Here are series of photographs showing what the conditions were
like in Matlock Bath in 1947, when Britain suffered one of
the worst and prolonged snowfalls on record. Above is a picture
of Derby Road, taken from outside the Clifton Cabin opposite
the bottom of Clifton Road. The main road through the village
wasn't totally impassable at this stage as a car is struggling
through the snow, passing the entrance to Holy Trinity Church,
and behind it a lorry is rounding the corner.
In early March 1947 The Times reported that
in the north Midlands frost
had been recorded on every day and night since January 10th.
The main roads in both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire were
blocked and there had been no general thaw in the area since
early January. Snow had fallen, at one period, on 25 successive
The Derbyshire newspapers carried many stories about the
difficulties being experienced, with photographs
of really high snow drifts throughout the county.
The Midland General Bus Company were forced to cancel their
service between Matlock and Alfreton at the beginning of February because of the drifting snow, although
County Council workmen were trying to clear the road.
This route remained troublesome throughout the severe weather.
When the bus service restarted there were chains on the tyres.
Whilst the road conditions were considered to be the worst
of the winter at that stage, the Matlock to Alfreton and
the Cromford to Wirksworth roads were both clear on 7th February
when a heavy fall of snow in the north of the county threatened
the attempts to reach villages that had been cut off for
Matlock's quarrymen, who had been out of work for a fortnight,
were by then helping to clear the snow. They were additional
to the 3,000 Council workers from across the county who were
equipped with shovels, snow ploughs and bulldozers.
Further assistance came from both prisoners of war and soldiers
who were brought in to help. One gang of snow clearers managed
to cut their way through to Riber Castle so that Ministry
of Food lorries could reach the supplies still stored there.
number of hamlets and villages, including Riber, were still
cut off on 10 February and the roads from Matlock to both
Chesterfield and Alfreton were again impassable.
Twelve days later a number of roads in the Matlock area were
blocked once more and buses were unable to run on some of
the more hilly routes. It was proving impossible to deliver
mail to some of the isolated hamlets and farms in the district.
Although few homes had telephoned installed in 1947, more
than a hundred faults were reported in Matlock, Matlock Bath
and the surrounding district and elsewhere in the county
there were reports of rabbits chewing the fallen telegraph
Things were to get worse. On the night of 25-26 February
blizzards again swept the county, with high winds causing
drifting which yet again blocked the roads and cut off villages.
The snowfalls varied from four to eight inches but the wind
created drifts averaging three feet in depth. This blizzard
was by far the worst of the winter in the Matlocks and householders
woke up on 26th to find they needed to tunnel their way out
through drifts four feet deep. In some districts milk collections
from the farms were impossible, which in turn would have
affected deliveries to households, assuming the milkmen could
This was a time when many household commodities, such as
bread, milk and coal, were delivered to directly to the door.
The lack of such deliveries would have been a real hardship.
Below are more private family photographs of Portland
House on Clifton Road taken by Cyril Edmonds and another
of High Tor by Frank Clay, showing more of how the 1947 blizzards
affected Matlock Bath.
Clifton Road, to the right of Portland House, seems
to have been totally blocked by the snow and
there is a drift against the garden wall of the house.
The two buildings on the far left are the Bath Terrace Hotel,
by then part of the New Bath.
Between the hotel buildings and Portland House is the Mews,
which at that time included two first floor flats.
The snow reached the bottom of the windows and blocked
the front door.
This view of the side of the house shows deep snow outside
the [former] Bath Terrace Hotel.
It had drifted against the side garden wall of Portland House,
covering a pile of debris, and
in some places reached the top.
The fountain in the gardens was encased in snow.
The drifts had formed an amazing snow sculpture.
The final photograph shows a well wrapped up young man walking
along Dale Road, with a snow covered High Tor behind him.
Famous British Winters (an external link)