Shropshire Star

Six archive photos showing how people coped when a winter freeze crashed the power supply

Spring is just around the corner, but turn back the clock to this time in 1947 and folk were still in the deep freeze and facing immense post-war hardships.

Searching for coal at Bentley Common in February 1947.

While the severity of that winter is still remembered with a shiver by those who lived through it, the prolonged spell of snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures was not the only problem folk faced, as the misery was aggravated by a nationwide fuel crisis as the creaking energy supply network fell apart.

Back then homes largely relied on coal for heating, and power stations were coal-fired, but heavy snow blocked railways and roads stopping supplies getting through. Added to that, Britain started the winter with only 11 million tons of coal in stock, compared to 14 million the previous year, and production at the mines simply couldn't cope with demand which ran far higher than expectations.

As the fuel crisis continued from January into February Manny Shinwell, the Minister of Fuel and Power, was forced to take drastic action, imposing domestic power cuts lasting five hours a day and other restrictions.

Many people were temporarily thrown out of work in a vast shutdown of industry which was estimated to have affected over a million workers across the Midlands.

The BBC closed down its television service and the Third Programme, the precursor to Radio Three.

Pilot Officer Kenneth Smith, of Beckbury, and Miss Gwen Pritchard, of Wolverhampton, cutting their wedding cake by candlelight.