Web Page 2012
28th December 2013
Top Picture: Blocks of ice floating in Portsmouth Harbour.
Bottom Picture: An isolated farm in Lancashire, and this was in April!
Firstly Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to all of you. But do you remember the Christmas fifty one years ago?
The Big Freeze
It was Boxing Day in 1962 when the skies darkened and it started to snow and at the age of 16+ it was the nearest that I had come to remembering a real White Christmas. Come to think of it I cannot think of another since either. None of us actually believed that a) it would lay and b) if it did lay it would not last long, little knowing that it was going shroud the whole of country in snow well into March 1963 and in some places into April.
Life had to change as the freeze continued past the first few days. Like many other people we had no central heating in the house only coal fires, electric fires and paraffin heaters. Our coal bunker was just outside the back door and was full of coal all bought at the summer prices. Very soon a mini snow drift blocked the access hole on the bunker and so my father and I dug it out and filled every bucket, scuttle and box we could find with coal and brought it into the small conservatory on the back of the house, just in case. Little did we know how long this situation was to last. The other mode of heating apart from a couple of two bar reflector heaters (one was a wedding present to my parents from my uncle) were paraffin heaters, one in the bathroom, one in the hallway and one in the back room and after a few days of the snow I remember my father diligently going round to each heater and trimming the wicks and topping the tanks up and desperately hoping that the paraffin delivery man would manage to do his round and deliver more supplies. Which he eventually did!
Despite all these precautions and plenty of hot water bottles and blankets on the beds, the nights were cold and we still woke up in the mornings with ice on the inside of the windows. My father had to travel by bus from Farlington into the Dockyard to go to work each day and he had to allow at least an extra hour each way to complete his journey. I remember him coming home very late as the bus was delayed and telling us that there were great lumps of ice to be seen floating around Portsmouth Harbour.
Transport really suffered during this spell of bad weather, especially the railway network. It was interesting to note that the main line through Cosham, which was still steam hauled with some diesel units occasionally was still running a fairly regular service, whereas on the Portsmouth Direct route to London which used the third rail electric system of traction, there were tremendous hold ups as the conductor rail and pick up shoes on the trains froze over causing either violent sparking and flashing or the complete failure of the trains. I remember standing in my parent’s bedroom window looking down over Farlington and seeing enormous sparks and flashes, which originated along the railway line it looked just like a raid in wartime someone said.
One of the other major problems was the A3 road over Portsdown Hill, the movement of heavy lorries and buses was very dangerous, going up was a problem but coming down was even worse with every chance of slipping and skidding on the compacted ice and snow. But cars travelling northwards were a great source of revenue to us. A friend and I, once we realized there was a problem with them climbing the hill, made our way to the hill road and by offering ourselves as pushers we invariably got the car to The George where the grateful motorist, more often than note gave us at least half a crown for our trouble. Easy, but cold, money and this went on for days!
The funny thing is I really cannot remember missing one day’s schooling despite the frozen roads and terrible weather. We, and our teachers, must have been a hardy lot because today it seems that there just has to be a light flurry of snow and my grandson’s school closes and all the kids are sent home for the day.
Do you remember the Big Freeze? Maybe you have some memories you could add. If so please get in touch.
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News and Views:
On this Day 28th December 1960-1965
On 28/12/1960 the number one single was I Love You - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Tottenham Hotspur. The top rated TV show was The Arthur Haynes Show (ATV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £not very interesting and 13.68 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada).
On 28/12/1961 the number one single was Moon River - Danny Williams and the number one album was Another Black & White Minstrell Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 28/12/1962 the number one single was Return to Sender - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Everton. The top rated TV show was "Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £Worst snowstorms in UK for 20 years and 12.89 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Take Your Pick (AR)".
On 28/12/1963 the number one single was I Want to Hold Your hand - The Beatles and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 28/12/1964 the number one single was I Feel Fine - The Beatles and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was East End shooting linked to Krays.
On 28/12/1965 the number one single was Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out - The Beatles and the number one album was Rubber Soul - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.