- One of the most respected amateur weather forecasters
in Britain died yesterday after years of using moles, flies and seaweed
to beat the Meteorological Office at its own game.
- Bill Foggitt, who was 91 and the senior member of a Yorkshire
pub discussion group nicknamed the Magic Circle, combined natural lore
with an exceptional file of family records dating back to 1771 to make
- A cloudburst which swept away part of the town of Yarm
that year prompted his great-great-great-grandfather to start a diary which
generations continued - partly, according to Mr Foggitt, "in the hope
that we would eventually be able to predict catastrophes".
- That duly happened with Mr Foggitt himself, to such an
extent that for much of the 1980s his report, Foggitt's Forecast, was appended
to Yorkshire Television weather bulletins and treated with great respect.
- The forecaster, who died in Friarage hospital in North-allerton
after a short illness, had hoped to be a Methodist minister but failed
to get through the church's course.
- He turned his imagination and easy, fluent manner to
teaching, and spent his working life in South Yorkshire schools.
- He retired because of ill health and converted his home
in Thirsk, north Yorkshire, into a weather station.
- Drawing on the family archive and his own astute observation,
Mr Foggitt took forecasting far beyond the boundaries of cold fronts and
- The closing of pines cones almost always preceded wet
weather, he deduced, and flies were likely to behave sluggishly before
- He once appeared on television and had a column in several
newspapers, gathering a network of fellow-enthusiasts who added to his
stock of weather lore.
- Mr Foggitt, a widower without children, was extremely
popular in Thirsk, where he was one of the main visitor attractions before
the arrival of literary vet James Herriott.
- Mike Cresswell, his biographer, said: "He was an
all-round good guy. He taught us that for all science's advances, the everyday
behaviour of nature remains one of the best guides to predicting the weather.
But he was never interested in money.
- "As long as he had enough in his pocket to get his
pint at the Three Tuns with the Magic Circle, he was happy."
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