Leeds nostalgia: Teacher shortage in 1947 led to class cuts... and coldest winter in years - even the sea froze

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On this day in 1947, a teacher shortage in Leeds meant under fives were told not to bother turning up for school.

The crisis affected around 900 children in Leeds. A report in the Yorkshire Evening Post said: “This will complicate the industrial man-power situation as many mothers, in order to go our to work, send their children to school at three, which is the earliest permitted age. For many mothers, this will not be impossible.”

The decision not to allow under fives to go to school was made by the Primary Sub-committee following a report by the inspector of schools, who had looked into the teacher shortage.

Some children up to the age of five were being kept in nursery classes in a bid to ease the problem. Mr J S Walsh, chair of the Education Committee, said: “There are 4,700 children in nursery classes and there are about 1,800 in infants schools under five. This new recommendation will mean reducing the school population by about 900 a year. It is all a question of shortage or both accommodation and teachers.”

In other news, Leeds had one of its coldest nights of the year, with some villages and towns cut off by the snow, which had been falling for several days.

Leeds was said to have “11 degrees of frost” (so, minus 11 Celsius or 12.2 Fahrenheit. But it wasn’t just Leeds that was suffering - the snow blizzard affected the whole country. In London, the River Thames froze and London’s trains, trams and buses were in chaos.

At a village in Kent 31 degrees of frost were recorded. Even parts of the sea around Folkstone harbour were said to be freezing solid. And the village of Fridaythorpe, near Pocklington, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was said to be “dry”, having run out of spirits and ale.