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50 years ago today: Fog brings transport chaos

Posted on by phlorum

 This day, 50 years ago, dense fog brought road, rail and air transport to a complete halt.

 London was the worst affected. The Meteorological Office predicted that the latest smog would continue for 24 hours in the London area. This caused a ring around London of thick fog/smog causing huge chaos everywhere.

As visibility was down to 20 yards at London airport, many flights were diverted to Gatwick. Many trains were also cancelled.

But some businesses benifitted from this unpleasant weather: travel agents did a roaring trade and, also, Chemists, with a boom in the sale of smog masks!

The Clean Air Act was introduced in 1959. This prohibited the burning of domestic fuels in urban areas (smokeless zones) but fog continued to be smoky as the public took time to respond. The act was revised in 1968 when industries burning coal or gas were ordered to use taller chimneys but it wasn’t until 1974 that the first Control of Air Pollution introduced regulation on the composition of motor fuels.

In the 1980s and 1990s a new form of smog arrived caused by the chemical reaction of car pollutants and sunshine.

The 1985 Environment Act introduced new regulations for air pollutants.