Back in the 1950s there was little forewarning of sudden changes in the weather. I was at secondary school then, travelling daily along with many others to Monmouth, some eleven miles distant from my home in Ross-on-Wye. At that time the A40 didn’t have the smooth gradients that it has today – there were two steep pitches on the outward journey, near Pencraig and near Whitchurch, where the road climbed from the Wye, followed by gentle descents towards Monmouth.
That afternoon we weren’t concentrating well on the lessons: instead we were looking out of the window, watching large snowflakes falling increasingly thickly. As we left school at the end of the day we could see that the snow was not yet settling on Monmouth’s streets. No problem getting on the 4.05pm bus home, nor with the journey home – at least, until the bus got to the top of the steep downhill slope just short of Whitchurch, where it stopped. By now the snow had begun to settle. Cars were getting stuck on the hill, sliding all over the road, and the bus couldn’t get past them safely. A number of us got out of the bus and helped to push the cars to the top of the slope, from where they would have had no difficulty in continuing to Monmouth or points further beyond. It was fun doing the pushing despite our trousers getting spattered by snow as the cars’ back wheels spun. When we had cleared the hill of struggling cars, the bus had no problem with the descent, and we all got home albeit rather later than usual.
In school assembly a few days later the Head read out a letter he had received from one of the car drivers, which thanked the pupils from the bus for helping to get him on his way and enclosed ten shillings as a contribution to school funds. The real satisfaction, though, lay in the exertion at the time rather than in the Head’s praise for our boost to the school’s reputation.
Submitted by Mantz Yorke, 70, Manchester