Britain’s Wild Weather – 1960

By Paul Homewood

 

 

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Every year there seems to be a competition amongst the TV channels to see who can produce the most fraudulent documentary on Britain’s “wild weather”. The format is always the same – show a few clips of a storm, flood or bit of sunny weather, and claim that we never had anything like it before.

So far this year, however, they will be stretched to find anything to scare the public with. A nice summer that was nowhere near as hot as 1976, or for that matter 1826, and which was only the sixth driest. And that is just about it!

Heaven knows what Justin Rowlatt and his chums would have made of the 1960s, which, for anybody who is old enough to remember knows, showed what wild weather really looked like.

In an occasional series I will review the decade, starting with 1960.

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Britain’s Wild Weather in 1960

 

The year started with some heavy snow in mid-January, but nothing out of the ordinary. And the weather behaved itself throughout the next few months. However June brought a sign of things to come.

The month began dry and sunny, with temperatures reaching 85F. But this was followed by thunderstorms which led to extensive flooding, particularly in the Midlands. Towards another outbreak of thunderstorms spread from Dorset to Suffolk with exceptional rainfall:

 

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The summer carried on going downhill. July was cool and wet, and so too was August. Heavy rain early in the month caused widespread and damaging floods in Sussex, with Brighton hit by two months of rainfall in 3 days. Later in the month it was to be Norther Ireland, SW Scotland and the Midlands which suffered disastrous floods:

 

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The weather was to get much worse though, with a series of heavy rain systems crossing the country in September, causing more extensive flooding:

 

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But it was Exeter which really bore the brunt at the end of September:

 

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For the month as a whole, Exeter and the surrounding area received 250% of its monthly average rainfall.

People were entitled to think that it could not get any worse. But it did!

Statistically large parts of England had three times the average rainfall in October, which was the second wettest on record. The total rainfall for July to October was also said to be the highest on record:

 

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But statistics only tell part of the story.

The South West, which had already suffered dreadfully in September, was hit by yet more exceptional rain at the beginning of October, and the South East was hit badly too:

 

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And on the 7th, an almost unbelievable 7 inches of rain fell on Horncastle 5 hours. (This has since been confirmed by the Met Office as less than 3 hours):

 

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There seemed to be no let up to the misery, as storms continued to batter much of England for the rest of the month:

 

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Even Scotland did not escape:

 

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November proved to be little better, with more extensive flooding, particularly in Kent and Sussex, and even a damaging tornado in Cheshire. The South West also continued to suffer with more renewed flooding:

 

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The weather had one more trick up its sleeve, with December bringing some of the worst floods in history to South Wales:

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As far as the weather was concerned, 1960 was a truly dreadful year for many in England and Wales. It was certainly as bad as anything seen lately.

We’ve seen the basic facts, but let’s finish with some of the British Pathe films of the time:

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Exeter – October

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/floods-hit-the-west

 

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Kent & Sussex – November

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/kent-sussex-floods-hit-peak

 

 

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Hereford – December

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/deluge-over-britain

 

 

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South Wales – December

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-great-floods-of-the-taff-and-the-rhondda-valleys-sunday-morning-december-the-4-19

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October 24, 2022 at 05:28AM

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