A weather station in Brian's garden. See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
September 30, 2014
This week I was lucky enough to see a wonderful example of detailed and beautifully presented local history. I knew Brian Wheatley kept weather records - I had seen the small weather station in his garden, and I knew he collaborated with Meridian News on some of their weather stories. But at Brian's eightieth birthday party, he agreed to spread out on a table in his living room, the result of careful weather observations made daily since 1963. These records were remarkable. Everyday was there in carefully presented metrics. There was the mundane, like my birthday in October 1963, which was drizzily with a fine evening - and the dramatic. I explored that memorable night when we were almost marooned by floods on Christmas Eve 2013, seeing that event in Brian's charts as a remarkable trough in the pressure line, and a jump in the rainfall measure.
History is often selective in what it considers important, when in reality we cannot know what information people might come to value. Details about a drizzily day in October 1963 might not seem important to an eminent historian, but they were fascinating to me. A true historical record will ignore judgements of importance and record in conscientious detail exactly what happened. Brian's weather log is an example of this kind of painstaking record keeping. I loved looking at it.
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Historical news for October
For the last thirty years the Turner Prize has been highlighting the work of new British artists. On 30th September the Turner Prize 2014 Exhibition opens at the Tate in London. For more details go to http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/turner-prize-2014
An exhibition exploring the sources, techniques and stories behind famous paintings by John Constable opens in late September at the V&A London. Pictures involved include the Haywain and Salisbury Cathedral From The Meadows. The exhibition runs 20th September - 11th January 2015. Telephone 020 7942 2000
Smallhythe Place in Kent, former home of actors Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, has its own theatre, which has been refurbished over the winter. Free backstage tours are available on twenty seven dates between the end of July and the end of October. For more details go to http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/whats-on/find-an-event/
London grew up around a bridge over the Thames. An exhibition exploring the significance of London's bridges opened at the end of June at the Museum of Docklands. The exhibition uses historical art works and the museum collections to tell the story. The exhibition runs 27th June - 2nd November. Telephone 020 7001 9844.
Anniversaries for October
2nd October 1925: John Logie Baird transmits the first black and white television picture, of the head of a ventriloquist's dummy called Stooke Bill.
3rd October 1952: Britain becomes the world's third nuclear power following detonation of a nuclear device in the hold of a frigate off the Montebello Islands, Western Australia.
6th October 1927: The Jazz Singer, the first full length talking picture opens. Al Jolson's first words in the film were "wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet."
8th October 1829: A steam engine called the Rocket wins the Rainhill Trials. The Rocket's designers, George and Robert Stevenson are awarded the contract for providing locomotives on the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
13th October 1884:Greenwich in London is established as the prime meridian from which all distances east and west would then be calculated.
19th October 1812: After an attempt to conquer Russia, Napoleon begins his retreat from Moscow. Around 380,000 French soldiers died in the Russian winter during the retreat.
27th October 1914: the British battleship HMS Audacious is sunk after striking a mine off the west coast of Ireland. This loss was considered so serious that the it was not officially announced until after the end of World War One in 1918.
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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.