As a ceramic designer and potter my work has been inspired by the sea, the coast and our fabulous British nautical culture. I have returned repeatedly to creating maps of the shipping areas reflecting a profound respect for our coast, the Shipping Forecast itself, and a love of maps of every description.
This hand-crafted range of ceramic plaques, The Finisterre Maps, describe the British shipping areas so that you can follow the route of the Shipping Forecast as it charts its way around the coast. The collection represents the launch of Atlantic Ceramics and new designs are in progress which will be added to the website in due course.
The Shipping Forecast was invented by Admiral FitzRoy, who, early in his career had captained HMS Beagle and in later voyages was accompanied by Charles Darwin. At the end of his long and varied career, FitzRoy was appointed, in 1854, as ‘Meteorological Statist to the Board of Trade’, head of a new department, dealing with the collection of weather data at sea. This was the origin of the modern Meteorological Office.
Fitzroy arranged for sea captains to provide him with information, and he then analysed the data collected. He was responsible for the design and distribution of a type of barometer which was fixed at every port, to be consulted by crews before setting out to sea: stone housings for the barometers are still visible in many fishing harbours around Britain.
A terrible storm in 1859 caused the loss of the Royal Charter which, in turn inspired FitzRoy to develop charts to allow predictions to be made, which he called "forecasting the weather". Fifteen land stations were established, using the newly developed telegraph system, to transmit daily weather reports to him. The first daily weather forecasts were published in The Times in 1860.
Admiral Fitzroy was brilliant and innovative. He established a basic system which is still in operation to this day.
On 4 February 2002, when the Shipping Forecast sea area Finisterre was renamed to avoid confusion with the French and Spanish forecast area of the same name, the new name chosen by the UK's Met Office was "FitzRoy", in honour of their founder.