TIDES – High Tides Apprehension

The Redcar & Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 24/09/1869.


          The approaching high tides continue to excite speculation, and in some quarters apprehension seems to exist as to the probable result should the weather prove stormy during the first week in October. Lieut. S. M. Saxby, R.N., has intimated through the press that October 5th and 7th, and November 1st to 3rd are expected by him to be periods of great danger to shipping, sea walls, &c. He suggests that those who do not believe in his luni-solar theory would do harm by taking a few precautions against wind, sea, and inland floods at the periods referred to above.

          The causes of the expected high tides of October 5th to 8th may be briefly stated. On the 5th, the moon will be in perigee (the part of her orbit nearest the earth) at 7 o’clock in the morning, and at noon on the same day the moon will be on the earth’s equator, and at 2 p.m. the same day the sun and moon will occupy a position which may be called an exact conjunction – to quote Lieut. Saxby’s words, “lines drawn from the centre would cut the sun and moon in the same are of right ascension, the moon’s attraction and the sun’s attraction will therefore be actually in the same arc of right ascension, the moon’s attraction and the sun’s attraction will therefore be actually in the same direction.” Lieut. Saxby  further states that such circumstances never occurs without marked atmospheric disturbance, and it is hence inferred that extraordinary high tides may be expected; and, should the wind be from the North, it may easily happen that a tide may be seen on our own shore such as the present generation has never seen.

          The highest tides the old inhabitants of Redcar have on Record during their memory are those of February 17th and 18th, 1836. On the 16th, the fishing boats went out to seas as usual, and had a remarkably good haul of fish. The new moon was on the 17th, and although the wind set in from N.N. East no great danger was apprehended, as the tides were only half sprung. It may be explained that the tides usually commence to spring three days before the moon’s change and continue for three day’s after, when they reach their height. On the occasion referred to, the tide lifted so suddenly during the afternoon that a boat laid keel uppermost was carried up on to rising ground, which was a general signal for the removal of the fishing cobles to a place of safety. At high water the storm raged violently, and the waves swept the North side of Redcar with such fury as to cause much alarm, and actually washed down the stone wall at the foot of the Swan Hotel yard, at the same time dashing into the adjoining building, then used as a Ranter’s Chapel, and surrounding Prospect Cottage. The inhabitants of the houses on the sea-board (then very view) were in great trepidation, and prepared to remove their furniture; but the storm abated as suddenly as it rose, and on Saturday, the 20th, the fishing boats went out as usual. It is further related of this celebrated tide that the sea washed round the Lobster Inn at Coatham, and left traces behind in the shape of seaweed. No real damage seems to have been sustained, save the fall of the wall at the Swan Hotel; and it may be observed till this day that at the rebuilding of this wall it was only carried up half the height. The gateway was closed up, and a new one broken out in Moore Street, which is now used.

          It is interesting to note that since 1836 no such high tide has occurred here: and it is singular enough that so soon after the completion of the Sea Wall we may look forward to such a tide as that predicted, when its stability may possibly be tested in a manner which will demonstrate whether the wall will stand under such a pressure water in event of the wind being from the north at the time of the moon’s perigee on the 5th of next month.

          We observe that Professor Airey, the Astronomer Royal, in a letter on the Times states that the predicted high tide of October will be only one inch higher than that of February last; and he does not consider there is the smallest ground for alarm in the height of the tide depending upon the position of the sun and moon. It is certain however, that alarm has spread in several parts of the United Kingdom in consequence of Lieut. Saxby’s prediction, and there can be no harm, as the Lieutenant says, in being prepared for “forewarned is forearmed.”

          At the moment of going to press we received a letter from Lieut. Saxby, in reply to a letter of enquiry, which we have great pleasure in printing in extensor.

7, Albion Terrace,
Sept. 22nd, 1869.


           Although I am most willing to help my fellow-men, I am certainly paying a heavy penalty in the correspondence, which seemed to have alarmed the public. The simple facts are these – no man living can say that we shall have even a capful of wind, or at least rise in tide between the 5th and 7th of October and the 1st and 3rd November, but as I believe in the infallibility, and as I have invariably found that when certain combinations occur atmospheric disturbances result, to a very great extent, all over the world- and as these effects have always followed such causes, my belief is that we are threatened with extreme atmospheric disturbances at the period mentioned. What such disturbances may cause in your locality – whether heavy gales, extraordinary calms and stillness, &c., no man can presume to say; nor can we tell what parts of the earth may be most effected; least of all can any man say what may be the amount of the rise of tide in those periods.

           My warning therefore amounts to this; a heavy gale, which at any other time would give a very high tide on any coast, would at this period I name cause an exceedingly high tide; therefore I warn people to be prepared. A strong Easterly or Northerly gale would certainly try your new esplanade, if near the usual high water mark.

           You ask me how long it is since the peculiar conjunction I name occurred before. In reply, I beg to say December, 1862, for months beforehand I warned the whole civilized world, and what were the actual results? The moon was then in extreme southern declination, and I suppose, consequently the effects were felt most deeply in the Southern Hemisphere – at the Cape, in Australia, Tasmania, &c, where great and well known damage was done; while in England I saw (on the very day, named beforehand by me,) the waves rolling along Sheerness, in a fresh gale which at other times would have been harmless. The rise of the tide on the Lincolnshire coast was not so great, but enough to cause me to be thanked by letter for my timely warning, and the precautions taken to mind the sea-walls in consequence. If you have any friends in Australia, they will tell you of the terrible floods in December, 1862; but in October next the effects will be felt equally in both hemispheres, and – whatever persons may say – I advise precautions, both in October and November, in those who live close upon the ordinary sea level.

You are at liberty to make any use you please of these hurried remarks – I am sir,

Your obedient servant,


Accreditation The Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 10/09/1869


Lieut. S. M. Saxby, of the Royal Navy, writes to a contemporary to state that “at 7 a,m, on October 8th, the moon will be at the part of the orbit which is nearest to the Earth. Her attraction will, therefore, be at its maximum force at noon on the same day. The move will be on the Earth’s equator, a circumstance which never occurs without marked atmospheric disturbance, and at two p.m. on the same day lines drawn from the Earth’s court, the son and moon in the same arc of right ascension (the moon’s attraction and the sun’s attraction will therefore be actually in the same direction). In other words, the new moon will be on the Earth’s equator when in perigee, and nothing more threatening can, I say, occur without miracle “(the Earth, it is true, will not be in perihelion by some 16 or 17 seconds chronometer).” The consequences of this will be one of the highest tides ever known.






dean August 7, 2011 Weather & Tides