Happy 150th Birthday

You have probably worked out that it is not a persons birthday, unless you know someone who is 150 today, in which case a very very happy birthday to them.

In a week where another iconic piece of history in the UK feel silent with Big Ben not chiming normally for four years, it is reassuring to know that this institution of the shipping forecast is going strong and for us non sailors is still available after 90 years on Radio 4. The regularity of the broadcasts the images that are conjured up in the mind by the names of the areas, and the weather within them, gives a sense of life continuing. I imagine that all traditions do this to some extent.

For the mariners though I wonder if these forecasts give and provide a sense of not being alone in the world despite being isolated on the seas?

In October 1859, the steam clipper Royal Charter was wrecked in a strong storm off Anglesey; 450 people lost their lives. Due to this loss, Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy introduced a warning service for shipping in February 1861, using telegraph communications. After this disaster, FitzRoy began to create predictions for a national storm warning system, determined that such a tragedy would be averted in future. He faced opposition from the scientific establishment, which doubted the accuracy of his predictions. But the public demand for forecasts was strong and in 1867 the Shipping Forecast became a fixed feature of British maritime navigation. In 1925, the forecast moved to BBC radio, where it has remained since. It is transmitted four times a day via a combination of FM and long-wave frequencies. It serves as punctuation for the BBC Radio 4 schedule, and for the lives of many listeners. The 00:48 broadcast is there for falling asleep, and the 05:20 for waking up. Read the full article here