Leeds nostalgia: The year they skated on Roundhay Park’s Waterloo Lake

1952:  Skating on Waterloo Lake.
1952: Skating on Waterloo Lake.
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A little bit of yin and yang this week with two pictures taken in the 1950s at Roundhay Park - one shows people skating on Waterloo Lake in 1952, while the other shows crowds relaxing on Whit Sunday in 1955.

If we think our winters are cold lately or even that the winter of 2010 was cold, then it probably wasn’t as cold as it was for the lake to freeze to a depth which would allow so many people to skate upon it in 1952. Those who lived at the time recall the winter was a particularly harsh one and that it reached well into the following year.

CROWDS RELAX IN ROUNDHAY PARK, LEEDS ON WHIT SUNDAY IN 1955.

CROWDS RELAX IN ROUNDHAY PARK, LEEDS ON WHIT SUNDAY IN 1955.

But even that wasn’t as cold as the winter of 1962/3. In that year, snow began falling on December 22 of 1962 and continued on and off right up until March 6 – that’s a solid 10 weeks worth of the white stuff.

It made the 1947 seven-week long winter look like a dress rehearsal, at least that’s how the Yorkshire Evening Post put it in a report on Friday, March 1, 1963, when snow was still falling.

It said there had only been three days in that 70-day period, January 26, 27 and 28, when the temperature rose above freezing. Leeds shivered through its coldest month since 1881, when the average temperature was 0.5 Celsius (33 Fahrenheit).

As the country geared up for Christmas, the streets thronged with shoppers scouring outlets for last-minute bargains. Warnings of blizzards sweeping across Europe were heard but did not hit home. Even when snow began to fall as darkness fell on December 22, people considered the onset of winter a novelty to savour. They went out sledging and ice-skating.

By January 4, the blizzards which had torn across Europe and left tourists stranded, were lashing Yorkshire. Then came a slight thaw, which led to thousands of burst water pipes. Then more snow.

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