Nostalgia by Michael Eagleton

The Marlow Museum, close to Court Garden, have a special Winter display, and you are invited to come down to the opening this Sunday (1st) between 2pm and 4pm when, as well as a warm welcome, mulled wine and mince pies will be handed out, plus extra treats for the kids.

This new display, which is in addition to the ongoing “Story Of Marlow” Exhibition, is entitled “Past Winters In Marlow” and if you have any personal photos of snow, ice and floods in the town please bring them along.

I have been very happy to contribute pictures from my own collection, and just a few examples make up today’s page.

The worst winters on record in the town were 1894/5, 1947, and 1963. 1894/5 was the last occasion that the Thames froze completely across, and there are several poor quality photos of Victorian townspeople taking their life in their hands by walking out on the ice.

In the amazing picture I have chosen even a baby in a pram is pushed out there, with a misty All Saints Church to the rear. Floods were also a problem during the long months of this winter, many of the original photos available are signed by E.Udy. Centre top, Mrs Josey of South Place is getting her children to school in an improvised boat which looks more like a packing case. On the right, at one point the rushing waters of the Thames came right over the lock gates, and a flood marker can be seen at the lock.

1947 came close to matching these conditions, when severe floods followed a sudden thaw of deep snow. Left in the second row of pictures is a scene from the lock towards Quarry Woods, the lone house now being replaced by the Millbank Apartments. Far right is Chapel Street in the same year.

It was not just the lower parts of the town that were affected. Drains were still iced up and could not cope with the huge swell of water coming down the streets from the hills after a sudden thaw.

The centre 1947 main picture (probably carefully posed!) shows shopkeeper and Town Councillor Cyril Chalk taking a break from clearing his pavement, something every shopkeeper was obliged to do or face a fine (inset picture).

1963 comes next, within my memory span. It started snowing heavily on Boxing Day 1962 and continued unabated over the next week. Drifting snow blocked many roads, especially to Lane End where a snow plough can be seen fighting a losing battle.

Lorries did their best to clear the High Street and surrounding roads, and huge mounds of snow were dumped in Higginson Park, not thawing for several months.

Finally, from much more recent times, a couple of Barrie Lea’s colour photographs with less severe conditions.

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum this Sunday, or any Sunday, 2 – 4pm and don’t forget to look out similar pictures you might have.

Contact Michael on or 01628 486571