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History 2

History 1

1983 to date

1975 storm



Because of the weather station’s existence, meteorology became one of the Hampstead Society’s interests. One man who was very keen was Leo Bonacina who tramped for years to the same spot on Hampstead Heath and made notes on the visibility across London according to a scale of values he had himself devised. His findings for 1950-59 were published in the Society’s annual reports and summarised in Weather magazine. He also contributed many articles and much correspondence to most of the several meteorological journals, including an article on “London’s picturesque cloud scenery” in Weather (1951), and detailed surveys of the snow seasons in the United Kingdom collected every ten years in British Rainfall.

Eric Hawke was already a sick man when he resigned in 1965, and he died in November 1967, aged 75. Robert Tyssen-Gee then became honorary meteorologist. He lectured to the Society on weather topics (which Hawke never did at general meetings) and so brought the subject closer to members. Tyssen-Gee was educated at Uppingham School and trained as an accountant, but during the Second World War he joined the RAF and became a meteorological observer in Iceland, providing crucial information for the construction of Atlantic weather charts during those data-scarce years. After the war his face became familiar at meetings of the RMS and he contributed regularly to various meteorological periodicals. Just before his death the Camden History Society published his booklet Hampstead Weather 1860-1981.

The first to admit that he found no delight in the mathematical aspects of meteorology, Robert Tyssen-Gee was essential an observational scientist. His extensive range of interests encompassed many other aspects of the natural world. He belonged to the Royal Geographical Society and and the British Astronomical Association, he was a member of the National Trust, the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, and the Alpine Club, and he founded the London section of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club. As a n active member of all these organisations and more, he clearly became a well-travelled man, so that as a keen and prolific photographer he built up a unique collection of over 13,000 negatives and slides.

© Philip Eden

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