The great snowstorm of 1908 and a disaster in the Solent

Lymington's great snowstorm of 1908 - and a disaster in the Solent

On 25 April 1908 a blizzard caused a terrible collision between Lymington and Yarmouth and snow covered the New Forest

These photographs were taken in Lymington during the great snowstorm of 25 April 1908 when snow accumulated several feet deep in Lymington. The blizzard evoked memories of a previous cold snap in January and February 1881 when the South Coast experienced large snowfalls.

Lymington had also suffered from plummetting temperatures from Christmas Day 1739 throughout January 1740. All trade and work was impossible in such extreme temperatures; a bowl of boiling strong punch changed to solid ice within eight minutes, spittle froze before it reached the ground and bread could not be cut unless placed by a fire for almost an hour. These dire conditions led to the Mayor and Burgesses calling a meeting on 16 January 1740 "and agreed to distribute to the poor of the parish the sum of ten pounds, on account of the severity of the season of the year, in bread and meat."

1908 snowstorm Lymington High Street

Buildings in 1908 from left to right: No 84 Mr F Dale, tailor and habit maker; No 85 Mr AC Last, pastry cook and confectioner (complete with refreshment rooms); No 86 Mr T Gray's saddlery business and Mr AE Woodforrd's toy shop At No 88 was the Music Saloon founded in 1789 by George Philip Klitz, a former bandsman in the Flintshire Regiment, who sold pianos, other instruments and sheet music (plus radios from the 1920s and televisions from 1952!)

1908 snowstorm in Lymington Hampshire

1908 snowstorm Lymington harbour

On the same day out in the Solent between Yarmouth and Lymington a terrible disaster occurred when the SS St Paul collided with HMS Gladiator. Some ratings below decks died, while one sailor swam ashore - then promptly swam back to the ship after forgetting his cashbook and pay! 

1908 HMS Gladiator collision 600x400

HMS Gladiator HMS Gladiator, a second-class cruiser, had been launched at Portsmouth Dockyard on 18 December 1896. She was raised in November 1908 and sold the following August.

SS St Paul in Southampton Drydock after 1908 collisionThe steam ship St Paul was not so badly damaged and was removed to Southampton docks where she underwent repairs. 



*Lymington: A pictoral past - Brian J Down
Lymington in old picture postcards - Brian J Down
An Album of Old Lymington and Milford on Sea - Chris Hobby

Find more Lymington and New Forest history features here


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