The recent snow and ice has brought disruption to south Warwickshire, but it is minor compared to the Big Freeze of 50 years ago.
In January 1963 the Courier reported that householders were queuing with buckets in Leamington to collect water from street hydrants after their water supplies froze. There were threats of coal and milk having to be rationed due to transport problems.
Coal was freezing in the wagons and fuel freezing in the tanks of delivery lorries. The coal merchants’ opinion was “We’ve never had it so bad.”
Consumer demand in some cases was three times the normal amount.
The bad frost also affected water supplies. A Leamington waterworks’ distribution spokesman said that hundreds of householders and even some small factories were being supplied from street hydrants.
He said: “The position is snowballing. People are coming out to the hydrants and filling anything and everything, even dustbins.”
Warwickshire firemen had to deliver thousands of gallons of water to 20 frozen-up farms. An appliance was also called to the Leamington railway depot to take water for the engines, as the overhead water tanks were out of action.
A Midland Counties Dairy official told the Courier: “Supplies of milk are being maintained but there are delays in collection. The farmers are helping us tremendously by bringing the milk to the main roads. We are hoping there will not be a need to ration supplies, but if this weather continues it may be difficult.
A spokesman at the area Gas Board headquarters said that if appeals for a cut in gas consuption failed, there might be industrial shutdowns with unemployment. Service personnel were being given afternoon breaks to prevent fatigue.
“We are making the strongest possible request to all users to cut down,” he said.
Sixty workers on gas cooker assembly at Flavels in Leamington walked out after their tea break because they felt the factory was too cold.
Shop steward Mr Jim Hiddlestone said: “The workers were not called out officially. It was spontaneous after they had talked among themselves. I went round with a thermometer and it was between 48 and 50 degrees, which suggests that it was much lower when we started work.”
Transport was badly hit and people were forced to walk to work through deep snow drifts, some journeys taking three hours.
In Southam the fire brigade had to plough through four feet deep drifts to reach a blazing house.
Do you remember the Big Freeze of 1963? Please email email@example.com