North Middlesex Chronicle, 10 February 1940
The snowfall at Wood Green last week caused great losses to shopkeepers, and never has there been weather so bitter.
But underfoot the conditions were not so bad as last year, when the thaw was more rapid, and the icy slush was deeper and remained longer, but still it was hard to imagine anything worse than the streets during the week and the black-out made the night hideous. It was quite like a Polar journey to even take a letter to the post, for in the dark one was sure to fall into the piles of snow three feet deep at the roadside.
Water pipes burst by the hundred, and plumbers were snowed under with orders and calls. They struggled gallantly but the pipes burst more quickly that they could be mended. Many householders found to their sorrow that frozen pipes could leak.
When the thaw came there were thunders of snow falling from the roofs.
Householders speedily found their burst pipes were not the only trouble for there was soon evidence of leaky roofs, as loose and broken slates were brought down by the falling snow, but it was impossible to get the roofs repaired.
Thaw and frost alternated for days on end, and generally speaking there has never been a winter so bitter and burdensome.
Evening excursions were abandoned and all unnecessary trips out of doors were put off, and even the cinemas which usually thrive on bad weather were poorly patronised.
Councils and snow clearance
It was not till towards the end of last week that the Councils got busy in snow clearance. For some reason Councils will not clear snow away till the thaw sets in, and during weekends work ceases by common consent. Snow should be cleared while it is still falling, otherwise an undercoat of ice forms which cannot be swept or shovelled, and has to be chipped, and this is a long process. If the streets were swept directly after a heavy snowfall the process would be much simplified.
Another point and a favourite one with Borough Councils is that residents should clear their own fronts, but this is no remedy at all. Apart from the fact that those at home during daylight are women and children who cannot cope with heavy work, it is a fact that there are too many vacant houses and too many corner houses with fronts 200 yards long and more to make much difference.
Better system required
The real problem of snow clearance is that the Councils cannot get the men at the time required, owing to “office hours” even more to the fact that the unemployed are by mo means eager for the work, as every shilling they earn is deducted from their dole and so they are working for nothing. They should of course be paid extra for snow clearance and also be provided with rubber boots for the job.
The whole thing should be simplified and tackled in a proper manner in order to prevent the Councils from breaking their contract with the residents to keep the streets clean. By the system we have indicated and which in fact was followed in times gone by, the snow could be cleared from both roads and paths in a very short time and it would cost less to clear the whole town several times by machine-broom than it now does to make a reluctant and partial clearance of stretches where vociferous complaint is likely to be made.
Pipes burst at the Town Hall and all the offices belonging to the Borough Council were afflicted in this way.
There were burst pipes at the new flats at Nightingale Road and tenants have complained of damage to furniture through falling ceilings.
In Myddleton Road on Wednesday about 30 men were at work with shovels and brooms, and vans took the snow away but they only did the top half of the road, the shopping centre. A week later piles of dirty snow still remained.