WE all remember harsh winters - but does anyone recall that of 1962/3 when locals took to the ice on the frozen lake in Lister Park?

Long-time T&A reader Ray Banyard submitted a number of pictures that he took of the unusual scene, with people skating and sliding across the frozen water.

“People had brought along ice skates and were skating around enjoying themselves on the lake,” says Ray. “People were allowed on the ice and snow was even cleared from the frozen surface to allow people to skate on it.

“It was quite a sight. Other people were walking across the lake.”

The winter of 1962–63 - known as the Big Freeze of 1963 - was one of the coldest winters on record in Britain, Temperatures plummeted and lakes and rivers froze.

On January 22 1963 a car was driven across the frozen Thames at Oxford. Across the country icicles hung from many roof gutterings, some as long as three feet.

Also in January 283 workers had to be rescued by helicopters from the Royal Air Force station at Fylingdales on the North York Moors, where they had been snowbound for several days.

In Ray’s photographs some people are shown standing around in groups chatting - clearly confident that the ice is sufficiently thick not to give way under them.

Ray explains how two park staff were present to stand on the ice and keep an eye out for any potential problems. “I believe they were there as a safety team - I can remember their names, Paul Springthorpe and Richard Hanson.”

In the background, beyond the trees, the bandstand can be seen. The shelter to the left is sited in the ‘blind’ or sensory garden.

“It was a very, very cold winter. People were enjoying themselves on the lake, which had frozen solid,” says Ray, who worked at Lister Park. He joined in 1961 aged 15 as an apprentice gardener and stayed until 1970.

Another of his photographs shows Cartwright Hall standing in a sea of snow, while a third takes in the far-reaching view across the city from the hall towards Shipley and Wrose.

The winter of 1962-63 remains the coldest since at least 1895 in all meteorological districts of the UK except Scotland North, where the winters of 1978-79 and 2009-10 were marginally colder.

Among Ray’s photographs is an image of ducks swimming in an area of Lister Park lake that has been cleared of ice to allow them on to the water. Families are standing alongside the open water no doubt keeping the ducks happy with a few handfuls of food.

Sports were disrupted in the winter of 1962–63. Football matches in the English and Scottish leagues suffered because of the severe weather.

Some matches in the FA Cup with tie scores were rescheduled ten or more times. Matches in the 5th and 6th rounds scheduled for 16 February and 9 March were played on 16 March and 30 March.

A board known as the Pools Panel was established to adjudicate postponed matches to provide the football pool results. From December 8 to February 16, Bolton Wanderers played no competitive matches. Rugby suffered the same fate.

The thaw set in during early March 1963, with March 6 being the first morning of the year without any frost anywhere in Britain. The temperatures soon soared to 17 °C (62.6 °F) and the remaining snow rapidly disappeared.

Ray has also sent in photographs he took almost a year previously, in February 1962, in Lister Park, of damage caused by gales. “A number of trees were blown over by the strength of the wind, and their roots exposed,” he recalls. “Some were blown across paths. They were later sawn up and taken away by park staff.”

The Meteorological Office produced a report ‘Gales in Yorkshire in February 1962’, which details the widespread damage across the region.

‘February 1962 will linger in the memory of many people in Britain, particularly those in North-East England and in Scotland, because of the exceptionally stormy period which began on the llth.’ It says. ‘On that day a deep depression moving rapidly from near Iceland to southern Norway brought gales to the whole of the northern half of the British Isles. These winds continued strong for about three days. Then, after a temporary lull, another storm of equal severity followed on the 15th and 16th.’

‘Both gales did considerable damage to both property and trees. The damage caused by the earlier gale was widespread...the later gale caused a great deal of damage in Sheffield and Leeds, with more than half the houses there suffering damage.’

It continued:‘The main area of severe tree damage lies in a narrow zone from near Sheffield, through Leeds, Harrogate and Ripon to Richmond, the zone probably ranging from about eight to 15 miles in width over most of its length.’

Around 10,000 trees fell on the Harewood Estate as a result of the gale of February 11-12, 1962, and a similar number fell, or were badly damaged, in another gale four days later ‘giving a total of about 217,000 cubic feet of timber affected,’ it says.