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HISTORICAL ECLIPSES IN WALES:
LOCAL NEWSPAPER ACCOUNTS OF THE 1927 TOTAL SOLAR ECLISPE:
HOLYHEAD CHRONICLE



Introduction

Reports from the Holyhead Chronicle newspaper are reproduced here which give accounts of the total solar eclipse of 29th June, 1927. The path of totality passed from Penrhyn Lly^n across to Colwyn Bay shortly after sunrise. The weather was generally very poor along the track in Wales, with complete cloud cover and rain. Conditions were only slightly better further along the track in northern England. Few direct observations were made of the eclipse from Wales due to the cloud. The Holyhead Chronicle provided reports from Ynys Môn (Anglesey) and the Bangor area.

These extracts were taken from local newspapers held in the Ynys Môn Archives Service in Llangefni. The notes were made by Bryn Jones, Mrs. G. Jones and Mr. J. T. Jones.




Holyhead Chronicle, 24th June, 1927, page 4.


THE ECLIPSE

A seer foretold last week that when the sun is occulted by the moon next Wednesday the end of the world will come. We have borne such prophecies too patiently in the past to be unduly alarmed at this most improbable event. A writer of a letter in a contemporary [journal] was much nearer the mark when he said "Surely the end of the world is near at hand," but he was writing in jocular vein in reference to the granting of special early morning licences for Colwyn Bay and Rhyl on the day of the eclipse. There is, of course, no valid reason why these resorts should not have been granted these facilities, but surely times are passing strange when go-ahead Southport's application for a similar privilege was turned down. Things are indeed topsy turvey. They would not have a casino at Colwyn Bay, but good red wine is to be allowed to flow on the occasion of the most wonderful event Nature has provided in the last 200 years.


UP IN THE MORNING EARLY

One thing is certain and that is that the eclipse will provide a wonderful sight not only in the heavens, but in the earth below. It is anticipated that the traffic on the roads will be as dense as on a Saturday afternoon, while hill sides and other vantage points will be thronged with sightseers. Had only a passing reference been made to the eclipse the minds of a few would have dwelt on the coming phenomenon, but the passage of the moon over the face of the sun had received such wide publicity that there will be a general scramble out of bed in the early hours of Wednesday next, and after surveying the wondrous spectacle there will no doubt be those who rejoice that Nature provides so long a period between these occultations, for even an eclipse cannot please everybody.


A TERRIFYING SIGHT

On the other hand, however, noted astronomers inform us that the flying shadow of the moon and the glorious corona which will follow will provide a wonderful sight. Experts speak in terms of the greatest awe of the phenomenon. Here is what Professor J. D. Forbes, of Edinburgh, [said] of a previous eclipse abroad, "It was the most terrifying sight I ever saw. I felt almost giddy for a moment as though the massive building under me bowed on the side of the coming eclipse," while Sir George Airy, a former Astronomer Royal, related that the shadow of the moon was "horribly menacing." It would, therefore, seem that the whole countryside is in for a first class entertainment providing, of course, that the sun condescends to shine at all.




Holyhead Chronicle, 24th June, 1927, page 7.


THE TOTAL ECLIPSE
GREAT PREPARATIONS IN NORTH WALES
WONDERFUL SIGHT PROMISED
THE RUSHING SHADOW OF THE MOON

Interest in the total eclipse of the sun next Wednesday's phenomenon will be something altogether different - more wonderful and awe-inspiring.

Residents in North Wales will be particularly fortunate, for the belt of totality cuts through from Rhyl to Criccieth, and in all the resorts and other centres arrangements have been made for the influx of crowds of visitors.

Make a note of the following particulars:-
       First "dint" of the sun: 5.20 a.m.
Sun clear again: 7.15 a.m.
Time of totality: 6.24 a.m.
Length 23 seconds

A Bangor authority states that the road in the neighbourhood of the rustic bridge on the mountain will provide the best viewpoint in this neighbourhood. From here a clear and unobstructed view will be obtainable over the valley towards Penmaen head. The sun will rise just by the Great Orme, which means that by the time of totality those who are looking towards Penmaen head should obtain a good view.

There are also points in Upper Bangor from which sightseers may observe the phenomenon, but here there is a risk of a haze hanging over the town which would not, of course, improve matters.




Holyhead Chronicle, 24th June, 1927.


ECLIPSE OBSERVATORY AT BANGOR

The authorities of the University College of North Wales have erected an observatory for the eclipse. It is fixed in the College playing field, off Friddoedd-road [sic.], Upper Bangor, and from here observations will be made and two photographs taken. The revolving hut, together with the telescope, which is six feet long, was presented some time ago to the College, but hitherto it has been housed in the science department in Deiniol-road.




Holyhead Chronicle, 1st July, 1927, page 7.


THE TOTAL ECLIPSE
SUN HIDDEN, BUT AWE-INSPIRING GLOOM
LIGHT OF THE WORLD BLOTTED OUT.

Millions of people gathered within the thirty-mile belt between Criccieth and Hartlepool on Wednesday morning in order to see the total eclipse of the sun. For the most part, however, rain and cloudy skies spoiled the spectacle, and, generally speaking, apart from the sudden darkness at the moment of totality there was little to be observed.

At Giggleswick, in the north of England, however, the eclipse provided a magnificent, never-to-be-forgotten spectacle. A press correspondent with the Astronomer Royal describes the scene as follows :-

"There was a vague feeling of terror. Animals whined, sheep stopped nibbling and bleated pitifully. We were enveloped in a greyish brown air; the chill gripped us. Then the great shadow sped across like a monster blotting out the world. Like magic the corona burst forth, gold and silvery rays shooting out as from some invisible crucible or the offshoots of a volcanic crater. The world appeared to be on fire. Then a wonderful orange glow as the sun reappeared."

At Southport, where there were 100,000 visitors, the clouds cleared a few minutes before totality, showing the corona. The flashing shadow, too, was a splendid sight - "as though everything cheerful was being snatched out of life forever."

A crowd of 150,000 assembled at Blackpool, but a poor view was obtained, whilst those who climbed Snowdon saw nothing at all.


CLOUDS AND RAIN IN BANGOR
EERIE FEELING AT THE TIME OF TOTALITY

Bangor was among the places which had the misfortune to be deprived by clouds from being able to see the eclipse. It was raining heavily long before the period of totality, but this did not deter large crowds wending their way to points from which they thought they could obtain a view of the spectacle. All night through a steady stream of cars ran through the city in the direction of Bethesda for Capel Curig and for Colwyn Bay.

The golf course appeared to be the favourite rendezvous in Bangor, though there were large crowds on the pier, along the foreshore at Hirael, at Ffriddoedd, the Old Camp field and the mountain. A few had perched themselves in the tower of the University College of North Wales.

All hopes of seeing the spectacle dissipated as the clouds thickened. The crowds whiled away the time by singing, but when the period of totality arrived there was an impressive silence. In some places where the sun had been shining in all its majesty the transformation from day to night was complete, but owing to the heavy clouds this was not so marked in Bangor, although the effects were very eerie. Sweeping pall deprived the countryside of its verdant colour. Viewed from the golf course the hills of Snowdonia, so sharply defined a few seconds before, became giant silhouettes. A weird colouring o'erspread land and sea. It seemed the light of neither moon nor sun - almost ghostly.

Yesterday morning, at the same hour that the eclipse occurred the previous day, the sun shone in all its radiance ! In the afternoon, however, it became so dark that electric light had to be turned on in the shops and offices, but the sun again made its appearance towards the evening.


BANGORIANS WHO SAW THE PHENOMENON

Strange as it may seem a party of Bangorians, about 100 strong, had a splendid view of the eclipse. They were trippers en route to London in a special train, and as they approached Rugeley the train was stopped and the party were informed that they could view the eclipse. Some ingenious persons "smoked" the windows of the carriages with matches and saw the phenomenon without stepping from the train, which remained stationary for a quarter of an hour.


WEST END AND PENCHWINTAN GAZERS

Though the sky was decidedly uninviting in the direction of sunrise the West End and Penchwintan folk were not in the least pessimistic (writes a correspondent), and made their way hopefully to Ffriddoedd and Bangor mountain. Even the relentless rain failed to send them back to their forsaken beds.

When the Ffriddoedd contingent met the Mountain lot they smiled mysteriously - as much to say, "You won't see anything to brag about. Ours is the privileged spot for the eclipse." On the other hand, the Mountaineers smiled still more mysteriously and stretched themselves to their full height as they gazed in the direction of their elevated point of vantage. I was one of the gallant Mountaineers, and they made the climb as if the eclipse was occurring to them and no one else.

"Won't it be grand from the very top ?" chuckled one of them.

"Scrumptious," observed another.

"Great!" exclaimed a man of science who wouldn't mind challenging the towering crags of Snowdon that morning.

When we reached what we thought was the best place on the Mountain we instantly turned our gaze in the direction of Great Orme and said to ourselves, "Now for something that will pay us handsomely for leaving those delicious beds at such an unearthly hour". After an hour of drizzle, cold winds, frowning clouds, wet feet, pinched faces, and other miseries we saw the fleeting darkness at totality, and were glad when it was light enough for us to rush home as fast as our legs could carry us to sip hot coffee and wished the eclipse anywhere but in North Wales.

Three things were impressed on my mind as a result of the whole affair. I realised for the first time that the sun rises between the Great and Little Orme and not behind Tryfan as I had always thought.

I thought ruefully of the last shilling I had spent on the smoked glass that was damp and cold in one of my pockets.

Finally, I consoled myself with the fact that no power on earth would persuade me to leave my bed - wherever it would be - to see the eclipse in 1999.


University College Preparations

Great preparations had been made for the eclipse during the last two months by the U.C. of N.W., under the direction of Dr. Edwin Owen, Professor of Physics. An observatory had been erected at Ffriddoedd with a 6" refractor telescope, a gift to the college. Attached to it was a spectrograph to take the flash spectrum which appears two to three seconds at the beginning and towards the end of totality. There were also two cameras three feet long to take a picture of the corona. Time signals were received on a special wireless apparatus, and signals were also used to check the chronometer, which was standardised previously with the broadcasted time signals.

Outside the hut were mounted two cameras to take photographs of the different phases of the eclipse.

"The conditions" said Dr Edwin Owen to a "North Wales Chronicle" reporter "however, prevented any pictures being taken or the telescope being used. Temperature readings were, however, taken in the open. Temperature variations were recorded of one and a half degree centigrade, which was rather less than was anticipated, due probably to the fact that there was such a thick layer of cloud at the time of totality. The darkness was not so marked as it would have been had there been no cloud. We were able to carry out physical measurements at the college. These were done by Mr H. T. Jones. They deal with the potential gradient of the atmosphere before, during and after totality, but so far the results have not been worked out. Although the eclipse was disappointing in this district we greatly enjoyed the preparatory work, and I wish to thank those who assisted us."

The party, in addition to Dr. Edwin Owen consisted of Dr. S. Russ, Professor of Physics at U.C.L., Mr. P.A. Mainstone, Mr. H.T. Jones, Mr. H. Curnow, Mr. D. Davies, Mr. T.E. Williams, and Mr. Glyn ap Silyn Roberts. Mr. W.E. Williams who assisted in the preparations, was unable to attend on Wednesday owing to the death of his mother.


LECTURE ON THE PHENOMENON

An audience exceeding four hundred assembled in the Powis Hall of the University College of North Wales on Tuesday evening to hear an interesting lecture by Professor W.E.H. Berwick Sc.D. on eclipses of the sun and moon, etc. etc. etc.


AT LLYSFAEN HILL
AN IMPRESSION BY A MAN OF SCIENCE

It is now known only too well, the sun itself was shrouded, but from 5.20 to 6.20 there was a persistent thin belt of cloud in that region of the sky through which a pale reddish or orange light was to be seen. As the hour of partial eclipse wore on, this belt grew slowly paler, while the day grew slowly darker, though hardly more so than I have seen during two partial eclipses. Just before 6.23 we moved to Llysfaen ridge, whence we could command a view of some twelve miles of country to the south-west. Then, so rapidly as to be nearly sudden, the orange light in the east vanished, and at the same moment an immense "darkness" appeared, which seemed to the present writer to be of a bluish tint, and to fill the air.

It "came at" us from the south-west. One held one's breath; one almost expected some fearful sound, but there was dead silence. It was, of course, the shadow of the moon. The writer has had some forty years of life in the open air, but this was totally unlike any previous experience, and can never be forgotten.



Other information about historical eclipses

Other information on this website about the 1927 eclipse:

Information on this website about other historic observations of eclipses from Wales:




   
This page was created and is maintained by Bryn Jones.   E-mail: bryn.jones.email@gmail.com .
WWW home page: http://www.jonesbryn.plus.com/ .
This page was first created in January 2000   (at a different address).
It was last modified on 27th August, 2008.
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