Leeds nostalgia: The winter of ‘62 still beats anything we’ve seen in recent times

George Mitchell and his milk "float" in winter of 1963 near Balm Road, Hunslet.
George Mitchell and his milk "float" in winter of 1963 near Balm Road, Hunslet.
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Turn the clocks back to 1962 and there was only one thing on the minds of the people of Leeds – and that was the weather.

In the New Year’s Day edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post, story after story recounted the effect the cold was having on the lives of Leeds residents as the second year of the Swinging Sixties dawned.

A FLASHBACK TO THE SCENE NEAR THE TOP OF GARROWBY HILL,ON THE YORK-BRIDLINGTON  ROAD,IN JANUARY 1962

A FLASHBACK TO THE SCENE NEAR THE TOP OF GARROWBY HILL,ON THE YORK-BRIDLINGTON ROAD,IN JANUARY 1962

It had been a trying festive period for some. Mrs Winnie Goss of Leeds had had to cook her Christmas dinner on her neighbour’s gas stove when a power cut threatened her turkey and brussels sprouts with ruin.

Having recovered from that crisis, she found herself plunged into darkness on New Year’s Eve, trying to enjoy the occasion by the light of two candles as power cuts struck once again.

“We went to bed before midnight,” she said with understated and British resignation.

Elsewhere in Leeds, hot food had to be rushed to old people in 60 flats in Ireland Wood, in a rescue mission involving Leeds Corporation welfare, health and housing departments, the Civil Defence and the Women’s Voluntary Services.

Meanwhile the Central Electricity Generating Board was pleading with the population to switch off all non-essential appliances in the morning and at teatime to minimise the impact on electricity supplies.

December 1961 was the coldest winter since records began. There was a worse winter to follow a year later, in 1962/3.

Back then they only knew that they had just lived through the coldest Christmas for 40 years when temperatures had hit 24F(Minus 4C) on Christmas Day.

So while we may all talk of ‘climate change’ and think we’ve got it bad, it’s not quite as bad as that just yet.

Christmas from the archives. 1916 The Captives Christmas at Lofthouse Park