Thursday, February 05, 2009
Winter and Rough Weather
All the media hype about the snow during the past few days has made me think back to the days of my childhood and before when cold, snowy winters were the norm rather than the exception. The photo above was taken yesterday, a pretty sight and perfectly fine for walking in.
Now this is a rather different scene, a photograph taken in the Peak District in the winter of 1946/47, the very first winter of my life. Here German POWs are clearing snow from a railway cutting.
This photo and the next were taken in North Yorkshire also in 1947. Life was hard just after the war without any extra dificulties, both food and fuel were severely rationed,everyone had coal fires for heating and the power stations were also fuelled by coal but there simply wasn't enough coal being produced so the Government introduced power cuts - the electricity was off between 9am-12pm and 2pm-4pm every day and buying enough coal to light even the smallest of fires was like finding gold dust.
This man and his dog are dwarfed by the huge drifts at the side of the road but at least the snow plough seems to have got through by this stage. The snow began on January 21st in the south and southwest of England and it was the middle of March when the thaw began causing terrible flooding. In many parts of England it snowed virtually every day in February. This is an excerpt fom a book of mine called 'Letters From Compton Deverell' which was written during early February of 1947:
" The bitter spell has returned. Since I last wrote there has been a dramatic change, yesterday it snowed all day long and most of the night as well. Much of the north of England is cut off, Manchester and Buxton, Scarborough and Whitby are isolated, Lincolnshire is buried deep. The Great North Road is blocked near Grantham with vast drifts, trains are buried, farms are being provisioned by airplane, in short, it is the hardest winter in the memory of most people living today. "
So maybe things aren't so bad after all - the present day media have obviously never experienced a real snowfall or they wouldn't make so much fuss about what is, after all, just a few inches!
The Great North Road was the old Mail Coach route from London to York and Edinburgh which is now known, rather less romantically, as the A1. It runs up the eastern side of England through the flat Fen country and is a road I use regularly on my trips to Suffolk. It was once reknowned as a haunt of highwaymen including the infamous Dick Turpin. Nothing to do with snow but still an interesting bit of information :)
Edited to add that Roy, in his comment, has given a really interesting link to a Met Office article which I'm putting here as a live link since I can't edit the comment. Thanks Roy!