The Big Freeze of 1947

Charles George Hibbitt at Princetown during the winter of 1947
Charles George Hibbitt at Princetown during the harsh winter of 1947
working as a telephone inspector.

After yesterday's post which included the picture of my Grandpa Hibbitt inspecting telephone wires, my dad filled me in with a few more details. This is what he had to say...

I was with Dad that day when we went up to Princetown and I took the picture of him holding the old overhead junction route between Tavistock and Princetown with his old box camera. The wires should have been some 30 feet up, but the sheer weight of the ice broke the poles carrying them and were just stumps when we got there. Needless to say Princetown was cut off from the outside world telephonically.

When we returned home, we blackened out the bathroom and "fixed" and "developed" that picture and some others that we had taken that day. (Fixing and developing were done in two trays of acid separately).

The snow/ice was six, yes, six feet thick, and you could walk on it as if it were a pavement. Temperature would be about minus five, with wind chill when it blew. That point would have been about 1400 feet above sea level, higher than Princetown itself. The fir trees in the background were cut down years ago and now appears as a field and of course, all the junction circuits are, and have been, laid underground in the road for many years.

This wasn't the first time Grandpa had encountered the harsh Dartmoor winter. Click the links below to view newspaper cuttings of when his Post Office van got stuck in a snowdrift near Postbridge in 1935.

Link 1
Link 2

They were hard winters, for sure!

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]


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