Friday, 22 February 2013

Snowstorms in 1900

With snow still lying on the moors and in the hedge-backs, and flakes of snow in the wind today, I thought now would be a good time to post this – which I found quite by accident yesterday.

In the first half of February 1900, Britain was hit by severe snowstorms causing great disruption for days. 

On Friday 16 February, the Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough had the headlines:

An Unparalleled Storm of Wind and Snow

On Saturday 17 February, the report began:

Further Stories of Adventure and Suffering
Trains Fast in Snowdrifts
One effect of the snowstorm is found in the delay to which news for Middlesbrough is being subjected.  All telegrams are being sent by train.  This accounts for the fact that the news of the relief of Kimberley, which was handed in in London yesterday morning to be sent over the wires in the usual way, has only been received by us to-day.  We are in the appalling position, that, with the exception of a telegraph wire to West Hartlepool, there exists no other communication with anywhere, either by telephone or telegraph.  We have been besieged by the elements, and are almost as completely isolated from the outside world as Ladysmith at the present time, or Kimberley until yesterday.

Public clocks in Middlesbrough had stopped, because snow was lodged behind the pointers – there were distressing reports of deaths from exposure across the country – a 38 year old farmer from Stanhope, Emerson Atkinson, died on Bollihope Moor in County Durham, when he went out with hay for his sheep – railway passengers had to spend the whole night in the train stuck near Staintondale on the Whitby to Scarborough line – the train due into Richmond at 5.45pm was firmly embedded in a huge drift near Catterick – quarrymen dug out a train near Hawes – a platelayer was killed trying to keep the line clear between Kirkby Stephen and Barnard Castle on the Merrygill viaduct – and just outside Hutton Rudby:
Funeral Cortege Snowed Up 
As the funeral cortege with the remains of Mrs Sidgwick, of Eaglescliffe, was proceeding to Hutton Rudby on Thursday it was caught in the full fury of the storm. 
The coaches struggled on through the increasing drifts of snow, and when about a mile from their destination the horses and drivers were almost exhausted.  The drifts were about a yard deep, and two of the coaches became embedded in the snow.  The occupants found themselves in a serious plight.  
The gentlemen got out and went in search of help.  This was obtained from Mrs Garbutt, of Hutton Grange, who immediately sent men and horses to rescue the rest of the party.  Great praise is due to Mrs Garbutt and her family the kindly way in which they rendered every assistance to the exhausted ladies, for certainly if the party had had to proceed to Hutton Rudby they must have perished in the storm.  Mrs Garbutt made them as comfortable as possible, and they were able to leave yesterday at noon, after a gang of men had cut a road through the drifts.  
The carriages are embedded in six feet of snow, and attempts were made to dig them out yesterday.  
Mr Smith, of the Wheat Sheaf Hotel, attended to the wants of the gentlemen of the party.
A reminder of how much harder life used to be ...

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