In the North
An effort to reach Sheffield from Manchester-normally a pleasant 35 mile
drive-succeeded this evening on the only road open, the A629
Huddersfield-Sheffield. In an earlier attempt a small new 10 h.p. car jibbed
at a 1-in-11 hill on the A616 road.
Batteries of snowploughs, working round the clock, kept the A629 road open.
In parts more than one foot of snow, drifting all the time in the high
winds, had had to be moved to clear the road to half its normal width.
Distance travelled 83 miles. Time taken: six hours.
3-00 p.m.: Leave Manchester. Snow on the roads in the city well pounded and
probably salted but some tricky ruts beneath the muck. A little light
snowfall on the way north out of Manchester.
3-30. Littleborough, Lancashire. In Rochdale-an apparently deserted town-the
snow has held its own against the vehicles and has not been mauled into
slush. Vicious winds spume groping tendrils across the roads, catching
unwary motorists by surprise and, combined with the slippery surface,
causing at least one dangerous wobble. Hove to under an advertisement that
never seemed more sensible: "Next time, go by train."
4-00. Hebden Bridge. Todmorden local authority has snowplough and gritting
lorry in that town, apparently for the first time today. They are doing an
effective job. A mighty Lancashire County Council sander out in this area,
too. Traffic quite heavy. First motorcycle (of three) seen wobbling away.
Road (A646) well cleared of a four-inch fall of snow last night; 30 m.p.h.
not unsafe. Sky benevolently threatening, with a pink glow in its sombre
4-30. Halifax. Road into city maintains excellent standard. Road out to
Huddersfield blotted out by driven snow, which makes driving like flying
along the top of a cumulo-stratus cloud. One snowplough out, but road still
covered with level, relatively safe snow. What a luxuriously quiet
ride this gives. Wind rising. Lights on. Freezing hard. (Bring hand in
5-00. New Mill (A616). Silent ride on frozen snow-the sort of road and
scenery that ought to be leading to two weeks' ski-ing in Austria. No
obvious attempts at clearing snow here. South-facing hills affected worst.
Traffic at 1912 levels, so correcting swings and skids is an easy and
leisurely business. Soon after this point the road climbed. Evidence of hard
work by snowploughs increased, the drifts on each side of the narrow
carriageway grew 6ft. high and looked very mean and unholiday-ish.
Struggling through the snow, which gale-force winds whipped into impassable
drifts as fast as snowploughs and mechanical shovel attacked them, 1 reached
the hamlet of Victoria, 16 miles north of Sheffield, where Mr J. Quarmby,
licensee of the Victoria Inn (serving a population of 20), said nothing but
a tracked vehicle had been through all day. One car had tried to reach
Huddersfield but, Mr. Quarmby said, even with everyone in the place helping,
" it was a waste of good time and effort."
6-30.Talk about the terrible state of things. Walk back to car -talk to
driver of mechanical shovel and decide to withdraw to New Mill, where can
try the A629 road.
7-30. En route for Sheffield. Only occasional doubts about ultimate
9-00. Journey accomplished with the help of shovel and a scuttle full of
coke (for putting under the wheels and-if this proved ineffective-writing
HELP with in the snow). JOHN O'CALLAGHAN"
As reported in the Manchester Guardian booklet "The Long Winter 1962-63"