Alec to his parents:
Dear Mum and Dad,
Thank you for letters received and thawed out. My golly you must be having it bad at your end. The effect of our lot is diminished (fortunately) by the numbers of pedestrians and vehicles passing over it, coupled with the efforts of various official bodies in clearing it. More of that later, but first to the points raised in your letters.
Sorry about the late arrival of the letter this last week’s. It was due to late posting, that was all. June did not go out on the Monday and I had intended to take letter to Liverpool Street and post, but forgot it. It got posted on Tuesday afternoon when June went down to the shops. Not bad to arrive first post Wednesday, after all.
Difficulty in getting about this end is mainly confined to the side streets. Our hill is still bad, but most of us have cleared our front paths so that there is a fairly continuous walkway for pedestrians. The road is very bad – apart from the width of a single track in the middle, which is flattened to the consistency of glass and looks like it – the edges on either side are still piled high with hard snow. If you get the car straddled across one of these it is extremely difficult to extricate yourself. The only way is to get the car moving forward and backwards like a pendulum with longer strokes each time until the front wheels climb back out over the heap. I have had to do this a couple of times, and believe me you have to be very slippy with clutch and gear changes when the initial moves in either direction are only about 6 inches. I have been caught like this when trying to turn in the road. The real answer is to carry on to a side road that has been flattened and turn there.
I do not recall the Avenue being covered to the depth of snow you mentioned. I should imagine the countryside looks very pretty with all the snow despite its unwelcome arrival. I do not think we have had any weather that could rightfully be called blizzards. High winds without snow, and snow without wind, but fortunately we have not had both together.
Some time for the mechanical shovel to arrive – at 4 a.m.. Still better late than never.
I have been able to start the car – eventually – each time I go out. We went out on Saturday 5th and again I took car out this Friday. It started both times after a struggle. Again yesterday the same performance, but we made it.
Have not heard of any guttering breaking this end. Some game for poor old Bushell. On top of all this he of course has the worry of not having a licence.
I heard of a case of the Hoddesdon Town Council (Essex I think) who hired a mechanical shovel to clear the snow. This thing was progressing along a road digging into the drifts and chucking the snow over the hedge. At one point it dug into the drift and before anyone knew what was happening picked up an Austin Mini and threw it over the hedge. Latter a write-off.
Good picture of the dumping of the snow onto the beach. Thanks for all the cuttings and the paper. You talk about the frost freezing the ridged up snow. The words ‘deep and crisp and even’ begin to make sense now. I could never understand where the ‘crisp’ bit came in before.
I think I remember the winter of 1927, if I recollect aright we went to Tiverton for the Christmas and I do remember walking out in the snow from the house in Barton Rd over the fields towards Norwood Rd. That is straight out of the end of the garden. This has all been built in and on now. 1947 of course was mainly spent at number 17 Eccleston Road so I know all about that one.
You say you have a chill each which I am sorry to hear. As a matter of fact I had one on Friday 4th. Was alright when I got home from work, but as the evening wore on it began to take effect and it kept me awake all night with the usual trimmings. Oddly enough although I had no breakfast I felt quite O.K. next day with not even a headache. This however was followed by a slight cold which I have just shaken off. June and the girls continued with their catarrh etc. and all went to the doctor yesterday morning. He said they were all getting better now but gave them all penicillin syrup (tablets for June) to the tune of ten shillings worth of prescriptions. [Roughly £11.40 in 2023 money.] The children are bearing their coughs and colds much better now. Being a bit older makes a difference. Sorry to hear about your colds. We have little worries on that score as you know.
We have got a clean glow for the boiler, but supplies are satisfactory as we do not run the boiler every day. Hope you can get your extra coal through all right. Our gas fire – wonderful. Even in the coldest weather we have no need to have the fire on full except for a few minutes. Occasionally the room temperature seems to drop a bit, and turning up the fire and soon put that right and we turn it down again. It is a much more reliable and satisfactory instrument than the electric one although it may work out a little expensive. We have had one heavy gas bill in, but we have to remember that it contains costs which would formerly have been set against electricity and coal. No turning out in the cold for coal now. Of course this winter’s working results and costs are truly not representative.
Good joke about the standing passengers on the trains from Clevedon. I would not be surprised if they have not the cheek to claim that they are entitled to seats and that the railways should put on more coaches etc etc.[sic]
I have not worn the Wellingtons for some time now, preferring to wear the overshoes. The latter can be slipped off at the office leaving the feet and shoes still fairly warm. Sorry you had to turn out in a blizzard to post the letter. If those circs. arise again, stay indoors, we can wait for the letter. We do look forward to it, but not at the cost of health.
Re: move from West Drayton, we went over to number 17 yesterday while the girls were at their party. We took over Hoover and sewing machine and my box of bits and pieces for any odd jobs. We found the builders still there (all five of them) and what with Peter and Pauline and ourselves we had a house full. All we were able to achieve was to get some temporary lace curtains up. We left the other things there as June will go over there on Wednesday to assist with the move. Ethel is having Susan for meals and Carol is going with Auntie Delph. I am having a half day to pick them all up.
Thought you would like the comment about the rent man. Latest funny this end is the parting greeting “cheerio, mind how you trip”.
Despite Susan’s preference for flats etc for parties, she enjoyed yesterday’s all right. Carol said she enjoyed herself, she said Mrs Pearse said we could help ourselves, and Susan joined in by saying “Yes we were allowed to start with the fancies”. She also said “What I liked best was the small sausages on cocktail sticks”. None for dad though.
We used to have a very good toboggan run down Church Hill immediately behind Hack’s house. Do they still use that one?
No snow in our attic, we have had the outlets from our bath and hand basin freeze up all the week. The early part of the week they un-freeze during the day but latterly they have not. Yesterday we found no water coming down from the cold water tank (although boiler on) so I went up smartly to see what had happened and found that the inlet and outlet to the cold water tank had frozen solid. There was also a quarter inch of ice on tank. The remedy (before the boiler blew up) was to open trap in loft and station two convector heaters underneath, one electric and one paraffin. I put the former on a chair to get it nearer the trap door. We turned the fire right down and went out shopping. After about an hour or so we got back and I was then able to work the ball valve up and down a little which released a trickle of water. A few minutes later and all was right again. Last night we left the trap door open, and as we always have a paraffin heater on the landing, some of the heat went up into loft and kept the tank from again freezing.
Our primulas still going strong. Not a lot of flower, but plenty of growth. Sorry to hear yours and the other plants suffered in the frost. What is condition of greenhouse or do you not go down there?
Glad Mrs Cornish like the Apricot, but it must be past its best by now.
Have not heard from the Benns for some time. I expect they know all about this type of weather having lived in Yorkshire.
Well hope you are both better now, and no more chills or ills. Love from us all.