Glossop Heritage Trust

The severe winter of 1940.


It is common for roads like the Snake and Woodhead to be closed because of the winter snows. In years gone by, though, Glossop itself has suffered some dramatic drifting. The photos below show just a few scenes from January 1940 and, at the foot of the page, are reports from the Glossop Chronicle.

Entries from West End School log book
19 January: The extremely cold weather of the past week, and two falls of snow, has reduced the average attendance to 82%.
26 January: The average attendance has again been reduced by the extremely severe weather, being as low as 77%.
31 January: A blizzard has raged over Glossop during the weekend, and when school opened on Monday morning, there were 11 pupils present, so school closed for the day. Yesterday morning, the number of pupils was the same, and school closed again for the day. Instructions have now been received to close school till the morning of Wednesday February 6th next.

In his 1994 book, A Very Special School, Jack Holden recalled:
Many years later Mr. Lord spoke of "the sense of heroic endeavour" when he and Mr. Holt found a way through 10 foot drifts in Sheffield Road to arrive at school by 9 a.m, and the "pricking of the bubble of self-esteem" on finding that some pupils, many by long cross-country routes and through far deeper drifts, had arrived at the usual opening time of 8.40 a.m.


The greenhouse at Moorfield House
Derbyshire Level
The greenhouse at Moorfield House Derbyshire Level
Hurst Mill
Sheffield Road
Hurst Mill Sheffield Road
Manor Park Road
High Street East
Manor Park Road High Street East
Ellison Street
Norfolk Street
Ellison Street Norfolk Street
Hague Street
North Road
Hague Street North Road


Glossop Chronicle 26 January
Many Burst Pipes at Glossop
Big Freeze-Up of 50 Years Ago Recalled
The severity of the weather at the week-end in Glossop recalled for older people the great freeze-up of nearly half a Century ago when the district was in the grip of the severest frost within living memory and which lasted sixteen weeks. The mercury at the week-end dropped to a level not far above the depth touched In those far off days.
Flooded By Bursts.
Scores of houses, as well as some public buildings, in the borough were flooded by burst water pipes this Saturday and Sunday. Many people were unable to light their kitchen fires, because the hot water system had frozen up. Almost every other house had the cold water supply stopped. At Gamesley Isolation Hospital three of the radiators burst and the staff had to work with plumbers in making temporary arrangements for the warmth and protection of the patients.
Bus Radiators Frozen Up.
The pipes, etc., at the bus shed of the North Western Road Car Co., in Sheffield-road, were frozen, radiators in buses burst and the repair and maintenance staff experienced a most exciting time on Sunday trying to maintain the various bus services. At Glossop railway station there has been no water for the engines from Wednesday of last week, and even the big tank has been frozen up. Plumbers have been at work almost night and day trying to restore water supplies to affected houses and buildings. Spring water wells at farms were frozen and picks have had to be used to break the ice.

Glossop Chronicle 2 February 1940
SNOWBOUND – Glossop and District Had Arctic Week-end
Memorable Scenes and Incidents in Worst Storm for 46 Years
Few places can have suffered more severely in Britain's arctic week-end than did Glossop and neighbouring villages. Weather conditions, the like of which have not been seen for many years, have been experienced. The story is one of blocked-up roads and railway lines, of hamlets isolated, of closed schools and churches, and of the gallant efforts of doctors, and milkmen, and tradespeople to make the journeys which their services to the public required. It is indeed open to question whether the blizzard, which started on Saturday and continued with increasing fury until Monday afternoon was not as bad as the one of some forty-six years ago, when snowdrifts reached the top of the telegraph poles on the Snake road and over the Woodhead road via Saltersbrook into Yorkshire. Then people were imprisoned in their houses for several days, snow being driven in deep drifts to the height of bedroom windows, and the great freeze-up lasted 13 weeks.
Snow started to fall on Friday and the fall must have been exceptionally heavy during Friday night, and when people awoke early on the Saturday morning they were amazed to find, drifts several feet deep, and the snow still falling. Towards noon, a terrific wind lashed the snow wildly about the streets, and people were almost blinded. Early In the day, roads from Hayfield, Sheffield and Woodhead became impassable to vehicular traffic, and that from the Manchester area was seriously affected. From the shelter of their houses families on Sunday morning grazed out on a scene, of wintry desolation. Icicles hung in profusion from heavily-frosted windows, while the wind still swept fiercely along the streets, driving the snow into huge drifts in exposed places, filling gardens up to the railings and blocking up doorways.
SNOW PLOUGH AT WORK.
Both men and women set to work to clear paths from their doorways but almost as soon as they had cleared away the snow the wind drove it back again. The snow plough was in use and a number of bemuffled and overcoated men were busily employed with their spades in assisting to get a fairly clear passage for vehicular and pedestrian traffic through the streets and no one envied them their task in the benumbing icy blasts for no sooner had they shifted some of the snow than much of it was swirled back. In Glossop on Monday morning, a woman and two men were seen in the main street doing their shopping on skis.
MILKMEN SNOWED UP.
Doctors trudged on foot through the snow to visit patients who were seriously ill and several of them said they would not turn out again except for serious cases. One or two milkmen with their floats struggled bravely along, and stories soon came to hand of others who were snowed up and unable to undertake their full rounds. Monday's milk delivery was even worse and no newspapers could be obtained in the town on Monday, neither morning nor evening. On Monday, Mr Bennett, of Pikes Farm, left his float at home and had his big cans slung over his horse's back. Many local soldiers had an extended leave and many telegrams went from the Glossop post office informing their C.O.s of the circumstances. One, a man named Kelly, of Huddersfield, who has a wife and two children was due back at the barracks of a neighbouring town on Monday and he set off to walk. At Melandra he collapsed and was seriously ill. It was not possible to take him to Wood's Hospital. Ambulances not being able to get through, and he was taken to the First-Aid Party Depot at Dinting.
MOTOR CAR BURIED.
In Hope-street, Old Glossop, snow was piled up to the bedroom windows of some houses, and in the Old Glossop and Whitfield areas, many homes were in darkness and the inhabitants unable to leave them because the snow had blocked up all doorways and th down and upstairs windows. Manor Park-road was well nigh impassable on Monday, for here drifts ten feet high were encountered at several parts of the road. In front of the Manor Park gates, the drift was the height of the wall for about 80 yards and nearer Old Glossop some houses on this road wore almost hidden from view, drifts about ten feet high being formed at the front and rear. One Higher Dinting resident told a “Chronicle and Advertiser reporter” of the great difficulty he had had in making his way from his home down to the town on business and he stated that in the locality from whence he came a motor car was embedded up to the roof in the snow. Other vehicles in outlying parts were reported as being brought to a standstill and embedded in the drifts. In Whitfield, Kidd-road and Chunal presented an unbroken sheet of white, all the walls of the fields being covered so there was nothing to indicate which were roads and which were fields. The inhabitants of these outlying parts were cut off from supplies for a few days. From these upland and exposed places only the strongest could face the ordeal of the deep snow, icy blasts of wind and swirling flakes, to reach the centre of the town. At some places of worship no services were held on Sunday. The storm continued with unabated force throughout the day, and added to the colossal drifts which had formed In the streets and the highways.
SCHOOLS CLOSED.
The more hardy scholars attended for school on Monday, but they were sent back home, not a school in the borough being opened. In some cases entrance could not be gained to the building. Workpeople were sent home from Woods, and Sumners closed early to allow their work hands to get home before dark. There was not an office—even the Municipal Buildings were not immune—or a shop hardly which could report a full staff on Monday.
FUNERALS POSTPONED
Funerals fixed for Saturday at Glossop Cemetery and Charlesworth Independent Chapel burial ground were postponed and had to be again postponed on Monday. The staff could not reach the cemetery by the road on Monday, but had to .climb over hedges and ditches via the Heath Fields. Wimberry Hill was closes and Mr. Harry Dane, Glossop's Sanitary Inspector could not get to the office by Wimberry Hill and he also had to take to the fields.
SANDHOLE BROOK STOPPED.
Never before has the Sandhole Brook had Its flow stopped, but on Monday it was frozen over. There have been unprecedented scenes in Simmondley and Padfield where immense drifts have cut out the inhabitants of many houses from the outside world. It has been extremely difficult to get supplies to quite a number of homes and some have not received any food into the houses since Saturday.
HE WAS SAFE.
Fears that a man named Hobson, who for some years has been living alone in a wooden hut or shack below High Bank, Kidd-road. Whitfield, Glossop, was trapped in the hut by the storm caused a number of civilians to begin rescue operations. After a good deal or digging they broke into the hut and found it full of snow. Information was received at Glossop Police Station, and Sergeant Birt and Constable Williamson at once set out for the site of the hut. The journey took them 2½ hours, but no sign of Hobson could be found, and it was decided that if the man was indeed burled beneath the snow he would be dead. Later Inspector Amos, of the Glossop Borough Police Force, visited Whitfield district and in Charlestown found the man Hobson earning coppers by drawing and carrying water to homes in the Charlestown area.
COAL HELD UP.
Coal supplies are completely held up as far as Glossop and district is concerned, and many homes have exhausted what coal they had in stock. No coal for the north is being carried on the railways and we understand that none is likely to come through to Glossop for some days. What little there is in the coal yard and on the sidings at the station cannot he got at, and will not anywhere near meet the needs of the townspeople.
TRAINS BURIED.
Conditions on the railway between Hadfield and Woodhead were the worst within living memory. Up the valley one passenger and five mineral trains were buried and several hundred soldiers were brought from the barracks of a neighbouring town to help to dig them out. The first train to run into the drifts was a passenger train going up to Sheffield on Saturday night and passengers had to walk back to Hadfield. Not a train left or came to Glossop on Sunday and Monday. Almost a normal service was operated on Monday from Hadfield to Dinting and thence to Guide Bridge where passengers had to change for Manchester.
FEW BUS SERVICES.
Only two buses left Norfolk Square on Monday and these not until five o'clock in the afternoon. General manager of the North Western Road Car Co., Mr Womar, and his instructions were that the buses should complete their journeys, come back to the square and not turn out again. The journeys were to Hadfield and Mottram from where there was almost a normal service to Hyde. Bus services were discontinued before 9 o'clock on Saturday night and many people had to walk home from Mottram, Hadfield, Tintwistle and other places.
CHARLESWORTH ISOLATED
Charlesworth was isolated from all other districts for vehicular traffic and the shortage of coal, bread and meat made the situation extremely serious. Bakers could not bake because of fuel shortage and the Co-operative Society had men taking loaves up in sacks. The local greengrocer was delivering what goods he could on foot. Chisworth is also shut off and drifts many feet high were on the Marple-road. On Sunday night not a single customer was at the Commercial Hotel. A path wide enough for a couple of people walking abreast had been cut on Tuesday from Gamesley Bridge to Hargate Hill-lane and then on to Charlesworth. The people were walking on the top of the snow and looking down on the hedges and walls. It was the same story down Long-lane to Broadbottom with the exception that here it was up and down like the velvet coaster. Not a farmer from Charlesworth reached Broadbottom until Tuesday, and then they took their supplies by hand “sledge”.
MOTTRAM & BROADBOTTOM
Conditions in Mottram and Broadbottom were better on the Derbyshire side. Council workmen were out all weekend and a big three-horse plough kept the roads clear and salt was used extensively. As fast almost as they were cleared the wind blocked them at certain points. For the first time in living memory there was no evensong at Mottram Parish Church on Sunday. Though depleted in numbers, schools at Mottram and Broadbottom opened for normal hours. Houses on The Mudd at Mottram were completely cut off from the outside world. No milk or food could be delivered to them. No buses have been down to Broadbottom which had no papers on Sunday but received their supply on Monday. There were a few buses between Mottram and Hyde on Sunday, but the following day almost a normal service was running. On Tuesday a bus from Hyde got stuck at the Four-Lane Ends and it was after 8 a.m. Before it reached Mottram. There has been no service through to Stalybridge but on Tuesday buses were getting as far as the Waggon and Horses on the other side of the Cutting. Bread was at a premium in Broadbottom and many houses were without coal.
ALARM ABOUT GIRLS
On Saturday a party of young girls went to Glossop dancing and were in time to catch what should have been the 10-10 train from Glossop. It was hours late and it was 3 a.m. before it reached Broadbottom, and several parents were searching, thinking they may have been lost.
AT HOLLINGWORTH.
Hollingworth experienced a good share of the snowstorm which swept over the district last week-end, and many of the streets were almost impassable. On Sunday a snowplough was got to work in order to clear the main street, and on Monday these efforts were augmented by a number of men equipped with spades etc. As a result of these efforts the streets were made fairly passable Tuesday. A motor car was buried in Chunal and one man found himself walking over it, and a couple were buried in Dinting-road.
POSTPONEMENTS.
Fixed for Tuesday morning at Charlesworth a public enquiry into the District Council's application to borrow for Charlesworth and Chisworth water scheme over £2,000 was postponed, and the big dance at the Victoria Hall, Glossop, on Tuesday night was also postponed as was an inquest at Glossop on Mr Samuel Shorrock, of Simmondley-lane. Glossop Council Watch Committee meeting fixed for Monday was cancelled. The annual meeting of the Glossop borough justices fixed for Monday was cancelled. Also cancelled was a meeting of representatives of the Town Council with the general manager of the North Western Road Car Co., Mr Womar, about bus services in the borough. Another event to be postponed is a bazaar at Charlesworth Parish Church on Saturday and a similar event at Whitfield School has also been put off.
SURPRISING BUT PLEASING
One of the surprises, but a pleasing one, was that the telephones remained in god order and, although there was some slight delay, it was because there was such a heavy demand for calls. In the borough on Monday morning there was only one motor vehicle, a milk van, and the owner moved only yards at a time, after digging his way.
WOODHEAD ISOLATED.
Position of people at Woodhead and Crowden is growing alarmingly serious. No milk supplies have gone up there since Saturday, and Councillor Mrs. Bagshaw, of the George and Dragon, has not had a visitor since Friday. Her son, Mr. E. Bagshaw, who is an A.R.P. warden at Tintwistle, was kept down In the village until Tuesday when it took him nine hours to get up to Woodhead and back again to Tintwistle. Mr. Howard Greaves, a watchman at Crowden, couldn't got down to Tintwistle until Tuesday morning, and a relative struggled up with some food for him. Two men managed to reach Tintwistle on Tuesday to take commercial supplies back to their neighbours and another one came down from Long row, Crowden, on Wednesday morning. The Manchester Corporation managed to get a way up to Crowden by their electric railway on Tuesday. On Wednesday the road had been cleared as far as Hollins Poultry Farm, but the men were ordered to cease work there on Wednesday morning so high was the blizzard. It was hoped to resume operations later in the day. No news has been received of Woodhead proper—the old Angel Inn—but it is thought vehicles are stranded there. Mr. Doxon, the Woodhead postman, made his first attempt to deliver the letters up there on Tuesday. On Wednesday he got still further by getting on an engine from Crowden to Woodhead and coming down to Hadfield by another train. He did not reach the George and Dragon, Sagers or the Angel.
ALDERMAN'S NEW EXIT.
Alderman Doyle, who lives at Uplands Cottage, above Hague-street, had to get out of his back window. He was unable to plough through Hague-street proper, where the scene almost passed description, but managed to scramble down the fields to Charlestown.

Glossop Chronicle 9 February 1940
Shortage of Coal, Potatoes and Fresh Meat
Glossop and Longdendale Still Suffering Effects of Great Storm
Glossop and Longdendale suffered as much as any place in last week's storm. It is still suffering keenly from shortages of various household necessities caused by the storm. Even on Monday farmers were still delivering their milk with the aid of horse-drawn sledges. Most seriously affected was the supply of coal. A way was cleared on the railway line to Sheffield, and this allowed some coal trains to come through on Sunday, but all through Glossop and Longdendale the coal shortage continued and conditions now are far removed from normal.
Bed For Warmth. Hundreds of homes in the area were without coal before, and at the weekend to secure some alleviation of the hardship families where possible, and particularly children, stayed in bed for warmth. The Glossop and District Co-operative Society, the largest suppliers in the area, were 5,000 cwt. bags behind in their deliveries at the week-end, and in cases where bags were “owed” to the customer, further order was not taken. Their grocery shop managers and coal merchants generally have had a harassing time with customers “I have never bad such a time In my life,” said one, “and I felt like chucking the job up.”
Mills Closed.
Several of the mills in the area are closed because of the coal shortage. and most of them are working dangerously near the end or their stocks.
Ration of One Bag.
Some coal arrived on Sunday, but well-stocked or even moderately-stocked coal-places were passed by the coalmen, who have been at their wits end, so that more needy households could have the ration of one bag, which was increased to two later in the week. The same tale applies to all the districts in the area, and people were burning all sorts of junk, besides pieces of furniture, to produce a fire. A train of coke wagons also arrived on Sunday. Many people were of the opinion that some action could have been taken by local fuel overseers to commandeer some of the railway coal at Dinting for household purposes.
Potato Shortage.
There has also been a great potato shortage which has closed some chip shops, and forced the proprietors of others to make potato cakes instead of chips, “to make the potatoes go further” as one proprietor put it. A queue half-way round the Market Hall, on Friday, led to one stall which could boast of a supply of “spuds,” and when word was passed from house to house that so-and-so had some potatoes there was a general rush to the particular shop.
No Home-Killed.
The third serious shortage In the area was of fresh meat. Supplies to the area at the week-end consisted of imported meat. Many people who had perforce to sample imported lamb earlier in the week found it not too bad, but when supplies were exhausted there seemed a general dislike to the idea or imported beef, and there a rush for rabbits, many being exhibited for sale in the area. People concerned with the distribution of coal, potatoes, and meat are far from confident that the position will be much improved this week-end, and, as a matter of fact, the opinion in most quarters connected with the coal trade appears to be that there will have to be a big improvement in the weather for a long period before the supplies con be straightened out.
Butchers’ Shops Closed.
All butchers' shops in Glossop and Hadfield closed on Tuesday until Friday morning because of the meat shortage. Shops in Longdendale were open in that period.
An incident not without its humorous side has occurred at Broadbottom during the week. A woman was told that she could “sweep up” in a coal merchant a portion at the coal sidings and without coal, she gratefully accepted the permission. She told a neighbour and the news spread through the village and people were hurrying to the sidings with coal bucket and sacks. They “swept up” the portion for which the permission was given and there was encroachment to another arch of the coal sidings with a result that several tons of the supply belonging to a local mill, closed for coal shortage, disappeared. Supplies In the area came through easier at Glossop, Hadfield and Broadbottom stations on Wednesday, and a railway official said that on Sunday thousands of wagons passed through the Mottram clearing yards but most of them were marked Government priority.
Coal Merchant’s “Propaganda.”
A coal merchant confessed to our representative that he had chopped up a couple of tables to make a good fire. He described it as propaganda saying “It looks bad when customers interview you and there is not a bright fire.”
“There Will Be a Fire.”
The coal shortage has been responsible for not a few amusing Incidents. Members of the Whitfield Workingmen's Club, who held their annual meeting last weekend, showed enterprise and thus attracted some who might otherwise have stayed away. In the club there was a notice to the effect, “There will be a Fire,” and this was made possible by members bringing coal and wood, and the cheerful fire which was soon in evidence, added to the comfort and amenities of the evening. At the Gun Inn Friendly Collecting Society’s annual meeting at Hollingworth, on Saturday evening, the secretary brought coal and wood for a fire, as he feared there might be a shortage of fuel.
"Mopping-Up"
Clearing the Roads
Up to the time of going to press, motor lorries were still running to the nearest point of the Glossop Brook or the Etherow to tip their loads of snow taken from the streets of the area. With the thaw, the plumbers have been called on more than ever and, like coal merchants and butchers, are at their wits' end.
Very Few Complaints.
The men employed in clearing the snow have worked splendidly, and the first buses to Old Glossop went along Manor Park-road on Tuesday. Mr. G. Faulds, the Glossop Borough Surveyor, said the public had fully realised the tremendous task in front of his staff and workmen and there had been very few complaints. In a chat with a “Chronicle And Advertiser” reporter on Tuesday, Mr. S Fletcher J.P., C.C., former borough treasurer of Glossop, said he thought the snow storm of December 8th. 1882 was a bit worse than the one recently experienced. Mr. Fletcher was booking clerk at Dinting Station when the 1882 storm happened, and he said it took a train eight hours to cover the mile from Dinting to Hadfield.
Donkey’s Serenade—New Version.
During last week one saw many methods of transport in Glossop— methods which have not been employed for long years and one of those was a sledge drawn by a tiny donkey. The patient little beast stood near the Co-operative Stores in Manor Park-road while its owner loaded the sledge with commodities and the donkey was quickly the centre of a group of youngsters. It was a novelty to most of them and if the children did not exactly serenade the donkey they gathered round it and a few of the more venturesome ones, patted the wee animal which took this unusual display of interest with the customary stolidity of its tribe.
Glass Houses Collapse.
Mr. Warwick, of Moorfield. sustained considerable loss by the collapse of an extensive range of glass houses, which gave way under the heavy weight of snow.

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Page last updated: 7 June 2017.