The Winter of 1947

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blog 1947

The recent cold snap brings back memories of a ‘real winter’, 1947. Snow underlain with icelay hard from just after Christmas to almost Easter. But of course we were kids than and it was great! 

1947

1947 was the best or worst winter possible depending if you were a child or a grown up. The snow lay thick on the ground from just after Christmas until well into March. It was underlain by two to three inches of solid ice, which never shifted for the whole three months. The German and Italian prisoners were still incarcerated in the camps down Black Road and they could be seen daily breaking up the blocks of ice on Cross Green Lane and piling them at the side of the road where it lay in a blackened state until Easter. Many of the cars and buses, which had managed to keep on running, were fitted with chains around their tires, which made a ‘clanking’ noise as they passed.

            After school we would run home, gulp down our teas and out with the sledges. There were sledging runs all over East Leeds and especially on East End Park but we were lucky we had ‘Nozzy Hill’ on our doorstep. It was the longest run in the district, almost traffic free and had a left hand bend at its steepest part, which was fun to negotiate, laid on our stomachs and steering around the bend by trailing our left wellies. Night sledging was a magical world of indigo skies and crisp white snow. I can still hear the cries of excited kids, still hear the ‘swish’ of the runners in the snow the occasional bump as the sledge hit an ice ridge; feel the adrenalin rush of speed close to the ground and see the white faces emerge momentarily in front of you before being swallowed up in the darkness behind. As the night wore on the run got faster and faster as the runners polished the ice to glass and quieter too as younger kids drifted off home and you were left to speed alone into the blackness. Heaven help the poor folk who had to negotiate that hill on their way to work next morning but that was never our consideration. Older lads, who were too big to argue with would sometimes make late arrivals, they would wait for you to drag your sledge up the hill and then pinch a free ride by diving on your back as you passed on your downward run.

Sledges were usually home made; hammered together from boxes by your dad in the cellar. I had an aunt who was a great sledge maker she even managed to incorporate strip metal runners, which made my sledge a Rolls Royce of the day. In the wake of that great 1947 winter some of us kids asked our parents to buy us proper tubular steel sledges for our Christmas present the following year but alas we never got our money’s worth for we never had another winter like 1947 while we were of an age to enjoy it.

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