Chris has kept a unique record of Exmouth's rain
PUBLISHED: 16:30 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:34 10 June 2010
MOST of us despair at the wet weather but, until recently, when the heavens opened, you could guarantee Brixington man Chris Beer would be rubbing his hands with glee. For most of his life, Chris, 65, of The Marles, has been reading a rain gauge a hobby
MOST of us despair at the wet weather but, until recently, when the heavens opened, you could guarantee Brixington man Chris Beer would be rubbing his hands with glee.For most of his life, Chris, 65, of The Marles, has been reading a rain gauge - a hobby which eventually led to a vocation studying the climate and measuring rainfall.Since 1956 Chris has been reading the same Negletti and Zambra rain gauge he bought as a boy.But, at the end of 2008, Chris decided to end his life-long dedication measuring rainfall, to become more involved with Brixington Community Church.He said: "I shall probably miss it but I have done it for a long time. I started it in 1956 and I have been doing it for more than 50 years. I think that's long enough. "Even when I was in the Met Office and the Environment Agency, I was reading the gauge."It's difficult to get a place in the back garden that has the same standards as the Met Office."My son is not interested in carrying it on, so I will just keep the records I have made."Chris's love of rainfall was driven by his interest in geography and when he left school he quickly started working for the Met Office when they were based at Exeter Airport.After spending a few months being trained in London, Chris was posted to Salisbury Plain where he had the task of testing the River Avon. "I had always thought about it from several years before I left school. My favourite subject was meteorology linked to geography."The first morning I started work, I woke up and there was snow everywhere. That was November 5 1962. That was the worst winter."As temperatures in the UK plummeted and the country faced six weeks of cold weather and snow - in some places it was the coldest winter since 1740 - 19-year-old Chris worked from a base near a grass airfield as a scientific assistant where he would take hourly observations and get readings from a tele-printer."We had to issue a lot of forecasts for the planes that were travelling abroad," he said.Shortly before he was posted to Wiltshire, Chris set up his rain gauge at his parents' Bradninch home - where it remained until 1977. While Chris was away, working a seven-day on and three-day off shift, his parents carried on using the equipment to monitor the rain levels.If Chris wanted to check the conditions back in Devon, he had to make a 100-mile round trip in his Austin A40.In March 1965, Chris took a post with the Devon River Board - a job similar to the work he had been doing with the Met Office.Chris measured the water levels across the county and monitored rain levels. "We had climate stations and rain gauges all over Devon. We had to read them every month. Most of them were privately read. We ended up with 200 all together. "The rest of the time we were measuring rivers and springs, bore holes and wells and gathering and recording information on the river and water supplies."Chris married in 1966 and in 1971, when he moved to Exmouth with his wife, he made sure his faithful friend the original Negletti and Zambra rain gauge was set up in the garden.His passion for monitoring rain levels means he has had few holidays."I have been reading it ever since, which is 37 years."It's just something I thought I would do - set up a climate station in the back garden. "When the hedge and trees at the top of the garden got bigger, I had to abandon the climate station because there wasn't any wind because of the hedge."Changing jobs again, Chris went to work for the Environment Agency where, every time it rained, he was on tenterhooks waiting for the phone to ring."Every time it rained I would wait for the phone to ring to call me out to visit the floods. "We often went in the middle of the night. We had the phone put in our room so I could just reach out and answer it half asleep."Chris is immensely proud of his extensive records charting Exmouth's rainfall.In his collection are records from the Capel Lane area of Exmouth, which end in 1971.He also has original records charting the rainfall in Bradninch."We have never had one completely dry month. Sometimes it gets to the end of the month and there's been no rain - then it rains. "If the end of the month had come a day earlier, it would have been recorded as a completely dry month."Still a keen weather watcher, even after his retirement, Chris, who has been married for 42 years, has his own theories on climate change.An expert in meteorology, climatology and geology, Chris believes El Nino - the disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the Tropical Pacific, which effects weather, climate change and rainfall around the world - is responsible."What we do has very little effect - probably no more than two per cent," said the grandfather-of-one. Obviously cutting down the Amazon rainforest does make a lot of difference, because the trees always absorbed the carbon dioxide. "What makes me laugh is when you hear the Prime Minister saying he's going to stop global warming. "There's no way you can stop it. It's like King Canute standing on the shore trying to stop the tide coming in.