Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Lighthouse Weather Alphabet

Dungeness Lighthouse in the days before automation - the base of an older version is behind it.
If you're getting fed up with Twelve Days of Christmas Rain you might enjoy pretending that you're a lighthouse keeper, charged with keeping an accurate record of the weather twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

Keepers were provided with hefty journals by their employer, Trinity House, in which they recorded every four hours the temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind force and direction and, lastly, the state of the weather. Here's a suitably wintry sample...

 The State of the Weather was recording using a special lighthouse keeper's alphabet. Please note the very important distinction between Overcast, Gloomy and Ugly.
This wonderful alphabet was sent to me by the very helpful Association of Lighthouse Keepers, after I saw a Lighthouse/Vessel Journal in a display case at the wonderful Dungeness Lighthouse - a place I would thoroughly recommend visiting. From the top the French coast looked perilously close. Back in 1066 it would have offered the perfect vantage point if you wanted to watch the Norman fleet approaching... The keepers must have been calves of iron after climbing that spiral staircase ten thousand times.

The old Dungeness Lighthouse today, with nuclear power station
The newest Dungeness Lighthouse, with shingle

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