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Formby: Spot the differences 1888 - 2018

It's the eve of St Hilary's Day

Posted Friday 12 January 11.00 am

Traditionally, tomorrow, St Hilary's day is known as the coldest day of the year.

Frost Close Up

The feast day has gained the reputation of being the coldest day of the year due to past cold events starting on or around this date.

One of the most severe winters in history began around 13 January in 1205, when the Thames in London froze over, and ale and wine turned to solid ice and were sold by weight.

"So began a frost which continued till the two and twentieth day of March, so that the ground could not be tilled; whereof it came to pass that, in summer following a quarter of wheat was sold for a mark of silver in many places of England, which for the more part in the days of King Henry the Second was sold for twelve pence; a quarter of beans or peas for half a mark; a quarter of oats for thirty pence, that were wont to be sold for fourpence....." —Stowe's Chronicle

The worst cold spells in Britain occurred between 1550 and 1750. The climate during this time was known as the Little Ice Age when winters were so cold that the Thames froze over each year. It was not uncommon for the freeze to last over three months, as in the case of the winters of 1683 - 1684 and 1715 - 1716.

During this period the River Thames became the location of the 'Frost Fairs'. The first recorded Frost Fair was held on the frozen river Thames in London in 1608. It had tents, sideshows, food stalls and even included ice bowling!

Interestingly enough, one of my bowling colleagues told me of winters in Formby, many years ago, when he and other young lads could ice-skate across the moss on frozen drainage ditches.

Nowadays, we rarely seem to need gloves, but I can still recall winters in the past when despite gloves, my fingers would ache with the cold. No matter how thick the gloves or how deeply you tried to bury your hands in coat pockets or blow warm air into clenched hands the cold won the battle.

How about you, do you have any memories of cold January days here in Formby?

In the meantime, it look's as if St Hilary is losing her touch this, is the latest forecast from the Met Office

A breezy and cloudy start to the night, with perhaps the odd spot of drizzle in places. A milder night than recently with everywhere remaining frost free. Minimum Temperature 3 °C.

A cloudy day with some brisk winds along the coast and over hills. Patchy light rain through the morning and afternoon will turn more persistent in places during the evening. Maximum Temperature 8 °C.