City of Southampton Society
Registered Charity No 1006256 England and Wales
caring for our city's heritage and its green open spaces
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                                      Titanic departing from Southampton April 1912          John Melody Town Crier          
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Remembering severe winters at Southampton 

By John Avery

The severe freeze we experienced in January 2010 was lessened to some degree as many of our homes, shops and offices are heated but if we turn the clock back a few years [and yes those were periods of climate change] the severity must have had major consequences on the residents of the town often with coal stocks frozen and little or no heating.

February l8 1855 newspaper report

State of the River Thames on Friday. -The river about Greenwich was much covered with ice: the navigation is completely stopped. The masters of the vessels frozen up in the piers, between the Custom House and the Pool, have adopted every precaution, in laying out extra mooring chains, in case of the ice breaking away the corporation mooring chains. In many parts of the river below the bridge the ice has set in so firm between the shore and the vessels moored near mid-stream, that the crews walk to and from their vessels to the shore. All the labourers along the shore are thrown out of employment and great distress prevails.

Southampton Water was almost covered with floating ice on Thursday. A brig, in coming down from Eling, at the top of Southampton Water, had a hole knocked in her while ploughing through the masses of ice, and was in danger of sinking. The boats in the stream had to be guarded from the ice by hurdles placed at the bows. In Southampton Docks scores of mullet were caught with the hand and in hand nets. They floated about by hundreds on the surface, alive, but perfectly helpless, being benumbed by the intense cold.

 5th April 1888 newspaper report

Severe snowstorms and gales have been experienced in many parts of the country during the week. The traffic on the Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton Railway was interrupted for several hours on the 20th inst. by a snow-block in a deep cutting near Compton. A goods train which left Didcot Junction between two and three o'clock was snowed up, and a snow-plough and a large gang of men were at work for some time before a passage through the snow could be affected.

22 March 1899 newspaper report

Low-lying houses at Southampton were flooded, the inhabitants escaping on rafts and boats from the second story windows. The cross channel services were performed with great difficulty. The marine promenade St. Hellier, Jersey, was greatly damaged. Railways inland were disorganized.  The Trafalgar broke from her moorings, and was only just saved by tugs from collision with the Terrible. The battleship Terror arrived at Portsmouth with her funnel, weighing 20 tons, damaged. The ship was in a terrific roll in the Bay of Biscay. Tremendous tidal waves Inundated the North Wales coast and flooded the country in many parts.

10th January 1940 newspaper report

Southampton. - The dock at Southampton was frozen and the steamer to the Isle of Wight was ice-bound. Ice-breakers vainly endeavoured to free, the Thames, Humber, Mersey, Severn, and other rivers and canals for traffic. Railways in North Wales were snowed up.

3rd January 1949 newspaper report

Southampton. - At Southampton two liners, the Warwick Castle, from South Africa, and Orion, from Australia, were held up off the Isle of Wight because the gale prevented them taking on pilots.

In the English Channel blinding rainstorms added to the difficulties of shipping.

3rd January 1952 newspaper report

Southampton. -High winds at Southampton prevented the departure on a three day trial of the 16,000-ton liner Gothic, in which Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh will travel on their Australian and New Zealand tour next month.

 7th January 2010 CCN news

Britain's Highways Agency warned of difficult driving conditions in central southern England and the north of the country. It urged drivers to delay non-essential trips. Dozens of cars were left sitting on the side of the road in Southampton after drivers became stuck in snow.

8th January 2010 BBC news

Several rural communities in Hampshire are still waiting for the gritting lorries to arrive and clear roads, as some residents face being stuck in their homes for the fourth day.

Outdoor visit to Minstead Church image courtesy Will Temple Outdoor visit on a Guy Arab open top busTug tender Calshot in preservation