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Raining Cats, Dogs - and Umbrellas!

The statistics speak for themselves. Across the UK, June was the wettest since records began in 1910, the coolest for more than 20 years, and the second dullest for over 100 years (only June 1987 saw lower levels of sunshine).

So that famous new sliding roof over Wimbledon’s Centre Court was definitely needed, while the defining memory of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee river pageant is of drenched onlookers huddling under rain ponchos.

In one week in June alone, over two inches of rain fell across the South West, Wales and the North East, and, before it was even over, England and Wales had over double the long-term average rainfall for the month.

All of which has made that good old British summer staple, the umbrella, more necessary than ever.

They’ve been factory produced since Victorian times, but umbrellas – also known as brollies, gamps, parasols, parapluies and bumbershoots, have been around so long that no-one really knows when they first started to be used.

Today, the things are almost considered extensions of our limbs. Even as far back as 1954, 300,000 of them were made in the UK every month.

It’s easy to see why so many are needed. Few things are as easily misplaced as the good old British brolly - apparently some 80,000 are found on London’s Underground alone every year.

We’ve all left behind an umbrella on public transport at one time or another. Short of tying the thing to your shoelaces it’s hard to know what to do to avoid this problem. You sit down, put it on the floor so it’s not dripping all over you, then, before you know it, you’ve walked off straight into the latest downpour without your brolly.

Luckily, if you leave one behind on South West Trains, you have a better than average chance of getting it back. You can phone or visit the company’s lost property office or use the online form to reclaim your umbrella, stating length, colour, and its type of cover and handle.

Abandoned brollies on trains are so commonplace that staff at the lost property office can accurately tell you when it rained in previous months based on numbers of recovered umbrellas. This summer, there’s been a deluge!


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