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U3A Writing: Snowbound

...The snow continued day after miserable day. Each time it fell, the last layer was frozen solid ready for the next batch. I don’t remember how long it took to fall, but one of our friends, Albert, who was in the army had come on leave from Egypt just as the first flakes fell. He spent his three months leave in England, returning to Egypt without seeing a blade of grass...

Marjorie Upson recalls the year when Britain was snowed in for months.

Middle of January 1947 - that was when the first pretty snowflakes began to fall. I remember this quite well. I was 16 at the time and still quite interested in snow. This particular day sticks in my mind because it was the day we were to move back into our house, 13 ,Broad Carr Terrace, having lived for nine months in No 9, whilst No 13 was altered. It now had a bathroom, new concrete floors and new decorations throughout. My uncle had come over from Dewsbury to help to move the furniture along the 20 yards or so from No 9 to No 13.

The snow continued day after miserable day. Each time it fell, the last layer was frozen solid ready for the next batch. I don’t remember how long it took to fall, but one of our friends, Albert, who was in the army had come on leave from Egypt just as the first flakes fell. He spent his three months leave in England, returning to Egypt without seeing a blade of grass.

Each day, Dad, who worked on the railway at odd hours of the day, had to dig his way out as No 13 was at the end of the row of houses, the access at our end being a steep flight of stone steps which there was no chance of clearing. The other way was to dig past all the other houses to the main road. There was a small footpath and unmade road in front of the houses, so when the path was cleared the ‘yard’ as we called it was piled mountainously high. To walk to the end was rather like passing through a tunnel in one of the Swiss mountains.

Once the main road was reached it was a case of ‘Shank’s Pony’ as in those days there were no bulk gritters to come and spread salt and sand. I don’t remember how long it was before the snow plough managed to make some semblance of a way through, but even when it did, the odd lorry with ashes thrown off behind was the only help we got. No one seemed to mind though. One just made the best of it and walked everywhere.

Our house was situated at the top of a steep hill, which ran down to Holywell Brook, then climbed up again to Holywell Green, Stainland and Outlane. We had one bus an hour that seemed to stop at the first sign of snow, and only ran the whole length of its journey when the driver was one Ben Garbutt. Ben lived at Stainland so he really made the effort to get the bus through. Sure enough, when it was Ben’s turn to drive, the bus went all the way to Outlane.

Each Sunday, my friends from further down the hill and I climbed up the steep lane by the side of our house to the Chapel at the top, Blackley Baptist. When all the snow had finished falling it froze solid so it was possible to walk on top of the 12 ft high drifts that lined Mucky Lane up to Blackley. This we did, week after freezing week, and what splendid views we had. Switzerland could be no prettier. Stories were told of a man walking along Lindley Moor road on the top of the walls because of the depth of snow, when reaching a gateway he went straight down into a drift.

We may not have been snowbound in the true sense of the word, but it was certainly the largest amount of snow I’ve every seen in England, - or want to really!

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