Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


I had a sense of déjà vu while reading the account of Birmingham's heat Island (Tomlinson et al., 2013) for it contained a photograph of the new city centre weather station located in Paradise Circus. This was the site of a weather station operated by the Birmingham and Midland Institute (Figure 1) from 1856 until 1884. Unfortu-nately a fire in 1879 destroyed most of the meteorological records. This was a trigger to move the instruments to a more rural site in Edgbaston at Perrot's Folley in 1887, with the help of the then town council (Water-house, 1954), to escape the increasing thermal pollution of the city centre. The new site became a full synoptic station, Edg-baston Observatory (03531), in 1945. In 1965, because of financial constraints, the Institute agreed to let the University of Birmingham take over the operation of the station; at the same time their building in Paradise Street was due for demolition as part of the city centre's redevelopment, and the Institute moved to the Birmingham Library in Margaret Street.

Figure 1.

The Birmingham and Midland Institute c. 1880 (Anon, 1889).

In 1979, the University developed an instrument site on their extensive suburban campus in Edgbaston, in the gardens of Winterbourne House (Giles, 1982; Giles and Kings, 1994). Fortuitously, in the same issue of Weather Bell et al. (2013) also note weather observations in Birmingham: in their Figure 3, the southernmost of the Met Office stations is Winterbourne!