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Winterwatch - The Big Freeze of 1963


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Old 20-01-2013, 16:12
Glenn A
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The really bad winters since the war have been 1946-47, 1954-55, 1962-63, 1969-70, 1978-79, 1984-85, 1990-91, 1993-94, 1995-96, 2009-10, 2010-11. On balance this winter has been average with spells of mild and cold weather.
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Old 20-01-2013, 16:29
petertree
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I remember the snow starting in London on Boxing Day. On the 27th 5 of us packed into a small ford popular (with no heater) and headed to Aberdeen in Scotland. We were warned by several people it was impassible but we carried on and did arrive the next day. Coming back Dad was scared to stop and did the 500 odd miles in 19 hours. I can remember the car following the ruts in the road and the tail-lights of lorries. We did have a wonderful holiday and family reunion. The sea was indeed frozen on the shore. The snow was far better for snowballs and snowmen in Scotland -much drier. I reckon if we had the communications we had now, we would never have gone. I think we were mad, but wonderful memories
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Old 20-01-2013, 17:00
Spruce
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December 81 was good for snow around here only past my test in May so good for learning to cope with my Dad's Morris Marina. 78/79 was cold and snowy as well and February 86 was very cold.

Apart from 78/79 don't remember too many cold 70s' winters as a child.
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Old 20-01-2013, 17:04
keicar
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I think that is a huge part of the problem now. With the advent of almost universal car ownership, many people now live a significant car journey away from their place of work or school, so it is no longer a question of just getting your boots on, setting out a bit earlier and walking.

I do wonder whether things would be better from a commuting, general health, local community and lifestyle viewpoint if more of us lived within walking distance of our work and schools.
Have my Dads diary from 1963, he was a sales manager and drove from Bristol To Devon on the 6th January, and he reports drifts of five feet.

Amazing to think he did it in a Ford Anglia on crossply tyres and pre motorway.

Also interesting to note that we had a heavy down fall of snow on the 1st of January, yet he still worked, New Years Day wasn't a national holiday back then!

December 81 was good for snow around here only past my test in May so good for learning to cope with my Dad's Morris Marina. 78/79 was cold and snowy as well and February 86 was very cold.

Apart from 78/79 don't remember too many cold 70s' winters as a child.
Can recall most winters since 1970, IMO and as far as I can recall 78/79 was the worst with the most days off school, 81/82 was also bad, I remember one night it falling to -15, yet it was short lived just over the Christmas and New Year period.
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Old 20-01-2013, 17:24
rionia
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My mum said they couldn't bury my granddad for months because the ground was frozen.

I don't remember as I wasn't born til 64.
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Old 20-01-2013, 17:38
Billy Hicks
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One of my earliest memories, as a two year old, is walking around our garden in the heavy snow of February 1991. That was the winter that wasn't matched until 2009, although I remember the end of 1995 being pretty bad (helped by spending a Christmas in a blizzard-filled Aberdeen).

Otherwise I don't remember much here in London at all until the last half-decade or so...lots of minor snow flurries but they'd generally miss the capital completely. January 2003 was probably the biggest of the noughties until '09 happened...but saying all that, watching the 1963 programme it does make you wonder what all the recent fuss is about
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Old 20-01-2013, 17:48
Spot
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I think that is a huge part of the problem now. With the advent of almost universal car ownership, many people now live a significant car journey away from their place of work or school, so it is no longer a question of just getting your boots on, setting out a bit earlier and walking.

I do wonder whether things would be better from a commuting, general health, local community and lifestyle viewpoint if more of us lived within walking distance of our work and schools.
I went to a prep school for four years between 1965 and 1969, which had pupils come in from a very wide area and whilst a couple of the teachers did live on site (as there were also boarders) some lived quite a distance away. We had some quite significant snow during those years, yet the school always opened and everyone got in. We didn't mollycoddle children then and teachers were seen as no different to the rest of the working population, many of whom have long journeys to work but almost always succeed in completing them, whilst teachers following the same routes mysteriously can't.
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Old 20-01-2013, 18:20
juswotmawatchin
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What astonishes me is the way that people just got on with it, without all the modern conveniences of today.

Limited , if any communication, meant word of mouth. Communities forged together.

The HUge heavy sodden coats.

The thousands of men(and Women) digging with shovels days on end, then more days on end.

Thankfully no Youtube, Twatter, or 24 /7 news to overhype, lie and Bore us to death and put national panic in our breasts.

Just snow , ice and REAL live people and communities.
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Old 20-01-2013, 18:46
Sad_BB_Addict
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From Ratings thread
Winterwatch 1963 - The Big Freeze: 3.00m (13.9%)

Very good for BBC2. It even beat BBC1's ridiculous Richard Hammond show.
Guess it works as nostalgia for older people and an interesting history lesson for younger folk.
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Old 20-01-2013, 20:08
lundavra
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I went to a prep school for four years between 1965 and 1969, which had pupils come in from a very wide area and whilst a couple of the teachers did live on site (as there were also boarders) some lived quite a distance away. We had some quite significant snow during those years, yet the school always opened and everyone got in. We didn't mollycoddle children then and teachers were seen as no different to the rest of the working population, many of whom have long journeys to work but almost always succeed in completing them, whilst teachers following the same routes mysteriously can't.
My school also had a large catchment area but I don't remember it ever closing for snow or any significant number of people failing to get in.
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Old 28-02-2013, 08:28
Spot
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Bumping this thread as the programme gets another airing tonight (Thursday 28th Feb) on BBC2 at 11.20 - well worth watching if you didn't catch it in January.
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Old 28-02-2013, 09:47
boksbox
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My school also had a large catchment area but I don't remember it ever closing for snow or any significant number of people failing to get in.
How easy would it be to close a school in those days though?, my senior school was just under 3 miles away and no one I knew had a phone in the late 60s, now schools can email, SMS etc put the closure on their website.
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Old 28-02-2013, 10:04
merlinsmum
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Bumping this thread as the programme gets another airing tonight (Thursday 28th Feb) on BBC2 at 11.20 - well worth watching if you didn't catch it in January.
Thanks, I missed it first time around.
I remember it well as I was 8. We didn't miss any school either, the council workers cut paths along the main street for us to get to school and town. I lived in Mid Wales then. I also remember going for a walk with family in the evening, and the snow was so deep it was over the tops of the normally 12 foot high hedges. We were guessing were the exact road was. My uncle told me to follow in his footsteps for safety and at one point as we were returning home, the whole town went into darkness. so all we could see was the moon and stars, and all we could hear was the crunch of us walking in the snow.
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