The day the River Humber froze over: Remembering one of Hull's harshest winters
East Yorkshire was gripped by snow and ice two years ago but 1947 remain one of the worst winters in recent memory. Reporter James Campbell looks back ...
THE war had only just come to the end and people were trying to return to normality.
No stranger to hardship, even the toughest of folk struggled to cope with the long, harsh and bitter winter of 1947.
It all began on January 26 when 2in of snow fell in the Wolds villages.
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Down south, the Thames had frozen over and then two and a half inches fell on Hull, sparking 400 men into action to clear the roads.
The cold snap lasted right through until early March.
While all parts of East Yorkshire suffered, the biggest drama was unfolding at Huggate, near Driffield, one of the highest points in the county.
Cottages in the village were completely covered by snow and only the top of telephone masts were visible, such was the depth of the drifts.
Mr W B Megginson told the Mail at the time that his home was surrounded by 20ft drifts.
He said: "I've never seen anything like this before. We are usually left with a clear way across the fields but this time everything is filled up."
As is often the case in such circumstances, community spirit came to the fore.
Local councillor Edward Munby said: "The men folk are doing their bit digging.
"The women are co-operating along the line.
"If one has a little extra of something she passes it on to her neighbour."
In the end, the situation was so bad, food parcels had to be delivered to the village by plane and with the help of mountain rescue teams.
The backdrop to the harsh winter was rationing and a fuel crisis. Coal could not get through to Hull and other cities which proved a double whammy as people struggled to heat their homes in sub-zero temperatures.
On February 2, 1947, a trip to the panto in Leeds turned into a traumatic and frightening night.
Three bus loads of people from Hull, mainly women and children, were stranded in the snow.
A total of 73 people waited for help but eventually had crossed the fields of deep snow to reach North Newbald.
Doris Smith was one of those on the trip.
At the time, she said: "We made ourselves cosy for the night and sang songs before dozing off."
There seemed to be no end to the icy grip.
In Hull, the number of people clearing snow had risen to 1,400 men along with 150 vehicles and 12 snow ploughs.
The cost of keeping the city clear of snow each day reached a staggering £1,500 – the equivalent of about £50,000 in today's money.
Many villages in the Wolds faced days without power, such as Sancton.
On several occasions during the cold snap, nearly 10in of snow fell across the region.
Despite the problems, no schools in Hull closed although attendances were unsurprisingly down.
Black-outs were a common occurrence during this time and power cuts became increasingly common.
The coal shortage became a national emergency and Hull had to use its resources sparingly.
Ships in the Humber had to watch out for pack ice and navigate with extreme caution.
Just as it looked like the worst was over, a huge blizzard struck the country again on February 26.
Four inches fell in Hull and traffic once more ground to a halt.
The Mail even campaigned for the council to use flame throwers to clear the snow.
The winter of 1947 is etched in the memory of Hull City Councillor Terry Geraghty.
He said: "I remember that winter like it was yesterday. It was horrific.
"I lived off Beverley Road and we were totally snowed in.
"The initial snowfall happened so quickly.
"We were just getting over the war when it happened. There was no gas or central heating in our homes so we had to have a bonfire in the living room.
"We ended up burning our shoes and anything we could find just to keep warm and we never took our coats off.
"All the streets were piled up with snow.
"You have to remember, we all had outhouses for toilets and they were all frozen.
"There was a lot of misery and the snow hung around until May/June.
"But everyone just got on with it. No one felt sorry for themselves."
But, as a teenager at the time, it wasn't all doom and gloom.
Mr Geraghty said: "We had snowball fights and had fun sliding down the streets.
"We also played football in the snow at the bomb sites which became our playground."