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Barling & Wakering Villages Plus
Wintry Memories - 1947

Article by Laurie Street - December 2014

At the start of 1947 I was eleven, I have often said I lived in Victory Cottages.

The cottages were higher than the road, a grass bank led down to the road. Across the road there were no houses or other buildings just a stumpy elm hedge which was cut regularly by Mr Bentall’s workers. We faced east, beyond the hedge there was just open fields for miles right over to the sea.

I don’t remember when the snow started but this winter was undoubtedly the worst I remember locally.

It snowed and it snowed and it snowed, coupled with this the wind was very strong from the north east which made for blizzard conditions, swirling the snow like a corkscrew. There was soon many feet of snow which was augmented by the fact that when drifting snow meets a hedge it builds up not at the face of the hedge but behind it, on the road side. There was soon so much snow the road was impassable.

I think rock salt was unheard of, certainly none found its way onto the roads round here. Vehicles were much smaller than now, from what I remember a reasonable size lorry wasn’t much bigger than Ford Transit.

We dug caves into the snow like igloos. Actually once inside out of the wind if felt quite warm certainly less cold.

We were still feeling the effects of the war years, everything was still rationed including clothing warm clothes were short supply, If not by rationing by money. Money was short in Victory Cottages and particularly so at number 16. Newspaper was a useful insulator. We put folded layers inside our shoes or boots if we could afford them. We also put layers of newspaper between the blankets of our beds and as many coats as we could find on top.

Life went on. We still got to school by sliding along the road. We all held hands and went along or across the road like a snake. We went on the ice at the Puggy or more correctly went through the ice and got wet through.

There was little traffic able to move so the danger from vehicles was slim. Roads were not gritted so the snow just became packed which turned into ice. Long slides appeared, sledges were made by hand and used to haul logs and anything else.

We still got supplies, our village bakers, there were three then, seemed to get enough flour to make bread.

Bentall’s had a local milkman who lived in Kimberly Road. He used to deliver from two churns carried on the handlebars of his bike. He carried two jugs (one held a pint and the other a quart). He just decanted what you wanted from his jug to yours. (Infection never heard of it. The milk came straight from the cow).

As far as I remember we had no coalmen actually in Wakering but several came from the railway sidings at Shoebury (All coal came by rail  then) Jim Sterry had a horse and cart, My Offord came with a lorry. He was a lovely man, always helpful. I remember him saying to my mother, “Mrs Street if I have to carry it all the way on my back you will have coal”. He never needed to go to this length but we always had coal.

Then one day a lorry appeared (Jim Church’s I think) loaded with a gritty mixture. Two men stood on the back and spread shovels of the mixture about the road. This didn’t actually melt the snow but gave vehicles a grip. Jim Church had the sand pit at Barling. I think the mixture was something we now call ‘Hoggin’, a sort of dirty sand.

This was the beginning of the end of the great freeze but it had lasted weeks and weeks. All the kids I knew had a whale of a time but never once missed school.

Happy days and happy Christmas 2014-67 years on and still going strong and can still do my sums without an infernal machine.

More appropriate picture to follow. This is the junction of Little Wakering Road with Barrow Hall Road, close to where Laurie used to live.