Norman Swindlehurst - Winter


The weather was an important concern for hill farmers in the Dales and there are many references to harsh winters in 1917, 1947 and 1979.

Norman Swindlehurst describes the winter of 1917 and the loss of lambs and sheep. His sister managed to save many lambs through hand-rearing and there is one description of the heat from a steaming horse midden being used to resucitate a starving lamb.

Jim describes the harsh winter of 1947 when in many areas the snow lay six foot deep for eleven weeks, and communities were cut off and isolated. Livestock was buried under heavy snowfalls and many sheep remained buried for weeks without water. When the sheep were found many were still alive—but only just. In a harsh winter, the lack of water supplies for livestock was a severe problem and many died of dehydration. The bodies were given to Travellers who pulled the wool from the sheep and buried the bodies in a large pit.

Jim Smith describes the difficulties of continuing a milk round in the harsh winter of 1947, when walls had to be pulled down to allow vehicles through.

A painting of the Dales in winter

A painting of the Dales in winter, © W.R. Mitchell