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1928: Snowstorm - socks over shoes

Updated: Dec 28, 2022


Snowstorm incidents in Mid Sussex


Many inconveniences and two broken legs


Mid-Sussex has been an unpleasant place in which to live during the past week. The heavy snowfall was welcomed by many people as being seasonable, but when it developed into slush, opinions began to change. Then the frost came, travelling became very difficult, and a number of more or less serious accidents and incidents occurred.


Some roads were practically impassable for vehicular traffic, and pedestrians had difficulty in keeping their feet, the pavements and roads being so slippery.


The blizzard caught the road authorities at a most inopportune time, as the employees were dispersed for the Christmas holidays, and many were not due back until Wednesday. At Haywards Heath, however, the snow plough was got to work on the principal streets on Tuesday morning, and gangs of men were busy with brooms and shovels clearing the pavements. This promptitude resulted in comfortable travelling later in the week.


It is necessary to go back to February, 1881, for a parallel of the scenes witnessed along the Cuckfield-Haywards Heath road. There were at least five drifts between Steeple Cottage and Broad Street, and the most extensive one was between Butler's and Tyler’s Greens. This was a hundred yards in length and 5ft deep in several places.


Early on Wednesday evening a lorry became embedded in the snow in Broad Street, Cuckfield, and a motorist journeying from Haywards Heath to Cuckfield had to make a detour through Burgess Hill. About six o'clock the same evening a Southdown bus was wedged in the largest drift, and it was not released until five hours later. Traffic had to be diverted via Chownes Mead Road.


Several large snow drifts formed on the Haywards Heath-Balcombe Road, which was impassable for several days. Lady Denman kindly allowed traffic to use the Balcombe Place drives in order to evade one drift, and later her employees Were busy clearing a drift while her Ladyship took a cinematograph film of the operations.


The main road from Cuckfield to Handcross was impassable for the greater part of the week owing to heavy drifts at Slough Green.


A Southdown motorbus was abandoned in the drift at Slough Green, Cuckfield, on Boxing Night, while another which was caught in a drift at Selsfield on the same evening was not reclaimed until Friday.


The bakehouse chimney at the premises of Mr TG Carter, of Cuckfield, collapsed on to the roof on Christinas night. Mr Carter's knowledge of field-baking enabled him to carry out his work under this principle last week.


A trade van belonging to Mr P Hoadley of Cuckfield, became stuck in a snow drift between Staplefieid and Slaugham on Thursday morning, and was not rescued till the evening.


When a party of four Cuckfieldians were returning from a dance at Handcross earty last Tuesday morning their car ran into a snow drift near Slough Green. Two of the party reached home by crawling over the drift on their hands and knees, while the others sought refuge in a cottage.


A gang of 20 men employed by the Cuckfield Rural District Council was engaged in clearing a way through a huge drift between Pitshead cross-roads and Warninglid village on Thursday morning, when the Rev AH Boyd (Rector of Slaugham) called at the Half Moon Inn and told the landlord to serve them with anything they required at lunch time—a kindness much appreciated.


Snow drifts on the Mill Hall road at Cuckfield prevented Messrs. Hillman and Sons, of Upper Sparks Farm, from delivering coal to their customers until Thursday afternoon. They were engaged all day on Wednesday and on Thursday morning in cutting a passage through to the Urban Council's boundary at Whiteman's Green.


A van belonging to Messrs. Carter Paterson got stuck in the snow on this hill between Staplefield and Handcross on Wednesday morning. A lorry that came to rescue it suffered a similar fate, but a third vehicle managed to remove the two by midnight.


The County Council's snow-plough at Anstye was brought into operation on Tuesday morning. It first cleared the road to Bolney and then on up the main road to the bottom of Handcross Hill.


Many persons wore old socks and stockings over their boots to prevent slipping. A Balcombe man, who wore three pairs out in one day, said it was the best safeguard he knew of!


The Mid Sussex Times, 3 January 1928


Image: created by the author.


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

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