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Gravesend-Broadness weather station closes

By Sean McPolin

It's been revealled a weather station renowned for recording some of the UK's hottest temperatures has closed.

The Met Office has decided to shut the Gravesend-Broadness weather station on the Swanscombe peninsula after "significant changes to the site."

There are plans for a £3.2 billion theme park to be developed on the same land as the station in 2023.

Gravesend weather station has recorded some of the UK's hottest temperatures.
Gravesend weather station has recorded some of the UK's hottest temperatures.

The national weather service would have to undertake considerable structural work to rejuvenate the site, after the level of the ground was risen by the landowner, and has decided to invest in another site.

Operations at the station, which was unmanned, ceased at the end of August. Data had been recorded from the site since September 15 1995.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: "Following significant changes to the site hosting the Gravesend weather recording station, we have taken the decision to close the site permanently, especially as there are longer-term development plans for the peninsular which would be likely to affect the consistency of the site’s weather data in future.

“With its location in the south-east of England, the site has held important national temperature records, including recording the highest UK temperature for October: 29.9 C on 1 October, 2011.

"It wasn't the Met Office's preferred options to close the Gravesend weather station..." - Met Office spokesman, Grahame Madge

"The site has also featured regularly as the warmest location in the UK on many individual days. Gravesend has been an key station within a robust Met Office network of weather observation sites.

“It wasn’t the Met Office’s preferred option to close the Gravesend weather station, but alterations to the landscaping of the site meant that it was untenable to continue its operation.

“We will be striving to identify an alternative location, although this could take some time.”

The site was one of several in Kent. The next nearest is now East Malling. There is also a site at Shoeburyness in Essex. There are also around 10 sites in London.

Gravesend has been home to other weather recording stations in the past, including Gravesend number two between 1978 and 1995 and Gravesend Southworks from 1957 to 1997.

Mr Madge said that a replacement site will probably be scouted out along the Thames Gateway, somewhere between Whitstable and Dartford, but also needs to provide representation of weather trends across the south east and Kent.

He added: "In terms of local site, it's important to thin about the condition on the ground but also where it fits into the whole network."

The Met Office have to consider a number of factors when picking a site for weather station, including avoiding heat sources in the area, shade and tree cover and stipulate that it must be on grass.

If a station closes, specialist technology helps fill in the gaps using the network to collate weather data where there aren't stations, based on what is known about the geography of an area.

Gravesham councillor Mick Wenban (Con) was shocked to learn the news.

He said: "It's a real shame because it always put Gravesend on the map by recording the highest temperatures in the country. It's been there as long as I can remember.

"I can't understand what earthly reason they would have for shutting such a valuable resource. If they say it's to make way for a theme park that makes no sense as there's not going to be one."

The people behind London Resort, previously Paramount Park, said in April that the attraction will still be built, despite a series of delays that have seen the opening date pushed back four times.

If realised the site could create 27,000 jobs and welcome 15 million visitors a year, but Cllr Wenban isn't the only one to be cynical, with spokesman for the Peninsula Management Group Dan Bramwell declaring it "dead in the water".

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