THE WINTER OF 1963 ON DARTMOOR.
This blog was actually supposed to be about one of my favourite pubs the "Warren Inn" nrPostbridge, which is deep on Dartmoor.In summer this pub enjoys fabulous panoramic views of the surrounding moorland, and has loads of outdoor wooden benches and tables, from which to admire these stunning views. Inside the Inn, there are two large open fires , one of these has reputedly not been allowed to go out in over a hundred years. Inside is warm, cosy, and the friendly/courteous barstaff attend your every want. Perhaps I might point out here, that I have no connection either monetary or other wise to this establishment.The Ales (some real) are kept well and the food (a lot is home made) is of very good quality and we can fully recommend it. The Inn itself, was cut off up here in 63-64 for around 8-9 weeks because of the huge amounts of snow. The very first time I ever visited the pub was around 1981-2, behind the bar, and all around the walls were pictures of this Inn and surrounding moor during the huge snows, one which showed the only connection with the outside world via the (yellow) air sea rescue helicopter , which was then based in North Devon at Chivenor.From these pictures the owners had made postcards. I actually bought a set of these pictures in their postcards form, these were to be the basis of this blog, unfortunately although I've searched high and low I'm unable to find them. So these photo's are borrowed and the blog is now, as you see it and hopefully still readable. This photo below was taken by Peter Thornhill of Buckfastleigh and shows the frozen over river Dart. This striking image in colour (below) shows the snow here at around 5 to 6 feet deep, judge this by looking at the road sign, in lots of parts of Dartmoor in January (1964) 25 feet drifts were measured
The picture below was taken by a Ken Knott of Exeter who said himself and friends went up onto Dartmoor for the day and built this igloo.
Above, an Eskimo NO, ....this is NOT even the Artic!!! its dear old Devon in that same cold winter, but its not all doom and gloom as these photo's show, some people always finds something good to do no matter what the weather!.
Only 11 miles to Honiton, (check the sign) its a bloody long walk though.Its a shame about the quality of these pics but they are 45 years old!!!.
Below, an awful lot of trains did not reach their destinations, in fact hundreds were cancelled and a few unlucky souls stranded aboard others, fortunately casualties were low on the trains, unlike thousands of livestock that I'm afraid perished that winter.
in the winter of 1963-4 , January was the coldest in Devon since 1814, and nationally has been described as the worst winter since records began (around 1700) that is according to the BBC weather centre. The weather in remote area's such as Dartmoor in the South West were very very seriously hit. This winter was nationaly known as the big freeze, due to its extremes of cold, snow etc. Not only Devon was hit, most of the country ground to a halt, although interestingly enough Scotland was nowhere nearly as badly hit and they suffered only an average winter!!. The weathermen tell us that winters such as this one only come roughly every 250 years (thank goodness) !!. I was but a teenager back in 63-4 so, although I do remember bits of it, mainly from a fun point of view, (we did a lot of sledging ourselves), I was courting (engaged) at the time and worked about 10 or 11 miles away from home. In the factory where we worked, the management supplied coaches picking up us workers and transporting us to work. If I wanted to see Sue during the week I had to either get the coach to work, then after work walk the 2 miles to her house, then walk the 13-14 miles home after seeing her, or bicycle to work, then from work bike to her house, after being kicked out at 10.30 at night bike home.You can imagine the state of the roads in that winter, for walking, biking or the motor vehicle. One night after visiting Sue ( ladies darts) in the local pub in Great Alne (near Alcester) my friend Chris and I were making our way home in the deep snow (on our bikes), pushing most of the time, we reached a part in the small road that was a complete "U" bend in the road. Chris and I at this point parked our bikes and started rolling snow balls, we rolled 8 or 9 of them until they were as tall as us, then pushed them all across the road packing them together with snow , forming a barrier across the road, we then went on our way. In the morning our Works transport picked us up and gingerly picked its way through the snow until rounding a bend and coming....face to face with....our roadblock, oops despite pushing the snow blockade with the coach, overnight it had frozen solid and was totally immovable, so for three days until it thawed we did a four mile detour on our way to work, with us finding it difficult to keep straight faces.