Thursday December 21, 2017
Or, how to motor in the snow with cross-ply tyres, a six-volt electrical system, and wearing your stoutest hat, scarf and overcoat…
SNOW IN LONDON 1955
Some newsreel footage makes me, and I suspect many others, feel glad to live in an era when cars are expected to be fitted with heaters as a matter of course. Just look at this silent footage of a 1955 winter, where the solitary vacuum-powered wiper on a Fordson E83E pick-up can barely cope with the snow and where Londoner queue to travel home on an unheated RT double-decker.
SNOWBOUND BRITAIN 1955
Meanwhile, out in the countryside, you really would need a car as formidable as a Humber Super Snipe if you were driving amid a blizzard.
In February 1956, the East Coast of Britain from Yorkshire to Kent was afflicted by snow and this footage commences with a worse-for-wear Ford Zephyr-Six being towed off-screen. Tractors and a local authority Karrier Bantam attempt to clear the roads while an intrepid – and very cold – AA patrolman arranges some emergency road signage.
During the ‘worst winter in a hundred years of weather records,’ an Austin A60 Cambridge carefully negotiates a minor road while a Ford Prefect 100E and a Vauxhall Velox E-Type remain snowbound, as do several buses. Not that the weather discouraged Alec Issigonis.
One of my favourite images of the great designer is of his piloting a twin-engine Moke prototype through the snow. With such an incredible off-road vehicle, what did the lack of a roof and heating in sub-zero temperatures matter?
SNOW BLOCKED ROADS 1966
Try to imagine being stuck in your car for nine hours – an experience that befell many of the drivers in this Movietone footage of Stainmore in the Pennines. Amongst the becalmed vehicles are a Vauxhall Cresta PB, a Triumph Spitfire, a VW Type 2, a Humber Sceptre Mk. II, an MG 1100 and several commercial vehicles of a by-gone age. A fascinating vista of 1966-vintage motoring; so long as you did not actually experience it…
SNOW REPORT 1978
A report from the twilight of the British newsreel era with a Ford Capri Mk. I braving the lanes around Yeovil. A further reason for including this report from nearly four decades ago is the opportunity to see an RN Range Rover ambulance in action.
SNOW SCENES 1979
We could not have a blog about newsreels without at least one voiceover from the great Patrick Allen, and here he commentates on Audi 100 C1s, Ford Granada Ghia Mk. Is and Hillman Avengers braving the elements – plus a Morris Marina TC and a Mazda 818. Sometimes, cinema film can make one feel very old…
SNOW IN LONDON 1981
Not a newsreel per se but I could not could resist this Thames Television report from 36 years ago, with police Rover SD1s supervising an ADO16 Mk. IIIs being pushed to safety, a stricken Citroen GS Estate and an irate motorist in a Morris 1300 Traveller. The North Circular is populated by Poliski-Fiat 125ps and Opel Mantas while pedestrians thumb lifts from a Datsun Cherry. The camera even captures the moment when a Bedford Chevanne cannons into a broken-down Ford Cortina Mk. IV Estate; fortunately, neither driver was hurt.
SNOW SCENES 1981
And some more footage of the snow that hit the UK at the end of 1981, including some now incredibly rare (and collectable); an early Ford Escort Mk. III, a VW Scirocco Mk. I and even a Fiat 132 to mention just a few models. And that is before I mention the third-generation Austin Allegro, the Ford Cortina Mk. V and – one performs a double-take – a Renault 30.