I believe, about 40 years?

The simple answer is that there is no way of finding out.

Although Yarmouth had a weather station dating back decades, in 1907 the council thought about establishing a twin-location one - beach gardens near the Jetty for all instruments except for the rain gauge sited in St George’s Park, the costs being £100, £50 for annual maintenance; plus the fee for the daily telegram to national recording bureaux.

But this was vetoed, a council committee instead buying a £9 sun recorder and a £1.50 set of charts, asking the Shipwrecked Sailors’ Home on Marine Parade (today the borough publicity headquarters) to site the recorder on its roof, adding a wind-speed and direction recorder. And it spent £7.50 on a rain measure for the park.

Perhaps in the 1960s, the location was switched to riverside gardens in Gorleston, readings logged by coastguards working at their nearby pier-head HQ and conveyed to the “Met” national office in Berkshire.

A decade later, HM Coastguards realised that developments in technology meant there was no longer a need for maintaining constant visual sea surveillance, most incidents being far out of sight anyway, so the pier-head look-out became redundant and its duties transferred to the eight-storey Havenbridge House in Yarmouth.

That meant coastguards no longer passed the Gorleston weather-station any more, but it seemed logical to move the weather-recording apparatus on to the high roof of Havenbridge House - a possibility rejected by officialdom which also belatedly voiced disquiet about its long-standing pier gardens site readings perhaps being distorted by adjacent bushes.

Understandably, our borough council was anxious to continue to supply data and sought a solution.

A Bradwell resident offered to do it for a small fee, and the weather station was moved there, only for the “Met” office to point out that Bradwell was not Gorleston.

Yarmouth Racecourse was another no-no, as was the Air Ministry weather station at Hemsby.

I doubt if Yarmouth will ever return to the official list. Meanwhile, I’ll go out for a stroll. I wonder if it’s pouring with rain, or snowing, or sunny, or windy out there...

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