Thursday, 13 November 2014

The winter of 1946 - 1947.

Winter of 1946–47 in the United Kingdom


Soldiers digging out snow drifts
along railway lines.
"The winter of 1946–1947 was a harsh European winter noted for its effects in the United Kingdom. The UK experienced several cold spells, beginning on 21 January 1947, bringing large drifts of snow to the country, which caused roads and railways to be blocked. Coal supplies, already low following the Second World War, struggled to get through to power stations and many stations were forced to shut down for lack of fuel. The government introduced several measures to cut power consumption, including restricting domestic electricity to 19 hours per day and cutting industrial supplies completely. In addition, radio broadcasts were limited, television services were suspended, some magazines were ordered to stop being published and newspapers were cut in size. 

(This is me in May 1947.)
Mid-March brought milder air to the country which thawed the snow lying on the ground. This snowmelt ran off the frozen ground straight into rivers and caused widespread flooding. More than 100,000 properties were affected and the Army and foreign aid agencies were forced to provide humanitarian aid. With the cold weather over and the ground thawing there were no further weather problems. 

The winter had severe effects on British industries with around 10% of the year's industrial production lost, cereal and potato crops down 10–20% and one quarter of sheep stocks lost. The ruling Labour Party began to lose popularity which led to their loss of a large number of seats to the Conservative Party in the 1950 election. The winter is also cited as a factor in the devaluation of the pound from $4.03 to $2.80, Britain's decline from superpower status and the introduction of the Marshall Plan to aid war-torn Europe. The effects on the rest of Europe were also severe with 150 deaths from cold and famine in Berlin, civil disorder in the Netherlands and business closures in the Republic of Ireland."

The above information courtesy of Wikipedia.

Whilst the winter was both long and extremely cold another important event occurred in January of 1947.  On the 9th of January, 1947 I was born!
 I don't remember  anything about it or the fact that the country was experiencing a "once in a lifetime spell of extreme weather".  Now that sounds familiar.

I was born in my grandparents house on Harrington Street, Cleethorpes in the county of Lincolnshire.  Apparently it was a difficult birth being a breach birth, I made my first appearance backside first!  My mother would often say, in later years that I could be stubborn and awkward, adding "you were even born arse first"!  

I was one of thousands of children born in the years following WW2, we were known as "Baby Boomers". 

(See "About Me" page for more info regarding Baby Boomers.)

As a family there was my mother and father, Kathleen and George and my sister Kathleen who was 5 years my senior. I have a younger brother, Brian, but it would be another 13 years until he came along.
This is me photographed in
June 1947 (long after the snow)
with my Granddad and sister.

Note the home made knitted
swimsuit Kathleen is wearing.

Just like most young families of the time we lived with my grand parents in their house.  No-one of working class in the years just after World War 2 expected to buy their own house and my grand parents rented their house from a private landlord. 

This arrangement was common and allowed newly married couples to save for their own home.  It would be quite a few years until the councils embarked on a massive building scheme to provide council housing, referred to now as "social housing".  Many years later people would start to buy their own houses.