Chilling memories of a grim Shropshire winter

By Toby Neal | Features | Published:

You enjoyed the heatwave – now get prepared for winter.

The hard winter of 1947

But we'll be unlucky if it's anything like as bad as the Shropshire winter pictured here from over 70 years ago.

And chancing on this picture on the Shropshire Star website has brought back memories of that winter to send chills down the spine – and every other part of the body, for that matter – for John Smithson, who lives in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire.

John is writing his biography, and was searching on the internet for the maiden name of a friend he knew in 1947, Miss Jane Bennett-Evans, when he came across the photo, which we had used a while ago in Pictures From The Past.

It had been loaned to us by the Rev William Tavernor, who had become vicar of the parishes of Bettws-y-Crwyn and Newcastle, near Clun, at the end of July 1946, and served there until 1950.

His photo showed a party leaving snowbound Newcastle in south Shropshire to go up to the Anchor to get an expectant mother, a Mrs Gardiner, to take her to the hospital at Clun, on March 22, 1947.

Miss Jane Bennett-Evans is on the tractor. The men include "Oliver," George Jones, Ossie Dyke, Abel Hughes, and Ted Gough, who was brother-in-law to Mrs Gardiner.

John recalls: "I do remember that winter, as a farming student working for F.T. Bedell & Son in Bishops Castle, which I also find is still trading today.

"There was snow on the ground for 13 weeks. We were milking 70 cows a day and I did a milk round with a horse and cart. We had sheep out in the fields further out of Bishop's Castle, towards and just over the Welsh border.


"I first met Jane Bennett-Evans when we were both in the Young Farmers Club in Bishop's Castle. I met up with Jane again in 1960. She was now Jane Kenyon, married to John Kenyon, when they were farming near Nanyuki in Kenya, and I was an agricultural engineer working for the Uganda Government.

"I have not been in contact with the Kenyon family at all since 1961 when I left East Africa and continued my career as an agricultural engineer, in various tropical countries, until I returned back to the UK in 1978.

"Thank you for the chance to help confirm my memories."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.


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