Gawlish Weather Station

HM Coastguard Station Hartland (Eastdown) closes

On 14th November 1988 the Met Office was informed that Hartland Coastguard would close on 6 December 1988, and all staff would be removed by 11 December.

The Met Office sent a letter to the station asking for any coastguards staying in the area to consider continuing an observation programme, and a response was received from Mr R Needham which eventually led to the opening of the station at Gawlish.

A new site is found

At Met Office request, Chivenor Met Office visited the proposed site at Gawlish on 14 December 1988 for site assessment .

The site was found to be acceptable and was 400ft (122m) above MSL with a grid reference of SS 254270 (51° 0'N 04° 29'W .

The Station Name was Gawlish, with collecting Office being Plymouth WC . Thereafter, the equipment from Hartland was transferred to Gawlish with the exception of the thermometer screen (in poor condition) and the barometers which were due for calibration. Replacements were ordered from Met Office stores.

Gawlish Weather Station starts reporting

Practice observations commenced 14 February 1989 and full reporting was from 23 February 1989 , being 3-hourly reports from 0900-2100.

The anemometer and 10 metre mast were installed on 9 May 1989.

Sep 1989, July 1990 Inspections - assessed very good


Computerisation comes to Gawlish

13 Feb 1992 - CODET was installed

The Met Office developed the CODET System (Coded Observation Data Entry Transmission) to aid the manual production of observations.

The CODET system was PC based and could generate the full range of messages for a synoptic station. It was specially designed to operate at auxiliary stations

. The observer could add to or modify any part of the observation through the PC. Quality control checks were incorporated into the interface.

Regular Met Office Inspections

July 1991 Inspection :meteorological routine assessed as excellent, with particular emphasis on the first class quality of observations

Sept 1992 Inspection assessed very good

June 1993, June 1994 Inspections assessed excellent

1st April 1995 RAF St Mawgan Met Office assumed responsibility as Supervising Forecast Station for Gawlish due to the closure of Plymouth WC.

April 1995 Inspection assessed as excellent.

Gawlish Auxiliary Met Office Weather Station closes but recording continues at Gawlish


By the time you read this report our weather station will have closed down!

The Met Office is having a reorganisation and they have decided that with modern technology and an increase in the availability of automatic weather stations, as of December 31st 2003 our services are no longer required.

It has been an interesting fifteen years working for them and we have always found the Met Office to be an excellent "employer" in all respects, and very supportive to us "amateurs" in the field.

We will in fact be continuing to record rainfall figures, as we also supply the Environment Agency with this information, so we shall at least be able to continue passing this on to the "Hartland Times" for your interest

. Dick and Airlie Needham

(from The Hartland Times,issue Issue 137 Jan 2004)

It was when the HM Coastguard Centre closed that Dick and Airlie agreed to run an official Met Station at their home for the Meteorological Office, then at Bracknell.

Once the equipment was installed and up and running, recording was carried out, with measurements taken every three hours between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and this continued until the end of 2003 when, with increased automation, the Met Office closed the Gawlish Met Station, removing most of the equipment.

But since then, the rainfall has continued to be recorded daily for the Environment Agency and the information so readily provided for each issue of the Hartland Times

Lieutenant-Commander Richard N. Needham of Gawlish Cottage, Hartland, passed away in his sleep at his home on 19th September 2009 at the age of eighty, following a spell of three weeks in hospital.

(from The Hartland Times,issue 172 Nov 2009 )
FINAL ISSUE of The Hartland Times

It was twenty-five years ago, in 1989, after the closure of the HM Coastguard Station, that Dick Needham, himself a coastguard, and his wife, Airlie, took over the duties of recording for the Met Office and from that time prepared reports for the Hartland Times.

The Met Office officially stopped using the Gawlish Cottage station at the end of 2003 but Dick and Airlie continued recording the rainfall, etc., for the Environment Agency and since Dick passed away in September 2009 Airlie has continued to record the daily rainfall and note the weather conditions, her latest report in this issue.
(This was the last issue of The Hartland Times)

(from The Hartland Times,issue 201 Sept 2014 )

The Hartland Post

After the Hartland Times ceased publication, Airlie Needham continued recording rainfall and weather conditions from Gawlish Cottages. When The Hartland Post started in 2015, Airlie provided reports again until November 2016 when she retired from weather reporting. Airlie died on 29th April 2017.