If you think it’s been cold recently it’s nothing compared to the terrible winter of 1947. Here former Examiner journalist Mike Shaw recalls those days as a boy ... and how he loved them.
Snow storms were incessant, sub-zero temperatures persisted, all public transport was halted and people were trapped in their homes by drifts up to 20ft deep.
This was the big freeze of February 71 years ago when the Pennine hills around Huddersfield were among the worst victims of a late winter that was one of the worst on record.
All Britain suffered the freezing cold and mountains of snow with fuel shortages adding to the chaos. Industry and even Buckingham Palace struggled to carry on without power in the mornings and afternoons. The English channel was closed to shipping and fishing fleets were confined to port.
As a 14-year-old school boy I remember schools including my own, Royds Hall Grammar, being closed for nearly a week. Trolley buses were at a standstill and many shops ran out of essential supplies.
Living in a hillside cottage on the outskirts of Marsden, daily comings and goings were extremely difficult but not impossible. For instance, my father made it into work in a nearby textile mill without missing a day.
For me and my two elder brothers it turned into a time for fun and games, so long as we were wrapped up against the bitter cold.
The deep snow was frozen hard, enabling us to build an igloo from carved-out blocks in our garden.
Snowball fights with our mates were common, but sledging was the most popular occupation. I recall quite vividly the fascinating experience of sledging beneath the stars before being called in as bedtime neared.
On the square dam, a popular place for angling in summer, we played ice-hockey with improvised sticks and even umbrellas, while a few of the older generation honed their age-old skills on skates at a leisurely pace around the edges of the natural rink.
My eldest brother fashioned a pair of skis out of two pieces of wood. The task took him a couple of days, but there was no need to hurry as the slopes remained covered in frozen snow for weeks.
When the slow thaw did arrive it was almost spring and I recall snow snuggling under the dry stone walls as we entered April.
We in this area were largely immune from floods but our cellar at home was prone to seeping spring water and that gave me an opportunity to don my wellies and sail my model speedboat, not only there but on the now unfrozen waters of the Square Dam.
The boat was a couple of feet long and looked quite impressive. Unfortunately, it had a mind of its own when it came to steering and on several occasions I had to dash home with an SOS for my dad or brother to rescue it from overhanging trees on the waters edge. Needless to say, it made me rather unpopular and the boat was banned from the dam for quite some time.
Eventually everything returned to normal. The trolley buses went back to coming off the wires on a notorious corner, classes at school were their boring selves and the local Co-op was again out of Woodbines and our surreptitious smoking was restricted to the notorious and foul tasting Pashas.
Since then we’ve had a few harsh winters but none stand out in my memory like the big freeze of 1947.