After the torrential rain in the last few weeks it is interesting to read what the weather was like, at the same time, 50 years ago.
From the Clacton Gazette
Farmers, today, are frustrated with the weather with much of the harvest not yet in. Harvesting was very different then with much of the corn being cut with a binder as there were only a few combines about. Those who had them had no way of drying the corn.
50 YEARS AGO
Friday August 13th, 1954
For farmers, seafront traders and boatmen there are serious times ahead unless the present freakish weather gives way to the sunshine we have learned to expect of the peak holiday period in north east Essex.
Farmers are frustrated and delayed in their harvesting and traders and boatmen want at least eight weeks good weather to give them that comfortable feeling of being well.
However, it’s an ill wind... to the shopping centres of the Essex resorts the showers, cold winds and long periods of unseasonable weather have brought record business. In other words the weather has been responsible for a switch that is especially noticeable at Clacton where the crowds give every appearance of a post-war record.
It is a poor consolation for the holidaymakers - great numbers of them are now on their “closedown works” break - to delve into the recent past, but this August, so far, is much drier than the opening of the month in 1951, when two inches of rain fell at Clacton and the bank holiday was thoroughly washed out in the afternoon and evening.
(Bank holiday, 50 years ago, was on the first Monday in August.
ANOTHER terrible harvest was in 1958. After a wet summer there was a deluge on Friday, September 5th with much of the harvesting still to be done. Potatoes were washed out of the ground. A Class Bogmaster used in paddy fields was imported from Germany.
Quoting from ‘Essex Farming 1900 - 2000’ by Peter Wormell - “So to Bovills Hall, Little Clacton on December 22nd, happily the long night following the shortest day was graced by moonlight which permitted the machine to finish the job in one shift”. At Cann Hall, Great Clacton, this monster was traversing the fields on Christmas Eve. Economically the crop was a write-off. It took nearly three hours to cut an acre!
That night, September 5th, 1958 is one I will never forget. There was tremendous lightning and heavy rain before I got on the train at Liverpool Street station for Southend; it was standing room only. We went slowly past several stations and at Ilford we stopped and stayed all night as the line was flooded much of the way to Southend.
There had been 3.27 inches of rain recorded at Wickford in 90 minutes! I finally arrived at Rochford at 6am, to be met by my father, who said the water was nearly up to the platform at the height of the storm!
DID YOU KNOW?
A square mile of woodland can support around 5,000 mice and voles.
Roe deer mate in July/August, but the egg doesn’t implant for five months. This is so the subsequent five month gestation period will result in a spring birth.
Badgers can grow up to three feet in length and weigh two stone - they also eat around 200 earthworms every day!
EARLY August brought very hot weather and swarms of hoverflies. We had plenty in St Osyth but Frinton and Walton had even more and people had to leave the beaches.
They stick to everything, even the ice creams being eaten! They are especially attracted to white and yellow flowers and clothes.
Hoverflies look a little like wasps, but they are harmless and swarms have been arriving from across the Channel. They have their uses as pollinators and in their larval state eat greenfly.
There is no way of getting rid of them except with a heavy downpour of rain.