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Exeter – winter of 1962/63

Photographs by Michael T J Wride

Page added 12th January 2014

The winter of 1962/63 is remembered by many as one of the worst in Britain, with deep snow in places, and low temperatures lasting for 10 weeks. Michael T J Wride documented the winter with his 35mm camera–the ice on the river, the traffic negotiating the streets and enjoying the snow while it lasted. The photographs are interesting, not only for the weather conditions, but because they show parts of Exeter that were changing: a half built Debenhams, the quayside before gentryfication, St Mary Major 10 years before demolition and of course, cars and buses that have long gone to the scrapyard in the sky. All photos are copyright Michael T J Wride and should not be used on other websites.

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West Front of the Cathedral and carsWest Front of the Cathedral and cars
Cathedral Yard was a car park for many years. Even in the snow, it was busy. The elm trees were killed by Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s.

St Mary Major ChirchSt Mary Major Chirch
St Mary Major Church was in front of the West Front, and adjacent to the Three Gables. It was demolished in 1973, when the Roman bath house was discovered beneath.


The Hooker statue on Cathedral GreenThe Hooker statue on Cathedral Green
Covered in snow, Richard Hooker looks towards St Martin's Church.

High StreetHigh Street
It looks like the bus has just driven through a blizzard.

Bedford StreetBedford Street
Te entrance to the old Princesshay and the post office in the distance.

South StreetSouth Street
The tyre marks in the snow indicate that South Street was not easy to drive in the snow..


Queen StreetQueen Street
Queen Strret is quiet in the snow. The market still has shops on each side of the main entrance–shop spaces are going to return when the 'so called' Guidhall restaurant zone opens.

Fore StreetFore Street
Not a street that would be easy for a double decker bus in the snow.


Exe Bridge and a frozen riverExe Bridge and a frozen river
Snow covers the the ice on the frozen River Exe.

Cycling up the frozen riverCycling up the frozen river
Cycling up the centre of the frozen river with the Royal Naval Motor Torpedo Boat 616, which was the HQ of the Exeter Sea Cadets for several years. It was towed to Dawlish Warren in the following summer, stripped and set alight. The copper nails were retrieved from the ashes.


Swans on the iceSwans on the ice
The quayside towards the Port Royal was far more industrial before 1990. I can remember a corrugated iron fence around a scrapyard, while the cellars were not a tourist attraction.

A frozen Trews WeirA frozen Trews Weir
The country suffered below freezing temperatures for several weeks–the weir froze solid.


The Port Royal was not short of iceThe Port Royal was not short of ice
Walking acorss the river to the Port Royal. These two were not old enough for whiskey on the rocks.

The canal basinThe canal basin
The apartments that form one side of Piazza Terracina were not built ntil the late 80s. There were oil storage tanks and railway sidings at the head of the basin.


Walking the Exe by the ferryWalking the Exe by the ferry
What we know as Butt's Ferry was just 'the ferry' back in 1963. The ferry was built by Messrs., Holman & Son of Exmouth at a cost of £220 in 1960.

Cycling past the quayCycling past the quay
In the summer ducks and swans paddle by the quay, in the winter, a cyclist peddles past.


Alphington ChurchAlphington Church
It would appear that few cars have passed through Alphington when Michael took this photo.

Alphington GreenAlphington Green
Alphington Green from Chudleigh Road.


Magdalen RoadMagdalen Road
The Magdalen Road shopping precinct towards the St Leornards Road and College Road junction.

Four boys in a bathFour boys in a bath
Despite the cold, many enjoyed the winter. Here, an old zinc bath makes a good sled in Bull Meadow. The Eye Hospital is in the background.

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