WITH the ups and downs of the British weather keeping us guessing this summer, Telegraph & Argus reader Ray Banyard sent in a series of interesting photographs and press cuttings.

They show Ray making recordings of observations made at Bradford’s weather station in Lister Park.

One shows Ray pouring water from a bottle into a glass measuring tube. The picture is captioned: ‘Checking rainfall at Bradford’s Lister Park, but lately there has been little rainfall to check.’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ray measuring rainfall, 1970Ray measuring rainfall, 1970

Aren’t they lucky ? It’s a shame we can’t say the same for Yorkshire over the past couple of months.

Another image shows Ray looking at a long tube with a thermometer inside it. Underneath are the words:

‘The soil is warming up. And it’s a change to learn about the temperature being taken four feet below ground in Bradford’s Lister Park with this thermometer, instead of on the Air Ministry roof.’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Reading from a thermometerReading from a thermometer

As apprentice gardener, Ray was among the park staff whose jobs involved taking readings from the automatic rainfall recorder, one of several instruments in use at the facility.

Ray read the thermometer, which was kept inside a Stevenson screen - a small shelter with slatted sides that protects meteorological instruments against adverse weather conditions.

Stevenson screens face north, which combined with their colour and slats, give the best measure of the temperature, without getting too hot in direct sunlight or being too cool in the shade. They are usually made from wood but can be made from other materials.

“There were other thermometers in the ground at various depths,” he says. “We would read them and then the gas board would ring up for a the readings - the information was especially important in winter when gas pipes across the city were in danger of fracturing and causing a leak.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ray with some of the weather recording equipmentRay with some of the weather recording equipment

Phone calls were also received from staff at Bradford Central Library and the Telegraph & Argus. “The library would take down the readings to put up on display for the public, and the T&A would publish them in the paper.”

“As well as the temperature recordings we took readings from the rain gauge and sunshine recorder.

“We went every day to take the readings - in winter we took readings at 9am and in summer at 10am. Several of us did it, taking turns.”

The site, close to the bandstand, had another rain gauge powered by electricity, says Ray. “It had a tank to collect rainwater and a marker pen and paper spool. As the water level rose and the pen would mark it on the graph”

These readings were monitored by Bradford Council’s highways department. “I remember when there was a storm in 1968, one of the highways engineers came and removed a section of paper showing the amount of rain we had had - it was a mass of blue ink.”

He adds: “We also put a thermometer, which was in a cage, on the grass surface to record the minimum temperature at ground level during the night. In the morning we put it back inside the Stevenson screen and repeated it again at about 4.30pm for the maximum reading.”

Ray read the recordings between 1965 and 1970, when the pictures were taken. The black and white photographs were taken by Telegraph & Argus photographer Dennis Flatt who spent 47 years at the paper. Dennis died in 2017 aged 88.

On July 16, 1970 one of the photographs of Ray taking a reading from the weather station was used to accompany the T&A’s then regular gardening column by Bill Sowerbutts. The column details the many July Jobs that can be carried out in the garden.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Taking readingsTaking readings

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Marking the graph on a drumMarking the graph on a drum

“I enjoyed taking down the details, it was interesting,” says Ray. “You had to go out whatever the weather - rain, wind, hail, snow, we did it.

In snow we used to go on to the bowling green with a five-inch plant pot to measure the depth of the snow lying on the ground. We would press the wide end of the pot down and bring it back up, level it off and bring it back. We would then melt it and send off the results.

“I once wrote to the Met Office asking why they needed this and they said it was so they could calculate the amount of snow lying on rooftops.”

He adds: “I have always been really interested in weather. I now have a laptop and when I turn it on the first thing I do is bring up the weather.”

The weather station in Lister Park still exists, bordered by a fence. In 2008 BBC TV weatherman Paul Hudson visited the weather observatory to award the current recorders a plaque from the Met Office for 100 years of observations from the site.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: BBC TV weatherman Paul Hudson presents a plaque to Chris Russell, one of the weather observers, to mark 100 years of recordings at the site, in 2008BBC TV weatherman Paul Hudson presents a plaque to Chris Russell, one of the weather observers, to mark 100 years of recordings at the site, in 2008 Still in use, although it has almost certainly been updated, the Stevenson screen can be seen on the above picture from 2008.