Introduction and Instrumentation

This (constantly updated!) website was first launched in February 2020. I hope to bring as much actual and historical recorded weather information & data into the public domain as possible. This is likely to include many of the years from before 1950 & right up to the present date! All of this is to preserve the data for present & future generations to look at, at their convenience. Although mainly concentrated upon Cornwall’s general meteorological data, there is also going to be a lot of data added from right across the British Isles as time proceeds!

I aim to add at least one new page per week and sometimes more, but please be sure to keep checking back regularly to see what has been newly added to this website!

I am Paul Richards & I run Stithians Weather Station in Cornwall, UK, – a private weather station that has been in active continuous operation for 35 years now. The height of the Weather Station is 120m (396ft) above M.S.L. & is at Grid Ref: SW738371. (Our ‘original’ Lat/Long position has been found to be very slightly erroneous and is now confirmed to be at 50.11.’23N/05.10.’15W.) Please use this new reference for all of our previous data sheets. We are a Meteorological Office registered rainfall station (No: 379547). An extensive rain gauge site inspection is carried out every 3 years by members of staff from the Environment Agency & the Meteorological Office. This is to ensure that all of the equipment, exposure and site are standard & therefore, all of the readings are fully comparable with other registered rainfall stations in the network.

I am a former self-employed professional Meteorologist working for British Weather Services (Jim Dale & Adrian Crocker) from approx. 1993-1997, supplying daily fax. weather forecasts for their Cablecom premium telephone service (which was located in London) using radio-fax & fax equipment which was installed at my home.

I also have a Royal Naval military background serving as a member of the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (Service No. 04593) from 1979-1991 in the Communications section: Teleprinter Operations – the handling & distribution of classified documents (& also Radio Communications) of the Falmouth Unit. The teleprinters used were G.P.O. Type 15 (Creed 444) which were light-bluish in colour. The radios used were dark green (and very old!) ex-Army radio Tx/Rx 626 rigs (with a plug-in M/F 3 ft. long green aerial). I believe that many of these rigs were also used in Northern Ireland – around 1969-1971). With the introduction of new computer technology, basically teleprinters became obsolete! (If you are interested in finding out more about Creed teleprinters, then please have a look at this very good and informative site!): baudot.net/creed.htm

Way before my time – but so very similar in many respects, (apart from the ‘pipe-smoking’ Naval Officers!), this WWII T/P operator’s story is well worth having a look at! bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/69/a2060669.shtml

I can now reveal (after some 30 years!) that we dealt with very many classified teleprinter Royal Naval military messages with some of the most relevant details now following:

stithiansweather.co.uk/copy-of-military-radio-operators-log-2/ This is the standard form used by radio-operators (R/O’s) to log incoming and outgoing radio traffic. (these were most often used with the very old ex-Army 626 Tx/Rx radio rigs!)

stithiansweather.co.uk/message-form-f-sigs-266/ This is the standard form that was used for drafting both ‘Unclas’ (unclassified) and various ‘Classified’ messages. These were used both for teleprinter and radio messages. Each and every message, both incoming and outgoing, had to be separately logged on ‘In’ and ‘Out’ log sheets. All of these were totalled up at every midnight. When typing out a ‘drafted’ message, this was done via a ‘perforated’ (2 CM wide) paper tape (5 ‘dots’ with a ‘cog’ (or spigot) running space after the second dot) which came out of the teleprinter. When receiving a message this was done via a ‘reperforator’, via a (2 CM wide) ‘perforated’ paper tape (5 ‘dots’ with a ‘cog’ (or spigot) running space after the second dot) which came out of the teleprinter. The (perferator) tape could then be used to send the T/P message ‘up the line’. All tapes were written (with a biro) with a DTG at the top, folded up and clipped with a standard paper clip and then attached to the original message to be kept for future reference. After 24 hours, the tapes were taken off and put into a separate cardboard box. Sometimes a teleprinter ‘line race’ would occur. This was when the teleprinter was not ‘in service’ and the synchronous T/P motor would run continuously. It would only stop when the next signal had ‘started’ in order for it to be received.

(Most of the general public will never have seen one of these ‘message form f-sigs 266’ forms ever before!)

TOR: = Time of Receipt

TOT: = Time of Transmission

There were four separate ‘Precedences’ (for message handling): (Z,O,P,R)

Z = Flash: Up to, or less than 10 minutes.

O = Immediate: Up to 30 minutes max.

P = Priority: Up to 3 hours max

R = Routine: When traffic allows, but no later than the next duty day.

There were 5 separate (Military) Security Classifications: (U,R,C,S,T):

U = Unclas (or Unclassified) – ( I saw many of these!)

R = Restricted – (I saw many of these!)

C= Confidential – (I saw many of these!)

S = Secret – (I saw a very limited number of these – about 5% at most of all of the messages received – a ‘WOW’ – a ‘Secret’ was commented upon in the COMMCEN when one was received – and the on-duty staff would ‘frantically run around’ to deal with it!)

T = Top Secret – (I never ever once saw one of these in my Service!)

At the top (header) and the bottom (footer) there would be the Security Classification. (Black ink stamp for ‘Unclas’ (Unclassified) , & Red ink stamp for the rest). If it was ‘unclas’, then it would be a ‘single’ spaced type, – but if it was a ‘Restricted’, ‘Confidential’ or ‘Secret’ classification, then it would be ‘double’ spaced (for ‘Secret’ only each individual ‘number’ of copies which would have to be ‘signed-for’ separately, with each copy being separately assigned for in law). The ‘end’ (ENDEX) (or ‘end of exercise’) for these ‘SECRET’ signals would either be ‘burned’ (or ‘pulped’) – these most often were just ‘burned’ (under the supervision of at least one other person!). All of these signals were either involved in a ‘live’ exercise or a ‘paper’ exercise. ‘Paper’ exercises were those that went through a pre-determined number of very many messages, one after the other and one after the other. ‘Live’ exercises were ones which involved real warships – this often resulting in very long periods of (boring) inactivity and then a whole load of messages in one go! Also, at the change of watch, there was a ‘book muster’ of Classified books – totalling up all of the books to see that none were missing or unaccounted for.

Incidentally, if you keep an eye out for ‘Sky’ type programmes – (more especially their documentaries about UFO’s), then you may well see a ‘declassified’ (originally ‘classified’) message & you will see a ‘5 line vertical preamble’ (following NNNN ZCZC). (If you look at what I have written (above & below, then you should be able to decode most of the information in these first five lines!). ZNY = Classified message. ZNR = Unclassified message. Then a line: UUUUU= Unclassified. RRRRR = Restricted. CCCCC = Confidential. SSSSS = Secret. (Precedence comes next) (Z,O,P or R) There will also be a line which includes a D.T.G. (or ‘Date Time Group’) which should read something like: 101845Z Jul 98. This means that the original message was drafted on the 10th July, 1998 at 1845Z (G.M.T.). Also, there is a ‘Julian Date’. This goes from 001 to 365 (366 for leap years!) which confirms the actual date that the message was originally drafted.

After this there is: FM: (From),

TO: (To), Such as (for example) ‘SOO’ : = Staff Officer Operations or ‘DO’ = Duty Officer. NOIC: = Naval Officer in Charge. NCSO: = Naval Control of Shipping Officer., etc, etc. (Then – for example):

AIG = Allied Intelligence Group

CTG (Number: ‘xxx’) = Carrier Task Group

CSG: (Number: ‘xxx’) = Carrier Strike Group

INFO: (*Info)

BT: (Meaning ‘Break’)

Security Classification (spaced out): (U,R,C,S, or T in Capital letters)

SIC: (Subject Indicator Code)

(*These were usually, (but not always) ‘Routing Indicators’ (as above): K = Internal U.S. Military/Government or ‘RU’ = USA. Or, alternatively in the U.K: CINCFLEET, (Commander-in Chief Fleet: Northwood), CINCHOME, (Commander-in Chief Home: Portsmouth), CINCCHAN (Commander-in Chief: Portsmouth), FOSNI, (Flag Officer Scotland & Northern Ireland: Rosyth), or FOP, (Flag Officer Plymouth), (H.M.S. Drake, Devonport), FOST: (Flag Officer Sea Training: Portsmouth) and also NATO = (Atlantic): CINCLANT, COMNORLANT, COMEASTLANT, COMWESTLANT, SACEUR, (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) etc, etc. (These ‘NATO’ ones were always American Naval Commanders!)

(The text of the message then follows):

All of these messages followed a very strict format & ‘Brevity’ – or ‘as short as possible in text’ was ‘mandatory’ and had to be fully adhered to!

Then, there was a ‘BT’, then ‘4 Carriage Returns’ and ‘8 Line Feeds’ before ‘NNNN’ to end the message).

All teleprinter landlines were ‘secure’ lines (which were provided and overseen by BT)

Some messages were SITREP’s (or Situation Reports) & some of them were INTREP’s (or Intelligence Reports), as well as SATINTREP’s (Satellite Intelligence Reports).

In the Falmouth Unit there was also a secure ‘encrypted’ telephone (in a green box) that the Naval Officers could use (during exercises) if necessary.

International Routing Indicators: RU = U.S.A. (N.A.T.O) These messages were always prioritised to go ‘first’ above everything else! RB: = British Isles. (We ONLY ever sent messages to the UK. & the U.S.A.!).

At the time of the Falklands War in 1982, we were very much on the edge of having to take over the COMMCEN (Communications Centre) at R.N.A.S. Culdrose. (This used to be located underground, beneath their ‘married quarters block’ which is opposite the aerodrome’s main entrance) as so many of their personnel had been posted to serve in this particular war! It was around this time that we received a visit from a group of U.S. Naval Officers (both male and female) who were moored up on a U.S. Navy ship in Falmouth Docks. Also visiting at the same time were a group of Royal Naval Marines. All of them were very friendly and were also a fantastic group of people!

In 1985 I undertook the standard Royal Naval Teleprinter Course at H.M.S. Drake in Devonport and I obtained 23 Words Per Minute with a 99% accuracy pass.

The Falmouth unit routing indicator was RBDHXL and the Plymouth (Mount Wise) routing indicator was RBDHC. This ‘local hub’ was located at H.M.S. Drake, Devonport. The ‘main hub’ worked into was at R.A.F. Rudloe Manor in Wiltshire (RBDH). Both of these latter establishments were situated securely underground. The teleprinter network used was the ‘D.T.N.’ or the ‘Defence Teleprinter Network’. Just before I finished my service in 1991, the classified signals traffic became more ‘computerised’ with green screens being installed! These were thence routed into CinC Fleet H.Q. Northwood, Middlesex. This was later renamed the Joint Operational Command Centre, (R.N/R.A.F.) and is again located securely underground!).

All of the information above I can now reveal (after some 30 years or so!), so as to confirm our Royal Naval maritime history for future military historians to then discover!

I feel that all of this previous Military ‘history’ should never be lost!

The majority of the British public would have absolutely no idea about any of this at all! I also feel very privileged to have been at the heart of these messages that were going ‘to and fro’ at the height of the ‘Cold War’ in the early 1980’s! I would have not missed all of this for the world!

(As a postscript – in 1994, following the disbandment of the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (R.N.X.S.) following a Defence review, the new Maritime Volunteer Service was formed in it’s place. Many of their personnel were previous members of the R.N.X.S & their website can be found at: mvs.org.uk )

It should be noted that nowadays (2022) – since 02 April 2014, the Security Classifications are now completely different, – having now been changed to such as ‘Official’, (including ‘Official Sensitive’), ‘Secret’ & ‘Top Secret’.

All of our Stithians Weather Station data sheets will now be added on a monthly basis into the future. The pages previously put on here have been enlarged for ease of reading. I have added the Beaufort Wind Scale (please find this in the ‘Useful Weather Website Links’ section under the heading ‘Other useful weather links’). Other pages are likely to be added regularly. (In time, perhaps also the inclusion of ‘live’ data streams from our weather station as better and more technologically advanced instrumentation is introduced). The website itself is mainly likely to be composed of an increasingly extensive ‘historical weather data archive’ and it is hoped that this will be of interest to both those who live locally and also those further afield. With very many years of continuous data being added, it is hoped and envisaged that weather researchers, Climatic Scientists & other Professionals in the Meteorological field may well also be interested in our recorded data in the future.

I have added the complete series of Annual Rainfall data sheets from my previous long-standing weather recording station at Penryn (College Farm) which was the registered Met. Office Rainfall Station No: 379710. These cover the years from 1971-1986 inclusive. It has been noted that, for some reason, there is a discrepancy as to the ‘station height’. In the early years it was ’79ft’ above sea level and later on it was ‘120ft’ above sea level. It is now very likely that the former (79ft) was most probably correct!

I hold a whole load of Meteorological data (mainly from Cornwall, but also from the rest of the U.K.) and I now intend to add this to the data already on here in the coming months and years!

CURRENT WEATHER STATION INSTRUMENTATION:

Wind: These measurements comprise 2 anemometers and 1 wind vane (of a yacht design) atop a 16ft high, (3 stayed, white polypropylene) aluminium mast. Mean wind velocities (in knots) are estimated at present (as the anemometers no longer send radio data!) and all wind directions are as read from ground level at the observation time. The maximum winds are in knots and are also estimated (from midnight to midnight G.M.T. daily).

Rainfall: These measurements are obtained using a Meteorological Office registered M.O. Mk II Splayed base pattern rain gauge. This is a standard 5″ (125.5mm) diameter rain gauge which is exactly 1ft.(301.2mm) above ground level. This is all standard and is officially recognised. The rainfall measure is a certified glass Halcyon (10.5mm capacity) tapered measure. The spare one is a Casella London 16305 glass tapered measure (10.0mm capacity). All rainfall measurements are done at 0900 G.M.T. throughout the year and are thrown back to the previous day and again, this is also a standard and recognised procedure.

Temperature: These readings are obtained using two Six’s thermometers, one a (manually reset by a button) TFA plastic Min/Max Thermometer MET-H10 (this replaced an ancient Diplex one on 06/01/2022) and the other, a ClimeMet battery powered LCD Six’s type thermometer (both supplied by Metcheck), (all of our thermometry is currently ‘non-standard’, but they are all accurate and they act as check thermometers against each other). A ClimeMet CM3505 Masons Wet & Dry Bulb Hygrometer (C) (supplied by Metcheck) was installed in the thermometer screen on 14th August, 2021. The readings from this instrument began on 1st September, 2021. A Casella Instruments Humidity Slide Rule (supplied by Metcheck) arrived on 25th August and this will be used with the Mason’s Hygrometer mentioned above. After the failure of the original Oregon Scientific outdoor (radio) temperature sensor, this was replaced by a new outdoor (radio) temperature sensor unit. This is linked to a ClimeMET CM9088 Temperature & Humidity Forecast Station (supplied by Metcheck) which was installed on 13th November, 2021. All instruments are mounted at a standard 4ft above ground level in a standard (M12) Excel small Stevenson Screen which is made of acrylic & polycarbonate & is mounted on a brushed aluminium four legged base (M9). Both the screen and the base were supplied by Metcheck and are white in colour and these were installed in July 2014. (These replaced a previous small Casella made wooden thermometer screen and base which had lasted a total of 39 years – and had eventually completely rotted & rusted out – it did very well, but eventually – it just had to go!)

Atmospheric Pressure: These readings are supplied by an indoor Oregon Scientific LCD unit. Pressure readings are increased (by 14mb) to Mean Sea Level (Q.N.H.) from ‘station level’ (Q.F.F.) as is also standard procedure. All M.S.L. readings are very comparable to local amateur weather stations, such as at our most nearby station at Carnkie, (www.carnkieweather.co.uk) and also at Newquay, (www.newquayweather.com) as well as at R.N.A.S. Culdrose, the Isles of Scilly (St. Mary’s Airport) and Newquay Airport.

Observations: The main full observation is carried out daily throughout the year at 0900 G.M.T. and a lesser one (covering air temperature (C) and M.S.L. air pressure (mb) is done at 2100 G.M.T. daily, again throughout the year).

Our Recorded Data: As well as putting all of our recorded information onto this website, we also send weekly data directly to the Weathernet Organisation in Bournemouth and monthly rainfall data (via the Environment Agency in Bodmin) to the Meteorological Office. We also send monthly weather data to Terry Mayes at the Weather Observer’s Network in Colchester, Essex.

Other Interests: Although my main and dominating interest is meteorology, I have a number of different hobbies. These include all helicopter & fixed-wing (more especially military) air operations.

In 1977 I applied for a position in the R.A.F. as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller, but unfortunately, I did not succeed in this particular ambition!

I also served for a few years on the Stithians Parish Council, which was a very enjoyable experience!

My other long standing interests are archaeology & all history, (more especially medieval), family history research and the collection of old and antique bottles (mainly from 1840-1920).

Please note that I am still new to the world of ‘building a website’ and I am learning as I go along!