The Long Winter 1962-3
The introduction by Geoffrey Moorhouse to a Guardian pamphlet with the title The Long Winter 1962-63 (price 6d) says
BY any standard the winter of 1962-3 was one of the hardest Great Britain has ever had. It has been reckoned that in the Midlands, which didnít have the worst of it, there has been nothing comparable since 1740. Even the most conservative estimates for the country as a whole conclude that it was the coldest since 1829-30. It was a winter in which cars were driven across the Thames, pack ice formed a quarter of a mile outside Whitstable Harbour, a family was marooned on a Dartmoor farm for 66 days. It killed at least 49 people. And though its economic effects were not as severe as those of 1946-7, public transport was several times brought to a standstill, and the January power crisis was grave enough to provoke an emergency meeting of the Cabinet. It was a winter to remember.
The winter weather of note started on December 26 1962 and ended its devastation on March 7 1963 when after the first night frost-free across the UK, floods again required evacuations of vulnerable communities. The long winter had lasted eleven weeks.
This photo copied from a Kodachrome slide and taken by my mother shows my father trying to clear the path to the house. About three feet of snow has fallen but the Ford Consul is safely tucked away inside the underground garage. LS was the old registration plate for Selkirkshire. For a similar view (without snow) taken 46 years later in March 2009, see NT4936 : A semi-detached house in High Road, Galashiels.
by Mary Dalgetty Baxter
So, what is the record of this winter on Geograph? It is a surprise to find so few images of ice or snow or floods of this momentous winter. A number of images on Geograph are just dated 1963 or better the month may be indicated, eg March 1963, but very few are more precise than that. What is the surprise that even when the dates are January or February 1963 there are few which give the impression that the winter was in any way exceptional. No doubt because few ventured forth from the comfort of their homes and transport generally was suffering.
In introducing the Geograph Collection of images from this period, I have limited the number of railway engines by Ben Brooksbank which do not show environmental conditions. I am hopeful that there are older folk among us who have slides/prints or negatives that can be processed to make this collection of winter weather more complete.
For my own part, the deepest memory of the winter exists without any of the images I may have taken surviving. From January 11 to 13 I camped on the side of Cairngorm at the site of the car park for the ski-lift and spent 12 January on the Cairngorm plateau, climbing Cairngorm and getting a frost-bitten cheek into the bargain. According to the weather data in the Guardian pamphlet, 12/13 was the coldest January night in Edinburgh and possibly for the whole winter. A few days later the minimum temperature at Braemar was -22.6 C on January 18. Frost indeed!
The Guardian pamphlet is available second hand from a number of sources for around £5.
It can be accessed in full as a PDF from [url= Link]. It is a fascinating account of the period. Enjoy!
If you wish to best appreciate the images, click at the base of the page on images used on this page and choose the Georiver option for obtaining both figure captions and screen-filling images.