Winter is coming. Well it’s January so to be more precise Winter is here, and people the length and breadth of Britain are moaning about the weather. They’re the same people that moan about it being too hot in the summer aren’t they? Ooh don’t get us started… here are a few stories from some of the worst British Winters ever :–
As part of the so-called ‘Little Ice Age’ of 1350 – 1850 the Winter of 1683-84 is the coldest on record. Do you think it’s getting chilly out there now? You’re probably correct as it probably is, but it’s nothing compared to The Great Frost – imagine the sea freezing and 11 in / 28cm of ice on The River Thames which was frozen all the way up to London Bridge. It remained like that for over two months, with a Frost Fair being held on it for much of that time. The gambling, ice skating and (gulp) bear-baiting that followed subsequently became what we now know as Chipperfield’s Circus – strange but true.
With Beatlemania on the cultural horizon ‘The Big Freeze’ (as the Winter of 1962-63 became known) gripped the nation. January was the coldest month of the 20th Century with an average temperature of -2.1degrees Centigrade, London had over a foot / 30 cm of drifting snow, a car was driven across the frozen Thames at Oxford and with so many football matches being postponed or abandoned The Pools Panel was instigated to decide what the results would have been for the people playing the football pools. Yeah yeah yeah.
The Winter of 1946-47 was especially harsh, not least as came so soon after the end of The Second World War. Much of the country was under a blanket of snow from January 22nd – March 17th, and with limited supplies of coal and oil many power stations had to reduce their output or even close completely. The Minister For Fuel And Power Manny Shinwell received death threats as blackouts occurred and potatoes were rationed for the first time ever as they were frozen into the ground. And only a few years later in December 1952 severe weather in London combined with pollution to cause The Great Smog, during which thousands died and many more became ill. Tough times.
More recently the so-called Winter Of Discontent (1978-79) was cold in more ways than one as it was the coldest since 1963, with 1981-82 not being too far behind. Coming even more up to date 2010/11 saw the heaviest snowfalls for many years across much of Britain including Uxbridge where Balcony Shirts staff cowered as a blizzard hit town and the street outside the shop disappeared under several inches of snow. Who knows what this Winter may yet have in store?