Saturday 27th January 1940. Snow fell, followed by more snow, Sunday was much the same, interrupted only by the sound of cast iron gutters cracking under the strain. Monday was no better, not a bus turned up. The road to Blackburn was completely blocked, and the only way to work was via the railway station – that’s if a train turned up. At least the fire was roaring in the waiting rooms.
A full week later and the buses finally arrived, but travelling on them wouldn’t make you feel any better off. The view from an upstairs window was snow – it was impossible to see over it.
Food shortages occurred, and fuel was suddenly unavailable, this wasn't just in Rishton, but throughout the entire Country.
In all 22 million gallons of water were lost through burst pipes during the freeze up.
A report was made by Councillors Sanderson and Leeming, the Clerk and the Surveyor, concerning the question of snow cutting on the top roads, on the 5th February 1940. The clerk drew attention to Section 26 of the Highways Act, 1835.Resolved that in view of the expense involved the matter should be left in abeyance for the present, and reconsidered at the Building and Highways Meeting on Thursday 8th February. At this meeting the surveyor was instructed to proceed with snow cutting to provide a traffic route through all top roads.
The surveyor reported that members of the Home Guard had volunteered on the 13th February 1941, to assist in clearing the roads following the snowfall on Saturday 18th January. The surveyor was instructed to convey to the Officer Commanding the Home Guard the Councils appreciation of the services rendered in the emergency.
The Council Surveyor reported receipt of a letter dated 6th November 1942 from the Ministry of War Transport regarding Snow Clearing of Unclassified Roads forming principal approaches to war establishments. Resolved that the Surveyor be authorised to inform the Ministry that this authority is prepared to undertake during the winter of 1942-43 the priority clearance of Unclassified Roads forming the principal approaches to war establishments in accordance with the schedule accompanying the letter and upon the terms therein stated.
The Council Surveyor reported that the makers of the Snow Plough had fitted the necessary attachments to the Council's wagon on the 10th December 1942, and that the plough was now ready for use.
Thanks of the Council were expressed to P. C. Wareing and Mr. J. Cartledge for their work in the snowstorm on the night of the 29th January 1945, which enabled the main roads to be kept open for traffic.
Attention was drawn to the efficient way in which the Surveyor and the members of his staff had dealt with the roads during the severe weather on the 13th February 1947, and it was Resolved That the thanks of the Committee be extended to them for this work.
The 2nd of February 2008 saw the worse snowfall in the South East for 18 years, but not in Rishton. An inch of snow was all that managed to get across the Pennines overnight, leaving the East coast with up to 15 inches of snow to cope with.
On the 17th December 2009, snow started falling once more across the district. A white Christmas was seen or the first time in many years. Snow fell once more on New years day, giving another two inches on top of previous snowfalls, the temperature during all this time hardly raising above 0 degrees.
By the 5th January 2010, another 5 inches fell giving over 8 inches on the ground. Overnight frosts down to -18 degrees compounded the situation.
Trains ran late, buses sporadically, and children where given the week off school once more for the first week of the year. Panic buying took place, with bread and milk being the first to run out daily, that's if the deliveries even made it through the roads with deliveries.
The forecast was for this weather to carry on for a further two weeks, making that winter one of the worse on record for Rishton.
Rishton remembered by Kathleen Broderick
Rishton Urban District Council Minutes