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1947, it started late January and went into March, I had joined the Army and it turned out to be a good thing, at least we got fed and had some warmth many in the Towns and Cities did not. Rail and Road communications came to a halt, Coal and Food could not be transported, Farms and Country Villages were totally cut off and to make things worse the Austerity was at its deepest with things rationed that had not been in wartime.

Pathe News showed pictures of snow up to the roof tops of houses with people digging themselves out of their houses, I have no memory of seeing a glimmer of sunshine whilst digging trains out in the wilds of west Durham, then came the floods in March snow melted but the ice did not give so water stood on the ice causing more mayhem, we had tracked vehicles that slid around on the ice, the unit had several wounded with broken bones from falling over.

Some say 1963 which was bad though those of us who saw the winters of 1940 and 1944 will also remember how bad it was, the Battle of the Bulge happened in December of that year.

What are your own memories of bad winters, last years floods will be lasting memories for some. At a time when we did not have Central Heating my memories are all of much earlier times, what are yours.



I grew up in Gt Yarmouth and in 1963 would have been 6 years old. I don't really remember the snow etc but I do remember being taken to the river mouth and watching great chunks of ice flowing down the river and in the sea. 

Presumably much of the ice came down from the Broads which have restricted water flow - but I think that was the year when some rivers and areas of sea froze over.

I was at work for the big snow of Feb 1979. Yarmouth was completely cut off and the snow drifts were up to the roof of our bungalow. No question of me getting to work as it was 15 miles away and all the roads were blocked. My mother tried to walk the 3 miles to her work but gave up when she sank up to her waist in one drift.

It only lasted for a few days so nothing like the 1947 / 1963 winters but fairly exciting at the time.

The town was also badly affected by the 1953 storm surge and my grandparents' cottage was flooded to the ground floor ceiling. My grandmother never quite recovered from that experience.


I remember the winter of '63 Topbird.  I was 11 years old in the January and we lived on a farm in a tiny hamlet in Mid Suffolk - we were cut off for what seemed like weeks - no snow ploughs or bulldozers - my Pa  and the farm workers and the men who lived in the cottages around us used their garden spades, grain shovels and whatever there was to dig a single track into the next village 3 miles away.  It took ages as Pa was a good six feet tall and couldn't see over the snowdrifts.  The pond at the edge of the farmyard was frozen absolutely solid and we children were allowed to play on the ice without supervision! 

It was fun for  children, but so hard for my parents on the farm - tractors wouldn't work as the diesel in the engines had frozen, and of course all the farm animals and poultry needed their water troughs filled up at least twice a day - that had to be done by getting buckets full of water from the kitchen sink as all the pipes and taps in the farm buildings were frozen.  No one had freezers full of food in those days, so we lived off of whatever there was in the cupboards, lots of soda bread was made,  and soups from dried pulses, tinned peas and beans, and carrots and potatoes etc in stores and whatever could be salvaged from vegetable gardens.  Pa would take his shotgun and go out for pigeons, pheasants, rabbits etc that were lurking around woodland and the thick hedges where the snow wasn't so deep, and Ma made sure that villagers had eggs.  The other farm in the village had dairy cows, so they made sure everyone had milk to drink.  Several chickens met their Maker a bit earlier than planned and provided meals for a few families.

The snow on the fields wasn't as deep in some places as on the roadways, as it had drifted in the wind, and a girl of 17 who worked at the bakery 8 miles away walked across the fields to get to work as she couldn't get there on her Lambretta scooter, and then stayed there until the thaw. 

Eventually the roads were clear enough for the milk tankers to get through and collect the milk from the dairy farms - that was the most important thing - then the regular deliveries from butchers, bakers etc began to be resumed and life began to return to normal ............... oh, and eventually the headmistress of the village school was able to get through in her Morris Minor from her home 10 miles away, and the freedom and fun ended and we went back to school ............

Dove you gave me a shock, I read it as  "Several children met their maker a bit earlier than planned providing meals" should have gone to spec savers.



I remember the winter of 63 when the snow came up over the tops of our wellies. Every family in the streets in the town was out at the crack of dawn shifting snow so we could all get to school. There were little narrow paths snaking everywhere. No traffic moved for days. Not sure now if we had snowploughs back then or not. 


Palaisglide says:

Dove you gave me a shock, I read it as  "Several children met their maker a bit earlier than planned providing meals" should have gone to spec savers.


See original post

 I think if it had gone on much longer Frank ....................... I'm sure there were some people eyeing up the more sturdily built of us ................

Dove, I would never dare say "sturdily built" in the presence of a Lady. Juanesque, Ruebens type but never what some of the uncouth would say such as " Brick toilet" square with a leg each side, children can be cruel.

Us from farms and smallholdings did tend to be better fed, I have memory of some of the very poor families in our village where children had Rickets. We had active Toc H, mother was in it, Church volunteers and others handing out food parcels during hard winters, some could not afford fuel for a fire often the only way of heating water or food. Dad would fill a sand bag with coal, take that to Mrs so and so, her husband was in jail for raiding a market garden for some roots, times were hard for some when the weather was warm, winter was hell.



I remember the winter of '63 but was 10 years old so, apart from being very cold getting dressed for school and being expected to drink frozen school milk, it was fun.

The worst for me was Jan 6th 2009.  Winter had already been cold for a couple of months but that night I got back from dancing and the temperature was -25C at 10:30pm on the sheltered south side.  During the night it went to -32C on the exposed north side with frost rolling down from the fields behind.   It stayed at -25C for several days but then warmed up to -20 or so for a couple of weeks.

Huge losses in the garden - roses, clematis, evergreen shrubs, conifers, assorted perennials and aquatic marginals.  

We had long winters there.  In 2007 it was still all frozen at Easter but -15C was the norm for a few weeks in Jan/Feb.   -20C was exceptional and usually accompanied by insulating snow.  Deep cold without snow is just devastating for plants.


'Brick toilet' is very refined Frank. In Suffolk it's a Brick sh**house, and a sturdily built girl would be called 'a whool mawther'.

Whool to rhyme with wool. 

Dove, you hit it, very refined, that is me, the girls in York next to Cavalry Barracks called me a proper Gentleman, I took my spurs of in bed.

My Granddad used to tell me to marry a well built country lass, she would know how to feed me and have babies without stopping the potato picking? I think he meant it.


'63 is the worst I remember.  We were living in Gloucester and travelling up to my Gran in Scotland on Boxing Day.  Taxi couldn't even get into our road so we had to drag cases down to the main road.  No fancy wheels on cases then and I was 12 years old.

Travelling back on the train and the snow was higher than the carriages.  Got home to discover the decorator's in the house (RAF so told, not asked, about decorating).  The decorator had on-going work in all but one of the rooms so we all had to bed down in there.  Mum complained to the Clerk of Works and the decorator was sacked on the spot!

What really upset me though, was to discover later that the snow had collapsed onto the line shortly after we passed through and the line was closed for nearly a fortnight.  If it had happened earlier I'd have had 2 weeks off school and been able to stay with my Gran longer.

I agree Chloe, it is better to be crisp and cold than what we in the NE call Mizzly.

What I remember most though is every very bad winter was followed by a heat wave summer. 1939-40 we seemed to be out on sledges in the field behind our house it had a lovely long run straight into a pond, luckily frozen, skating on the water meadows on the Billingham Bottoms where the mill streams ran it went on for weeks followed by a very warm summer and the Battle of Britain, a bit too warm methinks.  

1944-45 a very bad winter, more so on the Continent, the Battle of the Bulge, that summer was very hot I had started work and we were fitting guards to machines girls had worked on all the war years, they suddenly had to be made safe. We and the girls went out on the field near the factory to sun bathe and me very red faced fought off Zena who was always trying to kiss me in front of every one, they thought it amusing i thought it embarrassing, we live and learn but they were different times.

1947, from weeks of snow and ice to fighting bush fires in Hampshire, we prayed for rain that June it never happened, we dug fire breaks cut down bush and were caught in a flash fire in a copse, we dived off a bank into a stream and got away with a few blisters and loss of hair, not much to lose with the military cut.

Other bad winters led to hot summers, always being actively outdoors we noticed such things and the odd shower was often a relief. Going to a place where we never saw rain for nearly two years believe me you come to appreciate the British weather, rain hail or snow.



My sister was born in the winter of Jan 47, and I was born in the  december of the equally hideous winter of 62/63.

My mother said we were both close to NOT getting to hospital.

January 2010 was the worst for me, more because of where we were than really the severity of the weather. It was perishing cold - minus 16C here - and we were living in a shed at the time, having moved here to convert a barn only a few months previous. We were totally unprepared for the weather, the water supply froze solid for a fortnight, we had no snow chains so couldn't get the car out - 4 mile round trip for the shopping walking in deep snow was tough going - and a rather puny electric heater was all we had to keep warm. The worst part though was that my elderly mother had fallen and broken her ankle on the day the snow arrived, leaving my severely disabled father alone in the house for ten days while she was kept in hospital. I was already snowed in by the time I heard what had happened so couldn't get down to help him. We all ended up relying on neighbours - Dad for his meals, us for a shower.

By December of the same year when we had another heavy snowfall, Mum and Dad had carers organised, we had snow chains and had installed a log burner and we could enjoy the beauty of it.

I wasn't born in '63. I do remember 1978 - but as a child deep snow was just great fun and nothing to be worried about. 

Hostafan1 says:

My sister was born in the winter of Jan 47, and I was born in the  december of the equally hideous winter of 62/63.

My mother said we were both close to NOT getting to hospital.

See original post

 Ma told me that I was born in a snowstorm - Ma nearly didn't get to hospital - the ambulance spun round twice in the road on the ice that night - apparently I arrived around lunchtime the next day


'63 for me, I remember going for a family walk on Loch Lomond. Some brave/foolish lads (the Scott family who own the island?) drove a Mini over to Inchmurrin. '79 was another cold one, the diesel in buses fuel tanks would freeze while standing at the bus rank in East Kilbride so the mechanics were lighting fires under them to keep them running!


I was born December 62. My mother was having twins, me and my brother. They did not have a phone where they lived. My dad had to go out to the local telephone box to call for an ambulance, he had to take a shovel to clear the mounting snow from the phone box.


Glad the ambulance got there Jacqueline


I remember '63 when I was 12, but it was fun. We played in the snow and skated on the local lake.

The worst winter I remember was 1985/6 the year we moved to Dordogne. It was freezing, -25°. Our heating oil tank was in the garage and the oil went into the house through a pipe which froze so we had no heating. The farmer next door was great, he rigged up something with big containers of oil next to the boiler. When the thaw came my daughter's bedroom was flooded as she had a washbasin in her bedroom. The pipes froze and cracked. Our first house in France was an old watermill next to a river. Even the river froze. But another year during a wet winter the river flooded across the garden and the house was an island.

Mike Allen

1962/3.  I was a young recently married, Central London Traffic Cop.  As I had a young family, the duty rosta gave me Xmas day off.. Boxing day, I was early turn.  Shift starts at 07.00hrs.  In practice this meant, in post, up and ready to go by 06.30 hrs.  In those days.   CTS. Central Traffic Squad operated a basic two shift system. Seven til three and three to eleven.  Night traffic patrols were just taking off.  PC's and trafpols as we were called, perhaps had the misfortune of an all nighter, say once in three months.  Now back to the snow and winter.    I logged out of early shift on Boxing day.  Snow had started to fall.  It did so for a long time.  In fact.  In central/NW London, snow was still piled up on many side streets during April and early May.  The months proved terribly cold.  Most of my buddies were teamed up to cars. Being Advanced drivers/motorcyclist, it was perhaps thought, we could survive anything.  My small section, it seemed were left out in the cold.  We had only four days off the road.   No.  No spare car seats.  Back to flat caps and....walkies.  I recall one incidence.  I was parked up.  Along came an MG Sports car.   I tucked in behind him/her.  Evenentually it  had become oblivious of the snow/iced road.  The speed increased and.  The MG vanished.  My trusty Triumpgh Thunderbird drfted to a halt.  Crazy , yes.  To persue a speeding car , but that's life.  THe main chain on my bike had come adrift.  One day during this period.  All was quiet, so I ventured off course.  I went off patrol, and headed home.  To the arms of my beloved wife, and a hot drink.  I arrived.  Hugs kisses etc all there, but soon the pain.  My arms, hands and fingers.  Wow.  Help me please.  The pain of life returning to me.  No.  I have no shame in saying .  Yes I cried.  Yes.  I sobbed.  The pain as my body system came back.  Now the trek back to my patrol zone.   Then the gremlins came out.  Voices in my ears.  Mike.  What if you break dowm.  off patrol.  The winter conditions wre , to me.  The worst.  The job  police rgs etc another.  Bad winters.  Please Lord.  Never again.