As you wrap yourself up in your favourite blanket and turn up the central heating this winter, cast your mind back to winters past, as we look at some of London’s chilliest winters on record.
Read on to discover some of the coldest winters ever to hit London…
2009/10: a bit chilly
Chances are you’ll remember this one. Back in 2009, the average temperature across the UK dipped to 1.51°C, compared with the usual average of 3.7°C. Severe weather warnings were issued and travel chaos ensued. Airport, road and railway closures brought the UK to a standstill.
Dubbed The Big Freeze by media outlets, the severe weather conditions affected most of the UK and much of wider Europe. The lowest temperature recorded that year was a teeth-shattering −22.3 °C on 8th January in Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands. The snowfall in January even resulted in the postponement of the FA Cup.
Probably the best story to come out of that cold, cold winter was the rescue of stranded commuters at London Victoria Station by the steam engine ‘Tornado’.
As if post-war life wasn’t miserable enough, in January of 1947 Britain was hit by incredibly harsh weather conditions. Temperatures dipped to -1.9°C and hampered efforts to rebuild London following its extensive bombing during the war.
The extreme conditions caused fuel shortages, business closures and power cuts. There were fears too of an impending food shortage and the government was blamed. When the big thaw finally came in March 1947, the melted snow and ice caused widespread flooding.
1962/63: pretty darn cold
The swinging sixties turned into the shivering sixties during the winter of 1962/63, when temperatures fell to −2.1°C. The cold conditions were reportedly a result of an anticyclone over Scandinavia, and later Iceland, bringing bitterly cold winds from Russia. The big dip first hit on Boxing Day and was followed by ferocious blizzards for several weeks. In January it’s reported that even the sea froze for a mile offshore in Kent. The Thames froze in places and someone even drove their car onto it on 22 January (really not recommended).
1565: absolutely freezing
Although there is no record of temperatures during this period, it’s safe to say – if it was cold enough for the Thames to freeze over for over two weeks, it was impressively cold. The long cold winter of 1565 lasted until March, but it didn’t stop people having fun. Allegedly Queen Elizabeth was seen daily on the ice.
1795: probably the coldest winter ever
The coldest ever temperature recorded in London was -3.1°C in the big freeze of January 1795. The frost lasted for months, and the cold temperatures of the following years led to this period being named ‘The Little Ice Age’.
And what about winter 2017/18…?
If you haven’t looked out your woolies yet, now is definitely the time. The Met Office has predicted temperatures are about to plummet this year, with ice and snow forecast UK-wide. Make sure your central heating is up to the job this winter, get in touch for maintenance or repairs.