The Big Freeze of January ’48

The picture above was taken on Salent Street just as the big freeze took hold on 4th January 1948 in Restington, Cambs.

British Railways J70 68217 is pictured on the tramway with a mixed goods train. Cars parked in the streets were an increasing problem for tramway traffic, with frozen doors and engines causing further delays for tramway freight through this long cold January.

Fireman Nick Shire was known for stopping to help stranded motorists with their frozen cars by piling scorching-hot cinders underneath car doors and bonnets to help them thaw.

The cow-catcher fitted steam trams were also used as stand-in snow ploughs, operating across main lines, private sidings and branches within the local area. Little photographic evidence of such operations is yet to come to light.

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