Weather of 1891: far worse than the current conditions
THE severe weather that hit the county over Christmas, disrupting travel plans and cutting power lines, was nothing new for Cornwall.
More than 100 years ago, in 1890-91, another much worse spell of weather hit the region, bringing freezing temperatures and howling winds.
That Christmas also brought its share of problems, but there was worse to come, and in March the 'Great Blizzard of 1891' saw Cornwall completely cut off, with 28 ships lost and many deaths on both sea and land.
In his diary of George Spratt, assistant superintendent of the Porthcurno Telegraph Station, noted: "Unprecedented storm of sleet and snow from the West in late afternoon. Very cold."
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March 10: "Heavy snowstorm (blizzard) continues: all our land lines down in many places – Starkey and Allen walked into Penzance: with bundle of telegrams. Some anxiety felt about their safety – falling snow from roof wrecked our conservatory. One snow drift at Bodellan some 20 feet deep, and our front door and porch snowed up in morning."
March 11: "Great depth of snow from the storm: all lines down and roads impassable – railway communication stopped and mails ceased – on line all day (snowfall having ceased) trying to get some of the lines into shape, but not much success."
March 12: "Snowstorm recommenced and had to suspend work on lines at midday in consequence – Adson of WU [Western Union] walked out on snow shoes in forenoon. Starkey returned – hear the weather has been very general in South of England – no railway communication above Plymouth and only a restricted service below."
March 13: "the storm has been the worst on record – still snowing and sleeting but we managed to start some work on the land lines."
At a time with no internet and more rudimentary transport links, bad weather in 1891 had even more serious consequences than today.
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