Friday April 13, 2018
The cold. The road conditions. The railways in chaos, although the idea of frozen water falling from the skies should be fairly well established by now. The power cuts and the daytime television that makes you wish that the power was off again. Yes, few of us will forget the first days of March this year, but in case we are ever inclined to bemoan our lot, here is some footage from six Pathé newsreels of winter motoring on cross ply tyres. And, in many cases, without a heater…
1954 - B-R-R-R! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WUb-qZlM20
54 years ago, Britain was suffering from blizzards from east, although unlike 2018 heated rear windows and even demisters were not exactly common standard fittings on a family saloon. A Morris Oxford MO is stranded at the roadside while an Austin “Three-Way” Box Van appears to have skidded off the highway. We are also treated to a demonstration of how an MO handles when driven on the snow – ‘entertainingly’ would be tactful way of putting it.
1959 – Wolverhamptonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxPoVETZGXg
At first the weather appears to be slightly milder here, with trolley buses, Bedford CAs, Austin A30s, Ford 100E Anglias and a Wolsleley 6/90 (could it be an unmarked police car?) subjected to only a light snowfall. By the time we reach the Consul Mk. I parked outside Wulfrun Hall, conditions have worsened, so it is high time for home, a cup of Horlicks and Wilfred Pickles on the BBC Light Programme. N.B. This film is also proof that traffic lights do look better when mounted on black and white striped poles.
1962 – Winter’s Too Early https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgr9sf1MlaM
November saw an early indication of the ‘Big Winter’ of 1962-1963 with a Morris Minor being pushed to safety and a Standard Ensign battling through a snowbound Scotland. A Humber Super Snipe appears to be struggling, but at least it was equipped with comfortable leather upholstered bench seats, while the only sane form of transport seems to be a tractor.
1962 – Winter Blows Hardest Yet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCNR52Soqdg
Our jolly narrator sounds downright smug, as he commentates from the warmth of his recording booth about a snowbound landscape, with AA motorcycle patrols coming to the aid of stranded Ford Zephyr Mk. II Convertibles. The sight of a crane that overbalanced into a London building is jaw-dropping – mercifully there were no casualties – and my favourite part of the film is of road-gritting, early 1960s fashion, from the back of a lorry.
1963 Goodbye Winter - Zuyder Zee Frozen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdABY2K3WJw
This newsreel does make the prospect of taking a Ford Vedette, Austin A60 Cambridge, VW Beetle or Citroen DS across 60 miles of frozen inland sea look like fun. Personally I would opt for the last-named for travelling over ice, even if it was three feet thick.
1969 – Paris-Winter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbRhup_2jn0
A travelogue style short with any number of quite wonderful vehicles on the streets of Paris within its brief running time. Among the automotive delights are a NSU Ro80 and a very early Ford Capri while from the Renault 16 and the Opel Commodore A Coupe to a snow-covered Autobianchi Bianchina Cabriolet it is as if The Observer’s Book of Automobiles has come to life.