ON THIS DAY 1954: Warmer, then icy grip tightens as four foot snow-drift occurs in North Norfolk

Front page 3 Feb 1954. Photo: EDP Library

Front page 3 Feb 1954. Photo: EDP Library - Credit: Archant

As part of a new daily online series we look back on what was making the news on this day in Norfolk. Today, we look at the Eastern Daily Press front page of Febraury 3, 1954.

Though there was a small relaxtion of winter's grip on parts of England yesterday, there was a distinct change for the worst last night, particularly in Norfolk and Kent. There were snowdrifts on several roads in East Anglia and in exposed parts of North Norfolk, these reached a depth of between three and four feet.

'Icy surfaces are general throughout the whole country and the overall picture can only be described as extremely dangerous,' the Automobile Association reports.

Patrols stated that 20 main roads were blocked in East Anglia, the Southern Counties, Wales and Scotland, and that on at least 34 other important roads, only single-line traffic could get through.

Just over two and a half hours of sunshine brought a slight rise in temperature in Norwich during the day - to 30.8 degrees - but this had fallen to 27 degrees by the evening. At King's Lynn, the morning temperature of 29 degrees was four degrees higher than the reading at the same time on Monday.

In most parts of England and Wales, temperatures were at or a little below freezing point. In Scotland, the weather was a little milder with the highest temperature of 45 degrees being recorded at Sule Skerry, Orkney. An Air Ministry weather expert said last night that prevailing conditions were expected to continue.

A motor coaster, Daniel M of London, reached Yarmouth last night from Norwich after getting through thick ice on the Yare at Berney Arms. It took her about an hour to break through the ice, estimated to be six or seven inches thick in places, which tugs tried unsuccessfully to penetrate on Monday. Some of the sheets of ice spanned the whole width of the River Nene at Wisbech yesterday. When ice floes began to move with the tide, a Sea Cadets' boat sank and another boat was swept from its moorings, drifting several miles upstream. Ice choked valves on pumps hampered five Norfolk fire brigades at a fire which gulfed the roof and badly damaged the first floor of Snetterton Hill Farm.

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The Thames was frozen over from bank to bank at Marlow, Buckinghamshire, for the firs time since 1929. The River Severn was frozen for most of its length through Shrewsbury. The local RSPCA inspector, Mr D Watt, was kept busy freeing swans who became trapped when their feet froze to the ice.

Part of the floating harbour at Bristol was frozen to a depth of two inches. About 3,000 building workers in Bristol were without work because of the cold and operations on the new housing estate were almost at a standstill. The foreshore at Oystermouth and Southend, near Swansea, was frozen after a night showing the lowest temperature for 14 years.

Driving conditions in Cornwall were describe by the RAC as the worst since 1947 and were particularly bad also in Kent and Sussex. Because of the freeze-up several senior schools at Hove, Sussex, have closed until tomorrow, while in Brighton, some are sending the children home at lunchtime. Dozens of schools throughout Gloucestershire, Somerset and between 40 to 50 Wiltshire schools were closed because of frozen pipes. A doctor will try to go by helicopter to the snowbound Bunce Court Old People's Home at Otterden, near Favershame, today to attend 83 year-old Mrs Susannah Robson. An attempt will then be made to take Mrs Robson to the hospital in the helicopter. Mrs Robson suffered a relapse yesterday when she learned that her friend and fellow inmate, Mr A G Rose, aged 72, had died while two ambulances vainly tried to fight their way through the snowdrifts to the home. Mr Rose fell downstairs at home in the morning. As the doctor could not get through from the nearest village, the home superintendent, Mr A L Smith, took instructions from him on the telephone.

Commenting on the home being isolated, Mr Smith said, 'We are getting to our wits' end. Some food got through on Monday, but the snow closed it again during the night. We have little meat left but no bread and only a few potatoes - and there are 45 patients here.' Reuter reports that two international express trains, the Simplon-Orient from Paris and the Tauern from Ostend, were stuck in snowdrifts 25 miles west of Belgrade. About 30 miles to the west of Sarajevo-Belgrade and Zagreb-Belgrade expressed were also stuck.