In the winter of 1963 we suffered the worst winter weather for many years.
Snow started falling on Boxing Day 1962, and snow covered the ground for over two months or more.
I was 15 when the coldest winter occurred.
We still rode to school on our bikes, on icy roads and still carried out duties as paperboys, delivering the newspapers.
The roads were icy and some lads, due to the great reduction in traffic at the time, made slides on the actual roads!
It was the practice in our family that my stepmother’s uncle (Uncle Steve) would visit us for lunch and tea on Boxing Day each year.
This was the case in Christmas 1962, when, in the afternoon I remember, snow started to fall.
No one really thought that the snow would still be with us in over two months’ time!
I think that Uncle Steve caught the earlier bus home (yes, buses ran on Boxing Day then), and back to Southampton.
From my scant memory, the snow just kept on falling, although it did not stop my dad and I visiting London by train in early January 1963, to visit the London Boat Show at Earls Court. It was our first visit, for me to indulge my growing interest in motor boats.
How I did my paper round in deep snow in 1963
The roads were not salted then, but gritted, with fine grit I think.
Certainly the snow just built up, and compacted, making travel a slippery and risky business.
I still rode my bike to Mac’s newsagents to collect my newspapers for my delivery round, although it no doubt took longer, due to the slower speed one had to ride at.
I remember that, heading down Hursley Road, just before Common Road turning, other lads had made a ‘slide’ on the actual road, using the slight slope down towards Common Road (by the post box).
This was great for sliding on, but to be avoided on a bike!
I seem to remember cars sliding on it too!
The council sent workmen to dig away the ice and make the road safe, but as the snow continued to fall, the slide was quickly reinstated.
I remember one evening I had to deliver two paper rounds, as another paperboy was away. The lad normally delivered from the bottom of Hursley Road up to where my round started at the present day entrance to South Millers Dale opposite Valley Road.
It was deep snow and I remember the street lights shining across the green near the end of Brownhill Road (funny how one remembers odd scenes from long ago!).
I must have spent two hours or more delivering to all the homes on Hursley Road, but would have been rewarded financially!
I cannot remember much about how the snow, which was very deep in places, affected our school, only that I and others must have travelled by bike as usual.
There must have been frequent snow ball fights, but probably not too many at school, as this would have been frowned on, with predictable results!
By this time I and others in my ‘year’ would have been more concerned about forthcoming exams and trying to study enough to stand a chance of getting a reasonable result.
The joy of having No homework
I do remember that I hardly ever took homework home to do!
We had sufficient free periods in school when most of us did our homework, thus leaving one’s home time free, as I at least thought it should be!
The free periods were when others took subjects I (and others) did not take, hence we were able to use an empty classroom to study and write up our ‘homework’.
I do remember going on some Cycling Club rides during the snowy weather then.
Cycling in snowy weather
One such ride I remember was when a group of maybe 6 or 8 of us rode up to Stonehenge, incredibly! The feature I remember was that there was no traffic, and we rode on what is now the A303 between high walls of snow, over head height, near Stonehenge!
We must have got home late in the evening, but we were not going to let snow stop us riding our bikes to where we wanted to go !
On the roads, traffic was much less than now of course, but the cars were different too! Most were rear wheel drive (only the Mini – introduced in 1957 had front wheel drive), and there were countless incidents where cars slid across the road, and hit others or lamp posts.
Certainly no one was in such a rush as nowadays, but there must have been many accidents on icy roads.
I think that the snow, which had been relentlessly falling for many weeks, seemed to stop in early March.
More to come, but my story of growing up in Chandler’s Ford is reaching its end, as I was approaching my 16th birthday.
Do you remember the 1963 winter? Share your memories with us. If you like this post, don’t forget to share it with your friends and leave a comment.
What’s next: Breaking free from North End School
Note: Don’t miss Martin Napier’s article series: Part 8, on Monday 3rd August 2015.
- Hazel Bateman: An Interactive Local History Talk by Martin Napier
- Andy Vining: Farming in the Winter and Christmas at Hiltonbury Farm
Article Series by Martin Napier
- Part 1: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s
- Part 2: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Paper Boy; North End School
- Part 3: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s Bonfire Night
- Part 4: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: North End School
- Part 5: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bicycle, Bicycle!
- Part 6: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: A Summer of Hope and Sorrow
- Part 7: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: The Big Freeze in 1963
- Part 8: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Breaking Free from North End School
- Part 9: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: My Passions with Bikes and Boats
- Part 10: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bikes, Boats, and Adventures
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