A Short History of the Village of Sproxton in the Winter of 1947

Written by Stanley Birch

On January 17th we were on a bus trip to a pantomime in Leicester. On the way home the snows came down. We literally became snowbound with drifts of up to 20 feet high. You could stand up and touch the pots on the telegraph poles – it was that high – and our isolation began. We continued to be isolated for EIGHT WEEKS – until an effort was made with the ironstone bulldozer and men with shovels made a way through to Waltham and were successful in getting to Sproxton. The first person to be let through was the council house rent collector! This allowed my pregnant sister who  was expecting her first child to get through to Melton Hospital. The breakthrough lasted for just 3 days and then the blizzard and snow was back and we then endured a further 2 weeks of isolation. With 13 small farmers there was no shortage of milk. The pigs had a marvellous diet on our farms. We had the original 3 churns of frozen milk which had to be chopped out with a crowbar as the churns didn’t match the ones on the lorry, which only lasted 3 days to start with. Baths and dolly tubs were utilised but with no lorry fed back to stock. We had a separate one in working order so we could make butter to meet a big demand! We had two bakers – one at Sproxton Mill half way between Sproxton and Saltby. The men from the village walked with sledges to bring in bread from the other baker 4 miles away at Wymondham. Our doctor who was Dr. Atkinson of Waltham visited on horseback during this time. Luckily we had no piped water or electricity so priority had to be given to trying to keep the village pumps from freezing. Villagers had stored up sufficient fuel for an ordinary winter so they fared reasonably well. Most people kept 2 pigs – one to kill and one to sell. No pig was killed until it was at least 20 stones with plenty of fat for cooking. Salted hams and sides were plentiful. Most small farmers had poultry so eggs and meat were available. Sheep had to be dug out of drifts and were located by breath holes through the snow. Our shire mare was stranded and we took
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