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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The blizzards of 1963

Deep snow in Burrow, Lancs, 1963
It's snowing.
As usual, the UK is grinding to a halt: there have been angry scenes at Heathrow airport.
But it all pales into insignificance compared to the blizzards of 1963.
If you get chance to see it, BBC2 showed an amazing programme from then entitled "Winterwatch: 1963."
That winter, the snow came in December and didn't disappear until March.
With temperatures so cold the sea froze in places, 1963 is one of the coldest winters on record.
It began abruptly just before Christmas in 1962. The weeks before had been changeable and stormy, but then on 22 December a high pressure system moved to the north-east of the British Isles, dragging bitterly cold winds across the country. This situation was to last much of the winter.
Many people didn't have central heating. People were literally trapped in their houses, with snow piled in drifts up to the roofs.
My parents were living in St Budeaux, Plymouth, and my dad was unable to get home from Bickleigh Barracks for four days. My mum couldn't get outside the door. Eventually a truck brought my dad home and he dug us out (I was two years old). My dad still went to work the following evening. He put on his great coat and boots and walked to Bickleigh, several miles away.
The TV programme showed scenes you would never imagine seeing in Britain. The sea, frozen. People "commuting" to work across the Thames on skates. Trains so buried under snow, it took teams of dozens of men days to liberate them.
 The snow was so deep farmers couldn't get to their livestock, and many animals starved to death.Several people died as a direct result of the weather.
This snow set the scene for the next two months, as much of England remained covered every day until early March 1963
The first thaw was gentle and everyone heaved a sigh of relief. But just a few days later, the freeze was back - and the second thaw was fast and brutal causing floods.
Me out in the snow today

John sets off early this morning

2 comments:

old rambler said...

So right about the Winterwatch programme, Gail. Very personal for me because I was then a 21 year old bobby in Sheffield city centre spending nights walking the beat in several feet of snow and it kept coming! So bad that I got frostbite in my ears. Old sweats boasted of wearing their wives' tights but my (then) mother in law bought me a pair of long-johns. Brrrrr! And then in 1978 I was at Bridestowe when Okehampton was cut off for a week with 12 ft drifts at Sourton Cross. Memorable!

Maggie May said...

Your garden looked magical but the snow didn't last long, did it? I'm sure everything is different in appearance now. Hopefully Spring flowers.
Hoping you are OK as you haven't blogged for awhile.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

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