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Winterwatch 1963 - The Big Freeze


A Face like Thunder

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Posted
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire

I am sure many contributors will have seen last night's Winterwatch 1963 - The Big Freeze programme on BBC4 (thanks for the reminder day 10). It was a repeat but still fascinating viewing for anybody with a long memory and a liking of anything to do with British weather. Cards were shown by the Met Office showing the various stages of that harshest of winters, and although this would be regarded as amateurish now, I found it really helpful seeing the various weather patterns throughout Dec (1962), January and February 1963. The effects of the Big Freeze were graphically illustrated, with cars being driven across the frozen Thames and staff at RAF Fylingdales on the N Yorkshire Moors being walked 4 miles across the moors to safety after becoming stranded at work (I can't see that happening now). The effects on gas, electricity, coal and water were huge and - as one contributor has recently pointed out - perhaps gives us a warning about the lack of secondary back up fuel supplies in our modern centrally heated homes. All-in-all a fascinating programme and one which would be well worthwhile catching up with if you missed last night's programme.    

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Posted
  • Location: Crymych, Pembrokeshire. 150m asl
  • Weather Preferences: Extremes of all kinds...
  • Location: Crymych, Pembrokeshire. 150m asl

Yes - I’ve just watched that excellent documentary which was made in 1963 at the end of that historic winter.  I haven’t seen it before.  I was 10 years old at the time but can’t really remember much except the huge drifts in the roads and the television coverage showing pictures of airdrops of food to farms all over the south west.  I also remember that the we went back to school as normal which was about a mile and half walk from home.  I don’t remember pipes freezing or water being distributed from tankers but maybe it didn’t register with me at that age.  The documentary footage is very evocative of the time and the language used sometimes archaic by today’s standards so it’s a very interesting capture of the way we lived and thought back then.  The story covered trains being stuck in 20 foot snow drifts, the freezing of rivers, canals and even the coastal waters in estuaries, electricity and gas shortages and difficulties with coal distribution.   I doubt that we’ll ever see a winter like that again given all the difference climate change is making to our weather.

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