Nostalgic look as snowed in Sidmouth - 1978 style

PUBLISHED: 15:47 23 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:34 18 June 2010

AS A relative newcomer to East Devon, having lived here just 24 years, I can only remember seeing snow settle once before.

AS A relative newcomer to East Devon, having lived here just 24 years, I can only remember seeing snow settle once before.

Hubby built a sledge for our girls to use in the field behind our home, but sadly it has not settled since, until this year - too late for my now grown-up and moved away family.

But seeing the snow 2009 style prompted Sidmouth Herald reader Val Clifford from Woolbrook Park to turn out a copy of the Herald from February 25 1978.

That was REAL snow, banked alongside roads higher than the cars passing by. Snow that buried Sidmouth High Street under a three foot layer.

Snowploughs and mechanical diggers worked 24 hours a day in a three-pronged attack from Sidbury, Ottery St Mary and Honiton to clear the newly-opened Sidmouth to Honiton road, hampered by abandoned vehicles in drifts of up to 14 feet deep.

Some 21 people were stranded for several days at the Hare and Hounds pub, their cars buried up to their roofs.

Brian and Beverly Lister found themselves catering for 18 unexpected guests, and Mrs Lister was amazed at how fast the snow was falling.

"The blizzard was so fierce that the people in the cars could actually see the level of snow rising around them. They abandoned their cars before they were trapped in them."

Despite getting low on food and without water after burst pipes brought down a bedroom ceiling, she said morale was high, with people playing pool, cards and dominoes.

"We're getting water to drink by melting snow in front of the log fire in a milk churn," she said.

Farmers were forced to throw away gallons of milk as snow prevented tankers getting to their farms, but thankfully farm livestock did not suffer too much in the freeze as most farms were well stocked with fodder.

Worst hit was a Dunkeswell farmer who lost 40 sheep before anyone could reach them.

The paper reported: "One farmer, Hugh Lyster of Higher Knapp, near Sidbury, made himself a pair of snow shoes to get around his farm.

He said: "Some of the drives were 14 feet deep. One the main road I could stand on the drifts and touch the top of telegraph poles.

"One of the main problems has been that we have had to dig out the milking equipment twice a day as new snowfalls covered it."

In the same edition of the Herald a Sidford man speaks of East Devon's previous severe snowfall in 1915.

Mr R Jumeaux said: "I can remember seeing snow heaped up to cover the front doors of cottages that used to stand at the corner of High Street and Fry's Lane.

"The people had to climb through their bedroom windows to get out of doors."

* Do you remember the 1978 snowfall in Sidmouth? Contact Nostalgia: (01392) 888 502.


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