The Winter of 1947

Rose Hill Park - St Moritz of St Helier

By Ted Blowers

Photo:Walking in the snow

Walking in the snow

Donated by Ted Blowers

Photo:Transport came to a standstill

Transport came to a standstill

Donated by Ted Blowers

The winter of 1947 was indeed a cold one. I remember well the huge slide that developed at Rose Hill park. There were so many people using it that it became glace ice. People were going down it on ice skates and we kids were going down on all manner of sleds. Some had home-made ones with wooden runners - most had no steering device, you just had to stick your foot out and hope to get a bit of drag to pull you to the left or right. We also purloined milk crates when the milkman wasn’t looking. The best ones came from the United  Dairies. They had handles rounded at the corners and if you could get two and tie them together, they made a great sled which wasn’t too hard to steer. There were kids going down on all sorts and once you were on your way there was no getting off or avoiding anyone who was in the way. It was a wonder there weren’t some serious accidents. There was a piece of Anderson shelter which was the side and one half of the top. If you have never seen parts of an Anderson shelter, the sides were like a letter J turned upside down - the curved bit being the top. They were very heavy about one 8th of an inch thick, made of corrugated galvanized steel. There were dozens of kids riding this thing. You could probably get six to eight on at a time. How they got it back to the top to me is a mystery. They must have had some bigger kids with them. One of the urban legends that refers to that piece of shelter is that someone lost a couple of fingers when it went over a bump, came down and they were hanging on the side - but how true that is I don’t know. What I do know is that as the track was used more it gradually got longer and longer until we were right up to the fences that bordered the park. Apart from the noise, which the owner of the fence wasn’t too impressed with, it was the eventual smashing into his fence with the piece of Anderson shelter, that caused the constabulary to intervene and that was the end of that.

The other thing that has never failed to amuse me in my twilight years is how in the winters which were colder in those days, most years if we didn't have snow we would have frost so thick that you could make a slide quite easily which was nearly always made on the pavement. The more you slid, the longer they got and the bigger run up you would take to go. This had its own variations - some more accomplished sliders would crouch down in a squat position (this was called little man), some would try one leg (this usually ended in disaster). Great would be the outrage when we would come back from school when some adult had come out and put salt or ashes on our slide, or sometimes they would do it in front of us of course. As an adult, I can see the danger, particularly as there was a blackout. We would just go home when it got dark with no thought for the poor unfortunate that might be coming home from work or the pictures, suddenly finding his legs going like Bambi when he or she hit the slide. The bit that makes me smile is that we would never make a slide in the road in case the horses slipped - wonderful logic.

This page was added by Ted Blowers on 12/09/2010.
Comments about this page

Ah! I remember this sledge run well. One of the high points in my childhood. I often relate this to people now a days when they complain of the terrible weather we get in winter times. Carshalton Park has nothing on a snowy winters day that compares with Rosehill in '47. I wonder what would be the attitude to the fun we had then and the implements we used to obtain it by the mamby pamby spoil sports of today. I'm sure we became hazard aware then and that's why there weren't the accidents, except no self respecting child had ungrazed knees. I'm sure the same environment would produce a great many accidents today. For instance I went to school on my own from 5 years of age and needed to cross one main road, Bishopsford. This was a common experience in those days and I'm sure experiences like this caused us all to adopt a more sensible attitude as we got older. Never mind, I'm sounding like an old man better get back in my box On the pont of slides and their growing with use. At what was called The Holy Family School in Montacute road the way out of school was in Montacute Road but the way in was in Middleton Road which placed us in the playground. In 1947 there was a slide from the end of the entrance alley right down to the seniors boys entrance, some 50-75yards and it was in the region of 10-15feet wide. The staff never interfered with this slide and I don't recall any accidents unless it was by the staff in our absence. I wonder what chances there are of a child today having that wonderful experience, probably none

By NibWest
On 16/09/2010

Hi Ted, I must have been with you over Rosehill with the Anderson shelter 'sledge'. I've written about that experience as well....looking back it sure was dangerous... but fun. I cannot recall either how we got that sledge back up the hill.

By Ray Crawley
On 14/01/2012

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