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1836: Huge snow drifts bring country to standstill

The snow drifts of 1836 bring the Royal mail to a standstill, imagined with AI by Bing Image Creator.

The depth of snow in drifts in the hollows of most of the roads is reported to be from twelve to twenty feet. In the high open roads there is no snow lying, it being blown away by the wind as fast as it falls.

Inspectors were on Tuesday and yesterday sent out in all directions by the Post-office, and it is hoped, by the exertions that have been made and are now making, an end will be put to the obstacles that have caused this sudden and disastrous suspension of all communication with the provinces …

One of the King's messengers arrived here at four o'clock this afternoon. He left London yesterday morning by coach, and states that with great difficulty they got to Cuckfield by five in the evening, I'm just before reaching that town, they were obliged to obtain the assistance of twenty-five men to help them in. Two other coaches were also stopped there, the snow lying across the road ten feet deep …

The messenger came on at one o'clock to-day on horseback, and describes the snow through which a track has been cut, as resembling in some places a wall of six feet on each side. Such a sudden influx of unwilling visitors into Cuckfield made lodgings so scarce, that many were obliged to sleep two in a bed. Several coaches were also locked up on the Cuckfield road …

The Brighton mail was forwarded on horseback to Crawley, it being impossible to get the coach on a fresh drift, since the guard left on Sunday night near Patcham; but from Crawley, a chase can travel. …

We hear that thirteen miles of the road have been cleared as far as Piecombe, and that the Sovereign coach has been got thus far, and several of the passengers have since walked into Brighton. If no more snow falls, one of the coachmasters says he expects to run a coach tomorrow (Wednesday). This, however, other coachmen very much doubt.

The Patriot, 28 December 1836

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

Visit Cuckfield Museum, follow the link for details



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