Norfolk in the 1960s: Memories of the Big Freeze of 1962-3

A bulldozer clears ice from a filter bed at Norwich waterworks during the Big Freeze. Dated: Winter, 1963.

A bulldozer clears ice from a filter bed at Norwich waterworks during the Big Freeze. Dated: Winter, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

It's that time of year when carol crooners conjure magical images of a white Christmas.

But during the Big Freeze of 1962-3, that dream became a nightmare when Norfolk found itself in an Arctic grip for more than sixty days - then the coldest winter since 1740. 

And today we are revisiting that infamous winter with a gallery of old photos from the Eastern Daily Press archive.

Schoolchildren give a motorist stuck on Thunder Lane, Norwich help when stuck in the snow 1963.

Schoolchildren who had to abandon their bus on the steep slopes of Thunder Lane, Norwich, yesterday, give a helping hand to a motorist whose car failed to "make the grade". Date: February 19, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

Picture the scene.

It was December 1962. Christmas festivities were winding down. The prospect of a new year loomed.

And on Boxing Day the flurry of flakes falling since November started to fall more and more persistently.

Rather than life returning to normal temperatures plummeted, pipes froze and snowdrifts blocked roads.

Clearing a road blocked by a snowdrift at Paston on February 4, 1963.

Clearing a road blocked by a snowdrift over 400 yards long and 8 ft. deep at Paston. Date: February 4, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

Bullards brewery boss Gerald Bullard on the frozen River Wensum, Norwich in 1963

Norwich Bullards Brewery boss, Gerald Bullard, put on his skates to sup his pint of Bullards best on the frozen River Wensum in 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

A low-pressure system gathered strength unleashing blizzards across East Anglia.

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Stranded ships were stuck in the frozen sea and 60mph winds tore across the region.

Beach huts near Great Yarmouth in the Big Freeze in 1962. 

Beach huts near Great Yarmouth in the Big Freeze. Date: 1962. - Credit: Archant Library

Frontpage of the Eastern Daily Press on January 22, 1963

Frontpage of the Eastern Daily Press on January 22, 1963. Search the EDP archive and back copies at localrecall.co.uk. - Credit: Archant Library

A group abandon their vehicle stuck in the snow near Ludham in 1963

A group abandon their vehicle when snow made the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham impassable. A double-decker bus and six other vehicles were abandoned overnight. Date: January 1, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

A fleet of diggers and ploughs across Norfolk fought a losing battle to keep roads open. Farmers could not harvest winter crops. 

A digger tries to help a trapped car when snow blocked the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham in 1963.

A digger tries to help a trapped car when snow blocked the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham. Date: January 1, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

A car stuck in the snow and a digger behind it near Ludham in 1963.

A car stuck in the snow on the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham with a digger behind. A double-decker bus and six other vehicles were abandoned overnight. Date: January 1, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

Eventually the ferocious winds calmed but temperatures then dropped even further and conditions did not improve until March.

Perhaps you were a youngster at the time and remember the Big Freeze of 1962-3. You might have heard tales about it from family members.  

Please enjoy these photos from our archive which capture that bitterly cold winter. 

Ford Anglia in the snow near Beccles in 1963. 

Ford Anglia in the snow near Beccles in 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

Snow at Wroxham Broad on January 17, 1963.

Snow at Wroxham Broad on January 17, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

A digger cleared snow on the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham. Date: January 1, 1963.

A digger cleared snow on the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham. Date: January 1, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

A digger cleared snow to reach a stuck car on the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham in 1963.

A digger cleared snow to reach a stuck car on the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham. A double-decker bus and six other vehicles were abandoned overnight. Date: January 1, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

Snow blocking the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham in 1963.

Weather Snow blocking the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham. A double-decker bus and seven other vehicles were abandoned overnight. Date: January 1, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library

A lone digger tries to clear snow blocking the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham in 1963.

A lone digger tries to clear snow blocking the Wroxham to Potter Heigham road at Ludham. Date: January 1, 1963. - Credit: Archant Library


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