Penylan Meteorological Station

The Penylan Reservoir / Observatory site included a weather station, established by the Cardiff Corporation and enhanced in 1908 with the help of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society:[1]

It may be of interest to note that owing to the generous assistance of the Society during the year under consideration the Cardiff Corporation Meteorological Station at Penylan has been rendered more complete by the addition of several useful instruments. The Station is now well equipped and recognised by the Meteorological Office. The observations are taken at 9 a.m. and at 9 p.m. (local time) daily, and are published in the daily, weekly, and other returns of that office, and in the local newspapers. Charts containing a summary of observations are kept on view at the Station, and appear to be of interest to the general public. The instruments at the Station comprise at the present time a Kew pattern station barometer with millimetre and inch scale, maximum and minimum thermometers, wet and dry bulb thermometers, 1 foot and 4 feet thermometers, solar radiation and terrestrial radiation thermometers, sunshine recorder, and wind vane. The barometer, solar radiation thermometer and the sunshine recorder were presented by the Society, who have recently added an exceedingly valuable seismograph. which is about to be fixed in a suitable building provided by the Corporation. The Station is under the control of the Medical Officer of Health.

Data from the Penylan station was included from 1908 to 1948-49 in the Meteorological Observations section of Reports and transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society.[2]

Penylan Metoerological Station

Plan of the Penylan Metoerological Station c.1930
© Crown Copyright[4]

In 1936 the enclosure for the meteorological station was moved about 20 yards nearer the entrance to the grounds to accommodate an extension to the observatory.[3] The 1950s Ordnance Survey map for Cyncoed Gardens shows the positions of the rain guage and sun recorder.

Observing stations such as that at Penylan were inspected regularly by Meteorological Office Inspectors, who would report on the maintenance of the site and accuracy of the instruments. The Inspectors would also take photographs of the site from several directions, some of which are shown below.

Penylan Meteorological Station

Penylan Meteorological Station 1957
© Crown Copyright[4]

Penylan Meteorological Station

Penylan Meteorological Station 1957
© Crown Copyright[4]

The following two photographs show a building with the meteorological station sunshine recorder just above the level of the balcony. The function of the building itself is unknown.

Building with sunshine recorder 1957

Building with sunshine recorder 1957
© Crown Copyright[4]

Building with sunshine recorder 1957

Building with sunshine recorder 1957
© Crown Copyright[4]

Penylan was a Climatological Station. The readings would be taken by Council or Water Authority staff, or by volunteers, who recorded the data in writing onto pre-printed forms supplied by the Meteorological Office. These forms, known as Climatological Returns, were returned by post about once a week. An example of both front and back of the form is shown below. (The other type of observing station, a Synoptic Station, would have returned the readings by a quicker method (telegraph), as they would have been used to generate forecasts.)

Climatological Returns December 1957

Climatological Returns December 1957
© Crown Copyright[4]

Climatological Returns form back

Climatological Returns back
© Crown Copyright[4]

Penylan seems to have had no actual wind recording instruments. The Inspector's report for 1969 stated that "there is no anemometer or vane and wind observations are made by estimation, on a Beaufort scale by observation of trees etc for speed and 'feel' of wind for direction, from a satisfactorily exposed situation near the site."[4]

The Penylan meteorological station closed in 1977 and was replaced by the station in Bute Park.[4]

Sources of Information

  1. Meteorological Observations in the Society's district, 1908. Reports and transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society Vol. 42 (1909), page 14
  2. Reports and transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society
  3. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 12th May 1936
  4. Information and photographs provided by the National Meteorological Library and Archive – Met Office, UK.