The weather can make or break a British holiday. The summers of 1985 and 1986 were very poor, and in 1987 hoteliers in St Ives were concerned about inaccurate weather forecasting and the negative effect it was having on tourism and trade in the town.

St Ives Archive hot
A photograph from the Daily Telegraph of 25th July, 1989, showing hotelier Steve Herbert and meteorologist Arthur Law at the new St Ives weather station

As the Western Morning News reported on 27th October, 1987: “When visitors left rain-soaked parts of Britain and came to a leading Cornish resort this summer, they were surprised by by the fine weather, and to learn of five weeks of sunshine. Visitors would ask ‘Why wasn’t this fine weather broadcast? We almost didn’t come’. They couldn’t believe it had been so dry.

“Worried by the effect inaccurate forecasts could have on their industry, the St Ives Hoteliers Association felt they needed a weather recording station in the town. Fears that the number of visitors to Cornwall were down by 10 per cent this year has put the focus on how critical these forecasts are for the region. ‘If we are telling them the weather isn’t good, is it any surprise they don’t come?’ asks vice-chairman of the St Ives Hoteliers Association, Mr Steve Herbert. ‘The weather is so localised here in Cornwall. More information to the Met Office could improve their recording and broadcasting in the future.’”

At that time, forecast data for Cornwall was recorded in Plymouth, 70 miles away. The Met Office was contacted, and showed interest in St Ives becoming part of the Health Resort Scheme of Weather Stations. A suitable location for the equipment had to be found, and two possible sites were chosen: the Island and Tregenna Castle Hotel. The Island met all the necessary criteria and was chosen as the designated site by the Met Office.

Penwith District Council granted permission for the development, and the Hoteliers Association worked extremely hard to achieve the opening of the weather station. They committed themselves to provide the £2,000 needed to finance the project. A rain gauge, sunshine recorder, and four thermometers were purchased and fitted on and around the coastguard buildings. The coastguard personnel agreed to undertake twice daily readings, and the results were to be phoned to the Met Office each day at 1800 hrs. Andrew Law, a retired meteorologist living in Barnoon Terrace, was pleased to oversee the recordings, and to ensure that a high standard would be maintained at all times to provide accurate data.

The project became a reality, and in July 1989 the St Ives Hotel and Guest House Association sent a press release to the editors of seven daily newspapers, accompanied by this letter:

“During the past year our members have contributed to the setting up of a Met Office Weather Station here in St Ives. The purpose of writing to you is, firstly, in the hope that this little story might be of interest. It demonstrates the results of positive action taken by a group, in the interests of the local community. Perhaps more importantly, we request that our weather reports could be published each morning in the daily weather summary in your paper”. A job well done.

St Ives Archive

St Ives Archive is based at Wesley Methodist Church, St Ives Road, Carbis Bay, St Ives TR26 2SF. For information about current opening hours, phone 01736 796408, email, or visit The Archive opened in 1996 and is staffed by volunteers. It is always looking for people to join its enthusiastic team. There are opportunities to learn new skills, carry out research, assist visitors, and take part in fundraising events. It offers a valuable service for anyone wishing to obtain historic information about the town. The Archive holds more than 35,000 photographs and numerous documents, covering fascinating subjects such as art, maritime heritage, tourism, and traditional customs, and it also has extensive resources relating to the history of St Ives families.