Glossop Heritage Trust

The severe winter of 1962-3.

Entries from West End School log book
21 January: I (Headmaster) arrived at 9.55am (by train – all roads closed through blizzards). Mrs Dakin absent, would not make journey from Buxton. 58% attendance only today. Charlesworth & Chisworth pupils worst affected by roads.
Author's Note: A member of Glossop Heritage Trust recalls having to walk to and from Sheffield Road because of the conditions.
23 January: Fuel supplies low and no sign of replenishments.
24 January: Outside toilets now unusable. Condemned by Public Health Department, after inspection. Blessed Philip Howard School now allowing use of their toilets.
25 January: Facts re fuel position and toilets reported to Governors and Divisional Office.
27 January: (Sunday) Fuel delivered to Upper School and Centre.
1 February: During the past week the state of the toilets has improved although snow continues to fall with temperatures at or near freezing.
6 February: School dismissed at 3.40pm (severe blizzard).

The article below is based on reports in the Glossop Chronicle.

Crowden Hills The winter of 1962–1963 was one of the coldest recorded in the UK. Storms and blizzards started at the end of December and it was the beginning of March before the country was free of snow.

In the Glossop area the start of the winter had been fairly normal. The Glossop Chronicle of 21 December 1962 published a photo of the Crowden hills (left), captioned “Bleak but pretty” with just a light dusting of snow and the reservoirs slightly frosted in parts. A week later it was almost spring like at Derbyshire Level (right).

The final day of the year heralded what was to come locally. Gales brought what was termed a “night of terror” to the area around Ashton and Stalybridge. Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused, mainly between 7pm and 7:30pm, with roofs blown off, chimney stacks toppled and large vehicles blown over. Major damage was caused to stands at Stalybridge Celtic and Mossley football clubs. Derbyshire Level

Glossop was still relatively unscathed. Under the headline “Escape for Glossop” the Chronicle reported (4 January) “It is unusual for main roads out of Glossop, such as the Snake Pass, and those from Longdendale, like the Woodhead road, to escape any heavy snow. But when many parts of Britain were hit by blizzards this week, Glossop and Longdendale escaped. Although it was hazardous on the main roads at certain periods they were never really impassable. There is still snow in the streets of Glossop but on seeing pictures of the havoc In the south, townsfolk this week were saying that the town and surrounding area has for once been comparatively fortunate. Strong winds have been the biggest annoyance and chimneys and television aerials blown down.”
Even a week later, despite snow and ice covering the roads of Glossop and Longdendale, compared with other parts of Britain the district had escaped weather extremes. Main roads had been kept clear and there had been little delay for traffic. Side streets suffered more and a few motorists were seen “digging away under car wheels which would not budge” but many car owners simply didn't even take their cars out of the garages. That was possibly partly because of the difficulties in getting cars of that age to start.

Some houses needed repairs to chimney pots, roofs and television aerials, following strong winds, but that was to the advantage of local builders, one of whom was quoted as saying “I have not been so busy in this respect for many years.”.

Woodhead Road from Old Glossop
Ten Foot field
Looking towards Woodhead Road from Old Glossop (above left) presented a fairly normal winter scene and children were sledging as normal on Ten Foot field (below left). However, Glossop's match at Surrey Street was called off again as the snow in the goalmouth was 18 inches deep (right). The club would eventually go 14 weeks without a home game because of the bad weather. In some parts of the area the snow was frozen so hard that it was possible to walk on top of drifts which were several feet deep whilst, in others, it was so soft that one sank knee deep into it. Surrey Street

Temple Street, Padfield Another week on, though, and things changed dramatically. The headline in the Glossop Chronicle of 25 January 1963 was “Worst storm since 1947. Charlesworth cut off as blizzard strikes Glossop. All roads into village blocked.”. Snowdrifts blocked houses (e.g. as in Temple Street, Padfield, left) and cars were buried (right). Buried car

The report went on to say “Memories of 1947 were awakened again throughout Glossop and Longdendale this week when the district was hit by the worst snowstorm for 16 years. Little Charlesworth caught the full blast of the weekend blizzard, and all roads into the village were blocked with drifts which sometimes reached a height of 20 feet. One motorist who tried to break the ice barrier and get to Marple from Glossop on Sunday night was stuck for 90 minutes and five grim-faced men dug out the stranded car. Councillor Bernard Higginbottom said, "We were isolated for about 48 hours with no bus services and only the odd car getting through, but I don’t think people went short of anything." Workpeople could not get to work if they depended on bus services and it was a great relief when the North Western Road Car Company was able to resume the Marple trips. Hadfield was another badly-hit part of the borough with houses in Padfield being covered by snow up to their bedroom windows. Many people were late for work on Monday after Sunday’s blizzard and frost-bitten hands and feet told their own story of people trying to dig their way out of difficulty.”.

One of the worst hit places was Whitfield where snow was blown into great piles and Alderman Doyle, father of Glossop Town Council was “rescued” by visitors from Wood's Hospital - the Matron (Miss Pacey) and a gardener who had to plough through 8ft high drifts to supply Alderman Doyle with food through a window.

It took three hours to dig a couple out of a house in Mottram.
There was considerable drifting on Dinting Road but it was worse in Hadfield (right) with Station Road and Newshaw Lane badly affected. Buses were unable to cope with the conditions on Newshaw Lane and the service “over the top” via Cemetery Road had to be suspended. Funerals due to take place had to be postponed because of high drifts at the cemetery. Council workmen had to clear roads several times because gales blew the snow back over the cleared roads in many places. Hadfield

Woodhead sign Several lorries were stranded on both the Snake and Woodhead roads and motorists became used to seeing signs on Mottram Moor (left) and Glossop High Street (right). Snake sign

The following report appeared in the Chronicle of 1 February: “Snake Pass Blasts. About 400 lb of gelignite was this week used In efforts to blast loose sections of a 300-yard long 10 feet thick snow drift hanging dangerously over the Snake Pass on one of the main roads between Manchester and Sheffield. The road has been closed to traffic for over a week and the return of heavy snow on Wednesday to the Glossop area did not help matters. Viewers on television were able to see on Tuesday night how the explosion moved about 300 tons of snow and huge boulders were flung down on the main road. When the snow scattered over the road 13-ton snow ploughs took over the job of clearing it away. Workmen from a quarry at Eyam spent about five hours in bitterly cold weather drilling nearly 100 holes up to 10 feet deep in the snow so that the explosive charges could be inserted. This is the second time in recent years that the Snake Pass has been threatened by avalanches in snowy weather The pass is 1,680 feet above sea level and the mammoth drifts tower up against the sky to present an awe-inspiring scene.”

The same edition of the paper reported that some homes in Glossop had been without water for nearly three weeks with people having to rely on neighbours or on special taps which had been set up in some parts. Some householders in Charlesworth had had to walk about a quarter of a mile to obtain water.

The bad weather caused controversy in the Council. The Glossop Chronicle of 8th February reported:
Surveyor disputes allegation about snow clearance.
An allegation by Councillor Briody-Duggan made at the Glossop Town Council monthly meeting that the main road in Hadfield was untouched for three days by corporation workmen after recent heavy snowfall was described as just not true by the borough surveyor (Mr E. Allen). Councillor Briody-Duggan's criticism come after a detailed statement by Aldermen Gordon Hurst (Highways Committee chairman) about the steps taken by the borough surveyor's department to clear snow in the district.
Alderman Hurst revealed that up to now over £2,000 had been spent on clearing Glossop's roads.
During the period up January 26th, the temperature at no time exceeded one degree Centigrade. Snow showers occurred on most days up to the 19th with very heavy snow fall with drifting on the 20th. The snowfall and continuous high winds prior to January 20th had already caused considerable drifting and it was necessary to close Redgate on the 18th, because the vehicle snowploughs could no longer clear it. The heavy fall on the 20th was accompanied by very strong east winds, and drifting continued until the afternoon of Monday the 21st. It is a correct statement to say that the drifting which occurred as a result of the snowfall on these two days caused a greater blockage of roads than had occurred since the snowfall of 1947 (January and February).
On the morning of the 21st the following roads were blocked: Dinting Road, Newshaw Lane (lower portion), Higher Dinting, Dinting Lane (upper portion), Lower Dinting, The Ashes and Hilltop Road, Park Crescent (upper portion), North Road, Redgate, Temple Street, Padfield Main Road, Goddard Lane, Albert Street, Hope Street, Hague Street, Cliffe Road, Crosscliffe, Lower Bank. A total length of approximately 5.8 miles.
To tackle the clearance of the snow a tractor shovel was hired on the 20th and a large bulldozer on the morning of the 21st. In addition ten temporary men were taken on. The problem of clearance is made more difficult because a number of roads are so narrow that it is impossible to use mechanical plant in them; they therefore have to be opened by hand.
The blocked roads were cleared as follows:-
By vehicle plough and hand labour: Newshaw Lane on the 21st; Higher Dinting on the 25th.
By bulldozer: Dinting Road on the 21st; Albert Street and Padfield Main Road (between Post Street and Brosscroft) on the 22nd; Padfield Main Road (Post Street to Top House) and Temple Street on the 23rd; Redgate and Park Road on the 24th; North Road on the 26th; Padfield Main Road to Woodhead Road on the 27th.
By tractor shovel: Hope Street; Hague Street; Kidd Road and part of Derbyshire Level on the 22nd; Heath Road and Kingsmoor Fields on the 23rd; Cliffe Road on the 25th; Crosscliffe, Lower Bank and Park Crescent on the 26th.
A section of Cliffe Road was cleared by manual labour. The lower portion of Crosscliffe was cleared by the inhabitants and the clearing of Park Crescent was completed by vehicle plough and hand labour.
Roads cleared by manual labour: Ashes Road on the 21st; Hilltop Road on the 24th; Goddard Lane on the 25th; Lower Dinting and Dinting Lane on the 26thj; Leantown and Roughfields on the 28th; Little Padfield on the 29th.
The estimated total cost during the present financial year for snow clearance and gritting is £2,100. Alderman Hurst said materials had cost £640, labour £950, transport £210 and hired plant £300. He added that the snow in 1947 had cost £2,331 to clear. Alderman Hurst claimed “To liberate so many roads so soon was a very satisfactory job” - (Hear, hear). He admitted that there were grumbles about various parts but said “We all grouse in this weather”. He spoke about the corporation's “emergency” plan to deal with such a situation and promised that any disappointment that a particular area had not been cleared as quickly as some people had hoped would be remedied in the future, of this was at all possible.
Councillor Briody-Duggan said “I am afraid that Station Road at Hadfield was an absolute disgrace for the first three days – you could not move”. He spoke about two feet of snow blocking the shop area and went on “In Padfield, children were unable to go to school”. He had also received complaints about the Gamesley area and he felt that after the roads to the hospitals had been cleared, Hadfield's main road should have had priority. “But I am afraid Hadfield is always last” he stated.
Alderman Higton presented another side to the picture and complimented the borough surveyor and his staff on the way they tackled a difficult position. He spoke of the cost to the council and reminded his colleagues that it had been suggested that a council which was stretched to the limit through the cost of snow shifting could apply to the Government for assistance. The council would have to decide about this but in the past when similar situations had arisen Glossop had always ridden the storm.
Replying, Alderman Hurst assured Councillor Briody-Duggan that if the corporation knew of any “pockets” in the district which were snowed-up they would watch these places in particular.
“The information which Councillor Briody-Duggan brought forward is simply not true” – said the surveyor. “Hadfield gets priority” he went on. He said that the workmen dealt with Station Road after the hospitals, Dinting Road and Newshaw Lane. Hadfield and Padfield presented an additional problem because of their exposed position but he claimed that the bulk of the Corporation's snow clearing plant had been in that area. “It is not true that station Road was not visited for three days because I got through and vehicles were parked on either side of the road. But it is impossible to ensure complete clearance when there are so many roads to deal with.”.

The report of the council meeting was the last of any significant size dealing with the winter. Whilst it was the worst since 1947, there was no report of the February blizzards experienced elsewhere in the country affecting Glossop. More pressing news, such as the threat of closure of Glossop railway station and the forthcoming local and national elections started to dominate.

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