Columnist John Light remembers heavy snowfalls of the past... and one in particular

1947, 1963 and now 2018 are three examples of extreme Cotswold winters. For all of them I can say proudly, I was there!

The great snow of 1947 arrived at the end of January and remained until March. It was a time of great excitement.

First of all it meant no school.

The short journey across the Sheepscombe valley was impossible for myself and my brother, Bob. With so much white fluffy snow to play in this was not a hardship.

Dad took a sack and walked to Walkletts bakery, bringing back loaves of bread for many in the village. To mum’s chagrin he left just two for us.

The steep field in front of our house was ideal for sledging, and for several weeks people came from far and wide to join in.

Italian prisoners of war eventually dug us out, and I remember the great walls of snow at the roadside, all much taller than me.

“God save the King” was patriotically written on one. Some impish scribe had added an “h”. You can guess to which word.

The great snow of 1963 actually started on Boxing Day 1962, but that fall caused no problems. It was the afternoon of Saturday, December 29, that the trouble started, especially for the Light family.

Many readers will be aware of the charming little village of Alderley. For those living on the Eastern lowlands it is between Wootton-under-Edge and Hawkesbury Upton. If you are none the wiser you should get out more.

There, at the church of St Kenelm, I was getting married. The snow had not arrived when the service started, but blew in drastically during the reception, which was interrupted by the gentleman who was going to drive us to Kemble where we would catch a train to honeymoon bliss.

His words were stark and simple: “If you do not come now you will not get there”.

We went! The train took us to Swindon where we were due to change. No trains were coming from the South West or Wales and that meant the prospect of a honeymoon in Swindon. However, a special train was provided and we managed to get to London. Mrs Light and I were paying for our own wedding, drinks were on “sale or return”, and with celebrations being cut short we anticipated a healthy amount of cash “on return”. No chance.

The guests were snowed in and drank the lot.

What of 2018? The snow so far has been minimal, but strong winds have blown it into drifts, especially around my car.

This winter has crept into competition with 1947 and 1963 because of the low temperatures and wind-chill factor.

When I wrote this three main roads out of Cirencester were impassable and many villages were cut off. No prisoners of war available to dig them out!