Through this week fifty years ago, the winter of 1963, and the Big Freeze continued. With snow forecast in the next few days across the UK, and the country doubtless grinding to a halt, and news people standing out in flurries trying to make out its really deep and chaotic and there's no grit etc....well it's all enough to make me cast my mind back. The snow had started on Boxing Day and apparently we didn't have another frost-free day in the entire country until March 5th
On February 4th fifty people spent the night stuck in a train on the edge of Dartmoor, and forty lorry drivers had to take refuge in a school near Okehampton.
We weren't living in Devon then. Though I was born here we had moved to Mitcham in Surrey in 1957, by 1963 I was nine and I have been trying to remember that winter, and the cold and just how did we manage??
We didn't have central heating or double glazing for a start, and I am sure it was paraffin heaters or freeze, and there was definitely ice on the inside of the windows. We must surely have had power cuts and candles??
I can clearly remember the snow compacted on the pavements for weeks on end.
I remember that school rarely closed, and if it did we had no idea it had until we got there because very few people had phones. We would just find the school gates locked. This would be after waiting ages for a bus, so we would turn round, wait ages for a bus home and ... well we would think nothing of it as far as I can recall.
I am almost certain this might have been the year my mum bought me a pair of these new inventions called 'tights'. Mine were Brettles royal blue, very thick and the boys at school immediately called my 'inky legs.'
If this wasn't the year I got the tights, then I was definitely standing waiting for the bus for hours in sub-zero temperatures wearing knee length fawn socks.
Oh yes, and I remember milk frozen in the bottles on the doorstep and pushing the lid off.
And that us about all I can recall, so now I am intrigued, can you jog my memory ... what do any of you (and you'll have to be over a certain age) remember about the winter of 1963??
And while you are remembering here's a very clever little film about the railways through that winter...