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This Winter is mild compared with 1963!

The winter of 1962–1963 (also known as the Big Freeze of 1963) was one of the coldest winters on record in the United Kingdom. 

That year the UK had one of its worst winters in living memory.

The snow started on Boxing Day 1962 and the big freeze lasted until March.

Lakes and rivers froze across the country amid biting temperatures and there were even patches of ice on the sea. Huge ice boulders formed on beaches and blizzards caused snowdrifts up to 20ft (6m) deep.

The Arctic conditions meant thousands of schools closed, telephone lines were brought down and power cuts hit thousands of homes.

Snow blocking the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham during the frozen winter of 1963.

Snow blocking the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham during the frozen winter of 1963.

Temperatures dropped as low as minus 22.2C (minus 8F) on January 18 1963 in Braemar, Aberdeenshire.

January that year was the coldest month since 1814. There was snow everywhere and strong winds from the north and east. It was unremittingly cold. Most of England and Wales had a blanket of snow right through the month.

In February 1963 a huge snowstorm struck Northern Ireland, south west England and Wales. That led to a fall of nearly 5ft (1.5m) in Tredegar in Monmouthshire – an outstanding amount of snow.

 What do  you remember about the Winter of 1963?

 

 

 

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Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fuelling fun for the young at heart!

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jhc70
14th Feb 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
I was doing my military training at Catterick during that period. It was bitterly cold, the whole area was deeply covered in snow and troops were falling ill with exposure and frostbite.
As a contrast, went from there to Libya. Two extremes.
Costezuela
21st Sep 2018
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember it well - My school was 9 miles away and we turned up at the bus stop on the first day of term and the 45 minute route took 3 hours! - we arrived at the school gates wondering if we would be told off but instead were told to go straight back home and that the school was closed for 2 more weeks! - Great news for a 14 years old!
HerefordAnn
12th Dec 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I lived in Bournemouth back then and we hardly saw any snow (in my lifetime) until 1962/63. I loved it but I must admit I lived in the centre of the town so I was in walking distance of where I worked. Everywhere looks so pretty in the snow.
Ladyfromthesea
26th Oct 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I think I was nine. I could walk on top of the snow, because a layer of ice had formed over it. The thing I remember most though, was walking to school, and it was so cold the snot in my nose formed itself into tiny balls of ice, which upset me rather a lot, making breathing uncomfortable! Or is that TMI?
John Littleford
28th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I lived in the Peak District and had a paper round. To deliver some papers I had to walk through my grammar school which had a eight foot wall around it but the gate was always open. The day the snow fell I could not find the gate so I walked up the snow drift over the wall, where I thought it was and down the other side. This went one for several weeks.
The school did not close and students from Hope Valley and beyond all came to school everyday through Cowburn tunnel behind a steam engine with big snow plough. We did not have the wrong sort of snow in those days!
silverhair
8th Apr 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Got married September 1963 in Slough, dont remember if it was that cold although we had a short shower as i came out of church.
Monnow
5th Feb 2016
0
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I remember being at a family party on Boxing Day evening and someone coming in and saying you need to move it`s snowing. We took two hours to drive the 10miles home in an A35 van. After that everything froze until March. It was so cold that my mother used to iron the sheets on the bed before we got in. Only one room in the house was heated. Bedrooms were regularly covered in frost. The river Wye froze over completely. My father was working outside on construction building the Severn Bridge, conditions were awful. Football League matches had to be played mid-week afternoon to catch up with the postponed fixtures. Something you never forget.
BrummieJan
2nd Feb 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
We moved in Dec 1963! I was 9. Into a 3-bed house with no carpets, top of a hill, only heating a coal fire in the lounge.
Ritaco
1st Feb 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 28 and working at the City at the time. In London we did not realise what the countryside was like. I caught the 5.35 to Welwyn garden City. When I arrived I found my younger sister who worked there waiting for me. The little single track train to our village of Wheathampstead was not running. It was snowing . We decided to walk (about 5 or 6 miles). The road in the town did not seem bad. We had walked a couple of miles into the countryside. This was a top road so the snow was falling across us. At the bottom of a hill we could see car rearlights . In front of that, the road almost completely was snow from one hedge top to the other. We were not the only people walking..quite a few in both directions. We carried on as we had little choice. The rest of the journey was finding a gap by the road for a way. then clambering to the other side of hedged. Of course stepping into puddles of water. It was well after nine when we arrived home. The next day the village was completely cut off. The following day the little train was running.
silverpat
1st Feb 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
It was so cold, bitterly cold. It caused a lot of problems with transport. We were not used to the huge amount of snow.
avondale
1st Feb 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
I was very pregnant and fell over in the snow and it was almost impossible to get up again as I rolled.. like a barrel!
merskits
1st Feb 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
I was 14 at the time and can remember it very well. I lived in a small village in Hertfordshire and we where cut off for days if not weeks. The Baker and Milkman vehicles had to be dug out and the contents stored in our house, My father rode my pony across the fields as the roads where out of action,to buy candles as we had no electric. My mother tried to walk into the main village, but realised she was walking on top of a 6 foot hedge .The men of the village could not get to work , so they dug out the roads,my father and brothers being amongst them. I could not get to school which was 8 miles away ,but had great fun Tobogganing instead ,but it was very cold
Ruth Bradshaw
25th Jun 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
We got married 5 January 1963 . Snow up to the eyeballs . Lino on the floor's , coal fire ..frozen pipes , iced up window's no double glazing or central heating . No need for a fridge . 51 yrs later & four children , eight grandchildren. Have lived to tell the tale , & no regret's , all in life's colourful tapestry .
Mike Wilson
13th Jun 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 18 and a fireman with British Rail, in 1963 I was based at Bletchtely, some evenings we hitched a steam engine to several diesel units in the shed and heated them all night to prevent freezing up.
That same year after the train robbery, we would see loads of police searching the fields nearby.
Georgina Hicks
18th Apr 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember the winters of 1940, 1947 and 1963 very well. In each of these years the edges of the sea froze. We skated on the local reservoir and walked on hedges. My husband was home on leave from the RAF
in December 1946 and had his leave extended because of travelling difficulties getting back. Great timing!
Corinne spink
28th Mar 2014
0
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I was living in a small hamlet nr Dorchester Dorset..working as nanny for 3 small children, their mother was working away from home and was unable to get home for weeks..the children missed her so much,luckily we had a wonderful neighbour who gave us so much help and was really friendly towards me,I don't know how I would have managed without her.
I remember the children hated going out in the snow it was very difficult keeping them occupied.
Nicolette Meyer
2nd Mar 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
I was born in the middle of it so don't remember it. My Mother told me that I was born at 01:30 in the middle of a blizzard though. Maybe that is why I've hated winter ever since!
Gail Shepherd
10th Feb 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 9 sister age7 and sister age4 my Mum and Dad broke up an old shed for firewood, I was allowed to take it into the front room, my sisters watched from the kitchen window standing on a chair. My Dad cut off the bottom of the Silver Cross pram and we pulled my little sister around in the road outside many times with screams of laughter. A willow tree in the front garden which I loved was already burnt, what lovely fires we had with potatoes, toast and marshmallows to eat. Now aged 60 my husband and I have just bought an old property with an open fire, getting back to childhood memories and doing it all again in the most beautiful little village. How lucky I am to have had such simple pleasures which I treasure.
Peter Holloway
3rd Feb 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
Hard to forget that, was in the navy and had just returned from the warmth of the far east,the ship I was on had to go into dry dock at Devonport.On board there was no heating and it was freezing,good to go ashore in the evening just to get warm in a pub .Snow had gone by the end of March when I got married which lasted 48 years.
Malcolm Hughes
27th Jan 2014
1
Thanks for voting!
I will never forget the winter of 1962/3. I was 12 yrs old. I remember a particular Sunday morning. I was on my way to Brass Band rehearsal with Thornsett Brass Band ( New Mills, High Peak ). I had to walk over a snowdrift which must have been 8 feet high and found a car completely buried under it.
We lived in a crescent with a large grassed area and all we kids that lived around it built a massive igloo.
We too had thick ice on the insides of our windows and got dressed whilst still under the bed covers.
STEPHEN HOYE
16th Jan 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
Remember it very well even though I was only 12 at the time. Football was severely hit and a record from a local league said season abandoned due to 10 weeks of ice and snow. Being at school was fun as there were slides all over the old playground as it was called. Once the snow had turned to solid ice, senior school members cut blocks and made an igloo.
Gerald Goodwin
7th Mar 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I must have had other things on my mind like getting engaged in that winter because although I was 20 I do not remember anything about the big freeze of that year.. Sad init...LOL
Angela
6th Mar 2013
1
Thanks for voting!
No central heating in those days.Icicles inside the windows. We went to school as normal no snow days we just carried on as best we could.
I think we were made of sterner stuff an today's kids.
Beattie Gregory
1st Mar 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
We lived on a farm and I had just had a baby, and the snow was so deep I didn't go out for six weeks, spent our time chopping logs for the fire to keep warm.
Diane
27th Feb 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember it I was 18 had just got married to an airman stationed just outside of Bath. We went to spend Christmas with my parents in Bristol. When it started to snow my husband left to get back to camp and I followed with my sister the next day, A journey which normally took a couple of hours took us nearly all day and once we reached home my sister was stuck there for nearly a month it was a dreadful winter,
Alison
25th Feb 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was nine,then and can remember lots of snow and ice,in Bucks
Anne Lenten
24th Feb 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
In Cornwall we rarely have snow, so that winter when I was 13, it was very exciting to have deep snow over Christmas. By the time the holidays ended, the novelty had worn off! Our all-girls school uniform did not permit the wearing of trousers, tights had not been invented for our age group so we just had to get used to being cold.
Our headmistress was Miss Bain, a dour Scot, so no lenience there. She thought we were too soft from our mild Cornish winters, so a bit of bracing cold would do us good.
By the time the thaw came, the beautiful white snow had turned to grey slush on the pavements and even in the fields, the drifts were edged with black soot from all the chimneys that were smoking day and night.
Being a child, I got off lightly, only having to get to & from school on the bus, then slide along the pavements, but for my Mum, keeping the house warm and meals on the table and for my Dad a self-employed builder, unable to get much done in the frost, it must have been a nightmare. They also had to look after elderly neighbours with fuel & food, as people did then. It put me off snow for life.
Lillian&William Barnett
22nd Feb 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
We were living in a ,cottage in Herefordshire,in a country lane and the continuous freezing meant deliveries were impossible , we did not have any mode of transport ,and to keep our open fire going i well remember being on one end of a crosscut saw and William on the other end sawing atree from our hedge for our only means of fuel and the only heat in the cottage ,this weather continued from Boxing day 1962until march 1963.good thing we were young at that time and able to cope although William had just started work again after a road accident resulting in a com pound fracture of the left tibula and fibula.!!!!. glad to still be here to tell the tale !!!!!!!!!!!!
caroline ponting
15th Feb 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember it well my Daughter was born on 17th Febuary 1963 in the maternity hospital Bath Road, Swindon,When i came out the council had cut pathways on the pavements so people could get about. I did not have far to go as i lived in Goddard Avenue. It was really bad everyware. Those were the days .what would it be like if that happened now, 2013.
Fiona Glover
15th Feb 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 10 and lived in a flat in Cheltenham with my mum. The pipes froze (they were on the outside of the building) We didnt have water for three months. The water cart used to come round every day so we could fill up saucepans etc and then mum used to get drinking water from a friend in town and carry it home. We take our tap water so much for granted in this country.
Elsie
26th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 17 and living in Stockton on Tees. I can remember ice on the inside of the windows every morning and wearing everyhing I had to go to bed, with my old school coat on top of the bedding as well! Always had chillblains as we huddled around the coal fire every night. The buses and trains seemed to manage to run OK but there wasn't as much private traffic in those days.
brian dixon
22nd Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
i was 24 in that year and remember driving my first car a riley elf mini up a steep hill to get to work very proud of myself but no one else turned up so had to go back home lol.
Rick Whalen
22nd Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I do remember a long walk from Abingdon town to RAF Abingdon, where we lived at the time, in thick snow after a day at school in Oxford. I think the bus got to Abingdon but nothing was going the last few miles. I would have been nearly 13. After that we just seemed to struggle on somehow. I can`t remember being off school.....well, we were much hardier in those days 🙂
Laraine Parker
21st Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was in my early teens, and ill, as usual with asthma. However, I remember thinking it magical and wanted it to go on. Voicing this wish to our next door neighbour was a mistake as she replied, 'You would say that if you 'ad to walk on it, my gal!'
jill evans
20th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I WAS 17 AT THE TIME,I LIVED IN SHARDEND BIRMINGHAM,AND WORKED IN A FACTORY IN LOZELLS B.HAM.I HAD TO GET TWO BUSES TO WORK,AND NEVER THOUGHT TWICE ABOUT IT,MY BOYFRIEND THEN,BUT HUSBAND NOW LEARNT HIMSELF TO DRIVE IN THOSE CONDITIONS AND PASSED HIS TEST FIRST TIME,AND THEN WENT ON TO BE A HGV DRIVER,UNTIL HE RETIRED.
keith briody
19th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
i was 6 months old in dec 62 i was in hospital over that christmas how the ambulance managed i will never know
charmian
19th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
In 1963, I was 15. My mum and dad were managing a public house called The Malsters, which was situated on the edge of Ranworth Broad in Norfolk. What a magical winter! The Broad completely froze over to a depth of 3ft (1 metre) at least. An ancient gentleman from the village tested the depth every day and finally declared that it was safe to walk across the entire length of the Broad and also safe for skaters. Of course, word got around and at the weekends people from far and wide arrived with their ice skates or to walk across the Broad. It was great business for my mum and dad, as usually it was quiet in the winter - their main trade was the summer visitors in their boats and cruisers. "Whiskey mac" was the favourite winter tipple for the visitors! (That is whiskey topped up with ginger wine). Gorgeous drink! (I was allowed to have a very small sip!) The skaters and visitors came week after week. The ice and snow went on for ever. One morning I remember opening my bedroom curtains and it was "fairy land" indeed. A silver frost had occurred. The sun was shining and all the trees shrubs, grass, snow, and frozen Broad shimmering and twinkling. It was truly magical. It was something I have never forgotten, even though I am now an ancient old grandma!
Helen Green
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 9 and I remember the school milk bottle tops lifting up with the ice and the birds got to them first.
Bernie Barrett
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 10. The WRVS knitted balaclavas to keep the schoolkids warm. Mine was orange, I had some fashion conscious friends who didn't wear theirs but my Mum insisted. Plus the boots! Tiny fur trimmed ankle boots were in fashion - even for 10 year olds. My Mum had got hold of a pair of hideous clodhoppers for me!
Probably scarred me for life that Winter.
Gaynor
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 9yrs old, and remember that we went to see a pantomime in the Palace Theatre . When we came out it had been snowing , Dad got us home in the car... to the prefab... we couldn't see the 2 flights of steps up to the front door....so Dad carried Mum up the steps to the door ....Happy times xx
Sandra Golding
18th Jan 2013
0
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I was aged 20 and had just joined thre WRNS and was stationed at Chatham and even though I was from North Yorkshire, the South was hit very badly. Our intake must have been the only one's in the WRNS who could not march properly, as every were there was solid ice, but be April I was stationed at Plymouth and it was a beautiful spring, such a difference.
Lesley Caton
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 11, and remember going to a different school for cookery classes and was about 1.1/2 mile walk, my fingers were so cold I thought they would drop off!! I also remember scraping the ice off the "inside" of the windows, they made lovely web designs lol
ANNE KENNY
18th Mar 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember it well I was 15 years old and just started my first job as an Office Junior, All the pipes in the office froze, we couldnt flush any of the toilets, because all the water pipes were frozen, central heating not working, the Boss took the office staff( three) of us out to lunch for about two weeks, believe me as a 15 year old I thought this was fantastic. Luckily in some ways, I lived a ten minute walk from my Office Job, So didnt rely on transport, I walked there every day slipping & sliding on the snow that had been turned into packed ice,
agnes caldwell
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
lived in belfast shore road then and remember it well ,,we kids had loads of fun,,we had to go down on to shore road to collect our milk and bread of milk van and bread van as they culdn get up hill , it last for along time,
Jean Hall
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
Yes I remember it well! I was 24 and my first baby who was then 5 months old. We moved into our first house on 6th January 1963, and had to dig our way in! All the pipes were frozen and couldn't even flush the loo. There was no central heating in it then, and had to dress the baby up in coat and hat to go to bed. We survived though!
bevupshall
18th Jan 2013
0
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I was 16 years old and started work on the 15th January. Had to walk one and a half miles to the station to get train to work. Got chilblains that year, never had them since. No central heating in those days had to get dressed in the kitchen, the only warm room in the house! Don't remember any buses or trains not running.
angela Jones
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 10 years old, my mum sent me to pay the rent which was about 1 mile away, I lost the rent on way trudging through the snow. when I got home, my mum made me go back & look for it, I never found it, was probally buried under the snow somewhere as it was up to my knees
Lynne Mc keag
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 2 1/2 yrs old and my mum slid on the ice and the pram slid down a hill and tipped. My mum used to tell me about it and how terrified she was that i was hurt. We lived in a small village in west lothian scotland glad to say i was not hurt but my poor mum was covered in bruises.
Pauline Wolf
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 15 and living in Hertford. One Sunday my father and I were going to church and the bus could not get up a slope on the way, so the passengers had to get off and push it! School was closed but I still had to go to church.
jennifer odd
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
think i was 14, cant remember it that well,
Bob Dewhurst
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember going to school on the school bus, passing houses in Bacup, where the snow had drifted up to the upstairs bedroom windows!
John Cooper
18th Jan 2013
0
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I was twenty six and I remember pushing a large pram with my two children inside, wrapped all cosy and warm whilst dad froze.
CAROL JONES
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I WAS 17 SO I CAN REMEMBER IT VERY WELL THE ICE SEEMED TO LAST FOR EVER
Carol Haselwood
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
We lived in Singapore at the time and were home on leave over that winter. It was a real culture shock! I remember building a snowman with my brothers and it was dressed up with my school hat and scarf. One of my brothers held me down and the other stuffed snow down my jumper (I was nine) - i have hated snow ever since!
Sheila Gwilliam
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
Yes I was 16 at time had left school and started first job and we lived in a small village on the borders of Monmouthshire and Herefordshire where it was particularly bad. Funnily although I hate the cold I don't remember how cold it was but I do remember the snow freezing on your eyelashes and lips. I walked 5 miles across the tops of hedges to get a lift into my job and then had to stay with my boyfriend as he lived closer to the town until I could get back home. Even then I think we only got half way along good roads and then had to walk the rest.
Anita White
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 16 and training as a hairdresser iworked for Marie Delahays which was opposite to my home so no missing work playing snowball fights !!!!!
Gill Charlick
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was six at the time and I have quite a lot of memories. I just put being cold down to the fact we had little money. I remember ice on the inside of the windows, and getting dressed whilst still in bed. My Dad took me to the local park and I messed about on the frozen pond wondering where all the ducks were. My Dad would wizz me about on the ice whilst I sat on my little handbag. We had no car so I do not remember the roads, but there were not as many vehicles anyway! Dad made me a sledge from bits of wood and some metal strips but was a bit scared of that!
Colin Smith
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was 10 and remember we were able to go sledging every weekend . My dad even made a long sledge for 4 .Window with frost on the inside. I don't remember all the who ha with the press forecasting doom and gloom .
Anita White
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi John
John White was 16 & at Outward Bound school in Wales even his boots froze on his feet so he had to sleep in them Anita
Christine Jones [Whiting]
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was also six!!!!!! I lived in Ashtead, surrey.
I remember walking with my Dad and sister, and Ashtead Pond being completely frozen solid. Coal fires at home then and power cuts!

I think we went to scholl eventually and walking home through freezing fog!!!!

The best bit was that everyone pulled together. you just don't get that anymore!!!!
I live in Wales now and we usually get snow!!!!!
Pauline Harris
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember the winter of 62-63,I had a eight month old son who had to be carried everywhere as you could'nt use a pram or pushchair but i can't remember buses not running as I had to get my son to his nursery so that I could get to work,I was eighteen at the time and lived at Tadworth,Surrey and worked at Ronsons lighter company in Leatherhead so quite a journey.
Marion Nichols
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
I was just a small child in 1963 and we lived in the country. Snowed in, cut off completely, no school but we had a grand time. What we lacked in iPads, mobile phones etc, we had sledges, jam and bread and a time to come in. We all looked after each other and made sure we were safe. I look back now and think was life a lot simpler then?? Our local Bobbie sledged with us, so did that give a feeling of safety.
Linda Willing
18th Jan 2013
0
Thanks for voting!
Can just remember it.....I was 6, and living in Swindon

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