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The Heritage Bank marked the 50th anniversary of the big freeze by appealing for more local recollections.

From Boxing Day 1962 to March 1963 much of England was under snow in the coldest winter for over 200 years. Villages were cut off, some for several days. Lakes, rivers and even the sea froze over in places. Roads and railways were blocked. Telephone wires were brought down. Stocks of food ran low. Farmers couldn’t reach their livestock. Thousands of sheep and cattle around the country starved to death.

Records show that the A3 over Butser Hill was blocked by drifts of snow with drivers being stranded and having to abandoning their vehicles.

And children were sent home from the village school “owing to the frozen state of the lavatories and pipes.”

Michael Reeves had some vivid recollections as he and other members of his family, including cousin Monica Stokes, had left a family party in Portsmouth on Boxing Day afternoon but got stuck in a blizzard on the A3 just passed the Clanfield turning where several cars and a double-decker bus were all stranded in deep, drifting snow. The intense cold wind made it impossible to walk far and so the family wrapped themselves in blankets and spent the night in their cars.

Waking in the morning they found the snow on one side of the car to be higher than the roof – but they could climb out of doors on the other side. The wind had dropped and it was a lovely morning with stunning views of the South Downs . They made their way over the tops of hedges and abandoned cars to the Hogs Lodge for a welcome brandy! They then walked towards Petersfield until they met a snow plough struggling up towards the cutting. They had to wait quite some time for their cars to be dug out …