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Title: The Blizzard in the West - Being as Record and Story of the Disastrous Storm which - Raged Throughout Devon and Cornwall, and West Somerset, - On the Night of March 9th, 1891
Author: Unknown
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Blizzard in the West - Being as Record and Story of the Disastrous Storm which - Raged Throughout Devon and Cornwall, and West Somerset, - On the Night of March 9th, 1891" ***

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    THE
    Blizzard in the West:
    BEING
    A Record and Story of the Disastrous Storm
    WHICH RAGED THROUGHOUT
    Devon and Cornwall, and West Somerset,
    On the Night of March 9th, 1891.


    WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.


    COPYRIGHT.
    _The right of reproduction is reserved._


    London:
    SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO., LIMITED,
    PATERNOSTER ROW.

    Devonport:
    A. H. SWISS, PRINTER AND STATIONER,
    111 & 112 FORE STREET.



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CONTENTS.


    CHAPTER
         I. INDICATIONS AND OBSERVATIONS.
        II. THE BLIZZARD.
       III. ON THE RAILWAYS.
        IV. AT SEA.
         V. IN TOWN AND COUNTRY.
        VI. IN PARK AND FOREST.
       VII. AFTER THE STORM.--THE WATER FAMINE IN THE THREE TOWNS.
      VIII. SOME STRANGE EXPERIENCES.



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PREFACE.


The record of the Blizzard of 1891 was undertaken in response to a
generally expressed desire on the part of a large number of residents
in the Western Counties.

It would have been impossible to compile the work, imperfect as it is,
without the assistance and co-operation of the editor and staff of the
_Western Morning News_, who have been most active in its promotion.
Assistance has also been kindly rendered by the editor and staff of the
_Western Daily Mercury_.

Thanks are also largely due to many others, who, besides furnishing us
with interesting details and views, have offered us every facility for
obtaining information.

Valuable particulars in some instances have been afforded by Dr.
Merrifield, of Plymouth, and Mr. Rowe, public librarian, of Devonport,
who has also sent some of the views appearing in this book.

To the artistic photographic skill of Messrs. Heath and Son, of George
Street, Plymouth, Messrs. Denney and Co., of Exeter and Teignmouth, and
Messrs. Valentine and Son, of Teignmouth, we are indebted for several
of our illustrations. To the amateur photographers in various parts
of the West who so kindly sent photographic views we tender our best
thanks, and regret that space did not permit us to use a larger number.

Much necessarily remains untold, but we have endeavoured to depict a
very remarkable event as fully as the pages at our disposal permitted.

    _Devonport, April, 1891._



    NESTLÉ'S
    FOOD
    A Complete and Perfect Substitute for
    Mothers' Milk.
    *****
    OBTAINED THE GOLD MEDAL
    AT THE
    PARIS EXHIBITION, 1889.



THE BLIZZARD IN THE WEST


CHAPTER I.

INDICATIONS AND OBSERVATIONS.


On the morning of the 9th of March, 1891, when inhabitants of the
three westernmost counties in England set about preparing for the
routine duties of daily life, nothing seemed to indicate that, with
the approach of nightfall, the gravest atmospheric disturbance of
the century--in that part of the world, at all events--would come to
spread terror and destruction throughout town and country. The month,
so far, had not been a gentle one. Following in the footsteps of a
memorably genial February, March had been somewhat harsh and cold,
without yielding the rain that was by this time greatly needed. There
were rumours of "a change of some sort," of an approaching "fall of
something," and other vaticinations of the same familiar character
floating about, but in the west country these wise sayings fall so
thick and fast and frequently as to possess little more significance
than the most oft-repeated household words. When the day drew on,
and signs of a rising gale were uncomfortably apparent on every
hand, recollections of a promised storm from the Observatories of
the United States began to be awakened, but it was found on sifting
the matter, that if this were the disturbance indicated, it had come
about a fortnight too soon. Students of "Old Moore's Almanack" were
better informed, and it is probable that if this ill wind blew good
to anybody, it was in the shape of discovery that by virtue of the
truth of his forecast, a favourite and venerable prophet was deserving
of honour at the hands of the people of his own country. Unhappily,
however, there is nothing to show that advantage had been taken of this
warning, in any practical sense. On the contrary, the blast came down
swiftly upon a community that was almost wholly unprepared to receive
it, and one of the saddest parts of the story of its fury will be the
account of the devastation wrought among the unprotected flocks and
herds.

On referring to the remarks on the subject of the weather published in
the local press, and obtained from official scientific authorities, it
will be found that at an early hour on the morning of March 9th the
barometer had been rising slightly, and that the day "promised to be
fine." Other accounts hinted at the probability of some snow showers,
and snow was reported as falling heavily in North Wales, but north and
north-easterly winds, light and moderate, were anticipated. Nothing
was said about a great fall of snow, accompanied by a hurricane fierce
enough to send it down in powder, without even allowing time for the
formation of snow-flakes.

According to one Plymouth correspondent, whose observations are both
reliable and valuable, the only intimation of the coming storm was
by the barometer falling to 29·69 on the evening of the 9th, with
an E.N.E. wind. The hygrometer was thick and heavy--a sign of rough
weather. During the night the glass fell to 29·39. On Tuesday it fell
to 29·180. Another account says that it has not, perhaps, occurred in
the experience of many, except those who have known tropical storms,
that the movement in an ordinary column barometer might be seen during
the progress of a gale. Such, however, was possible in the case under
notice. Though the glass had been falling during the day, yet there
were no indications of any serious disturbance of the weather. On many
occasions there have been greater falls in the barometer than on this
occasion. When this storm was at its height, the barometer at Devonport
was observed to be at 29·27, but in the course of half an hour pressure
was indicated by 29·20, the rise being, of course, a considerable and
sudden one. Within an hour of this register being made, a fall had
again occurred to 29·25, and even a little below this was marked, at
which point the column remained until the early hours of the morning.

It is clear that during the whole progress of the storm the temperature
was never very low. The great cold came from the strength of the wind.
During the storm, and in the course of the severe days that followed,
not more than five or six degrees of frost were registered, and on one
day of the week, when there was snow on every hand, the thermometer
never rose higher than freezing point. The wind, however, was terrific,
its maximum force during the night being 10, and 12 is the highest
possible. To this extraordinary velocity is due the fact that the
visitation is best describable by the term "blizzard." With a less
violent wind, there would have been a great fall of snow, as great
probably as that of January, 1881, when difficulties and disasters
painfully comparable with those of the present year were spread
broadcast over not only the western portion, but the whole of England,
but it would have been a snowstorm and not a blizzard, and many of
the phenomenal aspects of the visitation under notice would have
been absent. In the course of the present narrative many remarkable
effects due to the powdery nature of the snow will have to be recorded.
Before concluding the meteorological portion of the subject, and
getting on with the story, it may be well to observe that according
to the best authorities a blizzard is caused by the fierceness of
the wind, which blows the cold into the vapour in the atmosphere and
consolidates it into fine snow without allowing time for the formation
of a snow-flake. We are accustomed to associate ideas of gentleness
and beauty and stillness with the fall of snow. The blizzard, which is
apparently--but, of course, only in name--a new acquaintance, shews us
the reverse side of the picture, and suggests nothing beyond merciless
fury and destructiveness.

As to the quantity of snow that fell, accounts differ. There were
huge drifts in most places; in others there was a comparatively
level covering of many feet in thickness. The condition of a part
of George Street, Plymouth, which received a very fair quantity, is
artistically portrayed in the accompanying illustration, copied from a
photograph taken on the morning of Tuesday by Mr. Heath, photographer,
of Plymouth. According to observations made by Dr. Merrifield, of
Plymouth, the value of whose scientific researches into the mysteries
of matters meteorological are beyond question, the quantity of snow and
rain that fell between Monday evening and early on Wednesday morning
was ·68. This was registered at the doctor's residence, which stands
125 feet above the level of the sea, and faces S.S.E. With the depth of
snow in other places, this record will deal in due course.

[Illustration: GEORGE STREET, PLYMOUTH.]

During the whole time the blizzard was raging, the wind varied from
N.E. to S.E. The changes were very rapid, but this was the widest
range. Along the coast the greatest severity appears to have been
experienced from a point or two eastward of Teignmouth to Falmouth Bay,
many towns exposed to the sea having to bear their share of the burden,
and unhappily many valuable lives being lost through disastrous wrecks.
If a map of the three counties of Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset be
consulted, it will be found that, taking this portion of the coast as
an opening through which the broad shaft of a hurricane entered, now
sweeping in a north-easterly, and now in a south-easterly direction,
the area of country that has sustained the heaviest damage will be
embraced, the intensity of the violence inflicted gradually diminishing
the further one travels towards the east, north, and west. Dartmoor
forms a kind of centre of the chief scene of desolation, and Plymouth,
being well within the range, has suffered far more severely than any
other large town in the three counties. To the eastward, in particular,
it is clear that the effects of the gale are not nearly so serious,
though the fall of snow was pretty abundant all over the southern part
of England. Outside of Devon and West Cornwall there are no great lots
of timber down, though here and there a fallen tree is observable.

Unhappily the departure of the storm was not so sudden as its advent.
The Tuesday following the night of tempest was an indescribably
wretched day, and the barometer fell to 29·180. Wednesday brought
sunshine and hope with it, and afforded the one bright spot in this
gloomy record by showing up many effects of wonderful beauty in the
snow-covered landscapes. Still the wind was never at rest, though
the thermometer went up to 120° in the sun. Thursday followed
with more snow, and occasional sharp and ominous squalls, and some
apprehension was felt that a repetition of Monday's experience was in
the air, but fortunately the week wore away without further calamity,
and the work of repairing to some extent the damage done, and thereby
making existence for man and beast possible, a task hitherto carried on
under tremendous difficulties, was vigorously pushed forward.

A letter, which will be found interesting, was, on the day after
the storm, written to the editor of the _Western Morning News_, and
published in that paper, by Captain Andrew Haggard, of the King's Own
Scottish Borderers, now stationed at Devonport. The writer is a brother
of Mr. Rider Haggard, and himself a novelist of repute. This letter was
as follows:--

    "SIR,--The cyclonic nature of the blizzard that has been
    annoying us all so much, and causing such a frightful amount
    of damage during the last two days, may be judged by the
    following observations taken by several officers in the South
    Raglan Barracks on the evening of the 9th instant. From these
    observations it would seem as if for a time the South Raglan
    Barracks were in the exact centre of the storm, being left for
    varying periods in a complete calm in consequence. Here are the
    notes we made:--At 8·12 P.M. the storm was raging so furiously
    that the solid old Raglan was shaken to its foundations, the
    fire was roaring up the chimney as if in a blast furnace, and
    the noise made by the blizzard generally was such that it was
    difficult to hear one's neighbour speak. But at 8·13 suddenly
    came a complete lull. The elements ceased to wage war, the
    fire assumed its normal demeanour, and an officer who went
    out to see what had happened came in and reported that it was
    so calm he was able to light matches outside. For thirteen
    minutes did this calm last. At 8·26 with a roar like thunder,
    the wind returned, and once more we were dreading that the
    armies of the chimney pots would fall upon us in their fury.
    Only for twenty minutes, though, did the hurricane scream
    and yell, and as before make itself generally obnoxious. At
    8·46 there was another absolute cessation of wind until 8·53,
    when it 'blizzed' worse than before. And shortly afterward
    everyone started forth to put out fires, when all the amateur
    meteorologists discovered to their grief that whatever the
    cyclone might do in the way of lulling occasionally down at
    the Raglan, on the top of Stoke Hill it blizzed all night with
    perfect impartiality.

    Yours truly,
    "ANDREW HAGGARD.
    "DEVONPORT, _March 10th_."



CHAPTER II.

THE BLIZZARD.


Soon after daylight, on the morning of Monday, March 9th, over the
whole of the West of England, the fine weather that had prevailed
for several weeks past gave place to a most unpleasant condition
of affairs. The temperature fell, almost suddenly, and in the
neighbourhood of Plymouth, Devonport, and Stonehouse, snow was falling
fitfully from about an hour before noon. There was a gradually rising
wind, that assumed menacing proportions as the afternoon wore on,
while the snow that had, for the first few hours, thawed as soon as it
fell upon the yet warm ground, was rapidly forming a white covering on
every position exposed to the sky. At six o'clock, in the three towns
some four or five inches of snow lay upon the ground, and the wind
had increased to a hurricane. Slates began to start from the roofs of
houses, and chimneys to fall, and in a very short time the streets
assumed a deserted appearance, and all vehicular traffic was stopped.
Advertisement hoardings were hurled from their positions with some
terrible crashes, and in many instances the splinters were promptly
seized by a thrifty populace and taken away for firewood. Many trees
were blown down in the early part of the night. In Buckland Street,
Plymouth, a tree of sufficient size to block the roadway fell at about
eight o'clock, and not long after another heavy tree fell from Athenæum
Garden across Athenæum Street, the main road to the Great Western
Railway Station, completely closing the thoroughfare. Our illustration,
reproduced from a photograph taken by Mr. Heath of George Street,
Plymouth, on the morning after the storm, gives a realistic idea of the
condition of Plymouth streets, and of the quantity of snow that was
blown about during the night.

On Plymouth Hoe, iron seats were blown from their fastenings and
rolled over and over, the ironwork in many instances being curiously
bent. The statue of Drake, the Armada Memorial, and the Smeaton Tower
looked, however, none the worse for the wild night. Perhaps, when the
sun shone upon them on Wednesday they may be described as having looked
better for the patches of glistening snow that clung to them in most
picturesque form. Strange to say, the Pavilion Pier sustained no damage
beyond a smashed pane or two of glass. Exposed as it must have been to
the full fury of the gale, it stood the turmoil gallantly, and this
fact speaks well for the soundness of the structure, and for the good
workmanship and material used in its erection.

Trees were uprooted or snapped short off at Woodside, the residence of
Mr. Bewes, at Portland Square, and in many other parts of Plymouth. Of
these irreparable losses much more will be said in the course of this
record. Concerning the damage wrought among houses and homesteads,
and the marvellous escapes from injury to life and limb, our limited
pages would not permit of the chronicling of one hundredth part of
those that were met with in the Three Towns alone during that night. At
Clifton Place, Plymouth, a chimney fell through the roof into a bedroom
occupied by three little girls, and completely buried them, two being
so badly injured as to necessitate their removal to the hospital. In
this instance the staircase was blocked by the débris, and access to
the terrified children could only be obtained by means of ladders, and
with the greatest difficulty.

[Illustration: ATHENÆUM STREET, PLYMOUTH.]

On Mutley Plain, one of the most exposed situations in Plymouth, the
storm raged with terrific fury, women and children being blown off
their feet and half-suffocated with the rush of snow-laden wind, while
such cabmen as had ventured abroad with their cabs, made their way back
to more sheltered quarters with great difficulty. Numerous instances
in this locality of strong men receiving severe contusions through
being blown against walls and railings are recorded. At Alexandra
Place, Mutley, a terrific gust of wind caught one of the chimneys of
the house, sending it through the roof, and the only means of rendering
the house habitable for the time was by stretching tarpaulins over
the breach. There is no statement accessible of the number of fallen
chimneys and damaged roofs that might have been discovered in the Three
Towns alone during that night, and even if there were, to recount
them all would only be to tell one sad story over and over again with
wearisome monotony; but it is probably safe to say that scarcely
one street in the whole of the district escaped without some house
receiving injury. Fortunately the storm was at its height at about 8
o'clock in the evening, an hour when bedrooms are usually unoccupied.
Had the chief fury of the gale been spent some hours later, it is more
than likely that numerous fatalities would have had to be recounted.

At a shop in Fore Street, Devonport, a similar accident occurred, two
children while lying in bed being badly crushed through a chimney
falling. At the Main Guard, at the top of Devonport Hill, the windows
were blown in, but the soldiers on duty fortunately escaped without
injury, and were removed into the barracks. The roofs of the "Crown and
Column," and of the wine and spirit store in the occupation of Messrs.
Chubb & Co., both in Devonport, were seriously injured, while at
Wingfield Villa, Stoke, the residence of the rector of Stoke Damerel,
soon after 8 o'clock, a terrific squall burst upon the house and sent
a large chimney stack crashing through the roof into the drawing room,
doing great damage to some valuable furniture. Altogether, a lengthy
chapter of accidents might be recorded as the result of the gale on
Monday evening in Devonport. In a few instances personal injuries of
a more or less serious nature were sustained, but it is not a little
remarkable, that here, as elsewhere in the immediate neighbourhood,
while there were many narrow escapes no case of a fatal character
occurred.

Among other narrow escapes at Devonport may be instanced that of a
gentleman living in Albert Road, Morice Town. He went to a back bedroom
on the top storey to nail up a board to prevent smoke from blowing down
the chimney, when a sudden gust struck the stack and precipitated it on
to the roof, which fell through the ceiling into the bedroom, burying
him and carrying a portion of the floor into the back drawing-room
below. The gentleman in question managed to extricate himself from the
débris, and escaped with a severe shaking. In another case, a family
occupying two rooms at the top of an old house in Cannon Street,
nearly lost their lives. The occupier, his wife, and mother-in-law,
were sitting around the bedroom fire when the roof fell on them. Their
injuries were not of a serious character, but considerable damage was
done to their furniture. It is estimated that about £50 worth of damage
was done to the buildings at the back of Hope (Baptist) Chapel in Fore
Street; a chimney falling bodily crashed through the roof, and carried
one of the class-rooms and the gallery of the Sunday-school into the
vestry. A chimney stack falling from No. 7, Chapel Street, destroyed
a conservatory, and did considerable damage to the roof of the
adjoining house, No. 6. A large portion of the roof of the South Devon
Sanitary Laundry, Cornwall Street, was blown away, and the work of the
establishment was temporarily disarranged in consequence. Extensive
damage was also done to property at 10, Stopford-place, Stoke.

One of the most miraculous escapes that occurred was that at the
residence of Mr. Perkins (Lord Mount-Edgecumbe's surveyor) in Emma
Place, Stonehouse. During the hurricane Mrs. Perkins heard the windows
and doors rattling, and rushed up to the nursery to see that the
windows were closed and doors fastened. The servant was closing the
window, her mistress standing near the chimney breast, when there was
a sudden crash. The servant clung to the framework of the window, but
Mrs. Perkins immediately found herself buried in bricks and mortar.
She was sitting on a portion of the floor near the window, with her
legs dangling over an abyss; the floors having been carried away, with
the exception of two floor boards, upon which, happily, she had been
deposited. The snow found its way into the house, and although no one
could distinguish her or the servant, she seems to have grasped the
situation and called to her husband to bring a ladder to release her
and the girl. This eventually was done, but the intense excitement of
the moment may be well imagined. Mr. Perkins, having obtained a ladder
and a light had the greatest difficulty in discovering the position of
those above, but having done so, he released both from their perilous
position, little thinking that the ladder was resting on fallen
rubbish, the slightest shock to which would have precipitated all to
the basement.

During this night of disaster, probably the most calamitous incident
that occurred on land, was a fire which broke out at about 8 o'clock
at 4, Wingfield Villas, Stoke, the residence of Mr. Venning, Town
Clerk of Devonport, and which resulted in the total destruction of the
house and its contents, as well as in material damage to the adjoining
villa. A chimney-stack facing the direction from which the wind blew
gave way and, crashing through the roof of the nursery, carried with
it a quantity of débris through the floor of the nursery into the
drawing-room below. Through the aperture thus made the fire from the
nursery grate, and it is supposed also a lamp, were carried, and
speedily ignited the contents of the drawing-room. The fire, being
fanned by the fierce gale, just then at its height, increased rapidly,
and the premises were soon in a blaze.

Owing to the elevated position in which the house stood the
conflagration was visible at a great distance, and in spite of the
weather, large numbers of people visited the spot, although the journey
thither, under the circumstances, was one of the most difficult it
is possible to conceive. To those who ventured on the walk, however,
the sight presented was an extraordinarily impressive one. The flames
raged like the blast of a furnace, and the mingling of smoke, sparks
and snow-dust produced an effect that was as novel as it was terrible.
Sparks from the burning building were carried immense distances, and
beaten, with the snow-powder, against the windows of houses that faced
the burning villa. Standing at a distance of nearly a mile, with eyes
fixed on the blaze, it was impossible to believe that the roar of the
fire could not be heard, so nearly did the howling and surging of the
wind resemble the roar caused by a great volume of rushing flame.

In connection with the fire several narrow escapes are recorded. Mr.
Venning's daughter, about six years of age, had a perilous experience.
She had been put to bed by her nurse, and, during the absence of the
latter from the room for a few minutes, the chimney clashed through the
roof into the drawing-room. Fortunately Mr. Venning's daughter received
nothing worse than a severe fright, and she was quickly removed to a
neighbouring house. The ladies who were in the drawing-room at the time
of the crash were also greatly alarmed, and made a hasty exit from
the building, being hospitably sheltered at Wingfield House by Colonel
Goodeve, R.A., and also at the house of a relative, in Godolphin
Terrace.

The efforts of the firemen to prevent the spread of the flames, under
circumstances of great difficulty, were crowned with a well-merited
success. Water was not readily available, and when obtained was not
abundant, but notwithstanding this a gallant fight was made, and
although to save the one dwelling was impossible, the contents of
the adjoining one were safely removed, and the structure itself was
snatched from total demolition. In addition to the West of England
and Devonport Fire Brigades, and a large staff of constables under
the charge of Mr. Evans, the Chief Constable of Devonport, there were
present Colonel Liardet, R.M.L.I., the field officer of the day, and a
detachment of men belonging to the King's Own Scottish Borderers, under
Captain Haggard. Several manual engines from the troops in garrison
were taken to the scene of the fire, but, with one exception, they were
not brought into use. A number of civilians were conspicuous for their
energy in performing voluntary salvage duty. The damage resulting from
this fire has been estimated at something like £7,000.

On their way to and from the scene of the fire by way of Millbridge,
many pedestrians from Plymouth had narrow escapes from being blown
over the parapet of the bridge into the Deadlake. About half-past
eight, when the fire had somewhat abated, the majority of the Plymouth
spectators moved back with the intention of re-crossing the bridge,
but the wind had increased in violence, and the water in the lake
was so disturbed that the waves could be heard lashing against the
bridge and on the shores. Some who ventured on the bridge were driven
back, and consternation began to spread among the crowd, many women
screaming loudly. To proceed to Plymouth by way of Pennycomequick was
also a matter of difficulty, as the full fury of the gale blowing down
the valley had to be faced. Many waited on the Devonport side until
there was a lull, when some of them linked their arms in those of their
friends for safety's sake and so crossed to Plymouth.

During the whole of Monday night Her Majesty's vessels in the Hamoaze
were in positions of great peril, and those holding responsible posts
in connection with them underwent great anxiety. The _Lion_ and
_Implacable_, anchored just above Torpoint, which form an establishment
for training boys, under the command of Commander Morrison, dragged
their moorings during the evening. The vessels were moored stern to
stern, and connected by a covered gangway. The cause of the mishap
was the parting of the starboard bridle of the _Implacable_. At about
half-past nine signals of distress were made to the shore, and it was
stated that the two ships had been driven ashore, and were in the
mud off Thanckes. This, however, proved not to be the case, as the
vessels never even touched the ground. As soon as the danger was known
all available tugs at Devonport Dockyard were despatched with a view
to taking off, if necessary, the hundreds of boys who were on board.
At midnight, however, all apprehension for the safety of the vessels
had been practically removed, although as the storm had by no means
abated, the tugs were ordered to stand by all night in order to give
any assistance that might be required.

In the meantime there was great excitement in Sutton Harbour. Between
eight and nine o'clock several of the trading vessels, trawlers, and
fishing craft lying at anchor began to drag, and extra warps had to
be got out, and the vessels secured. The sea in the harbour was very
heavy, and at one time some fear was felt for the buildings along
the quay, but no damage of this nature occurred. Some of the stores
along the North quay were roughly handled by the wind, the roof of
the new coal store of Messrs. Hill and Co. was blown off, and a
similar accident occurred to the premises in the occupation of Messrs.
Vodden and Johns, but generally speaking the damage on the quays was
satisfactorily light. A good deal of anxiety was expressed as to the
welfare of trawlers who were known to be in the channel, and, as a
subsequent chapter will show, these fears were by no means groundless.
The cutter of the harbourmaster, lying in Plymouth Sound was reported
to be in a sinking condition during the night, and a tug was sent to
her assistance. She had four men on board, who were removed for safety,
but ultimately the cutter weathered the storm, and is still afloat.

Under conditions like these the night of the ninth of March wore away
in the Three Towns. To many the night was a long one, and crowded
with all sorts of apprehensions. The wind, never for a moment silent,
rose again and again to hurricane force, and the fine snow so swiftly
covered the window panes that to look out upon the night soon became a
matter of difficulty. There was no great feeling of security indoors,
but to remain out for long was a matter of impossibility, and the
imperfect and disconnected rumours of disaster that were disseminated
created all the more alarm from the fact that they could not be
investigated. Hundreds of households did not go to bed at all, while
very many sat up all night because their bedrooms were in a state of
hopeless confusion, or of absolute wreck. Some were without fire,
through a defect having been brought about in the chimney, or through
the chimney having fallen in altogether; and in those localities where
the buildings were of the dilapidated or frail order the wretchedness
for the night, and, indeed, for the week throughout, was very great.

Not the least serious part of the gale was the number of friends
missing from the Plymouth district. Quite early there was a breakdown
of the telegraph wires, which made all telegraphic communication
with other parts of the country impossible, and the late arrival of
many trains into the west, and the non-arrival of others, led to
much anxious conjecture as to the fate of those whose appearance in
Plymouth during the night had been confidently expected. The first
indications of telegraphic interruption were observed as early as
half-past four on Monday afternoon, when communication with Tavistock
was suspended. Following this, the reports of breakdowns from all parts
of the two counties became very frequent until about seven o'clock,
when communication with London and all places above Plymouth ceased.
Penzance, and one or two Cornish towns could be communicated with
for some time longer, but soon all operations were suspended, and no
messages were received at the Plymouth office after eight o'clock.
As a general rule the breakdown was caused by trees falling across
the wires, or by the telegraph posts having been brought bodily to
the ground. As will be subsequently seen, this condition of things
prevailed to a great extent, and in some cases the telegraph wires and
posts got upon the railway lines and prevented the progress of the
trains.

The interruption of the local train service commenced early on Monday.
Trains due at North Road Station, Plymouth, between mid-day and eight
o'clock in the evening were all considerably behind time, and the
telegraphic and telephonic instruments being rendered useless, thus
making communication with other stations impossible, the officials had
an anxious period of waiting for information of belated trains. At
about nine o'clock the "Jubilee," which left London at one o'clock,
and should have reached North Road, Plymouth, at 7·30, came into the
station. With the remarkable experiences of passengers by this, one
of the last trains that reached Plymouth by either the London and
South Western or Great Western lines from Monday night to Saturday,
and other trains that failed to reach Plymouth at all, a subsequent
chapter will deal, should space permit. A train from Tavistock, due
at 8·40, did not appear until eleven o'clock, and the eight o'clock
train from Launceston did not come at all. The "Alexandra," a train
that left Waterloo Station at 2·40 arrived at nine o'clock, the driver
stating that near Okehampton he had to drive through three feet of
snow. These, however, are the trains that did arrive. There were many
that did not, and in many scores of instances a member of a family was
not heard of for days, although, happily, in the majority of cases, the
missing one ultimately turned up with nothing worse than a severe cold
and a great distaste for winter life in small Devonshire or Cornish
towns.

So far the state of affairs in the Three Towns only has been dealt
with, but it will be readily surmised that adjacent towns, and more
especially those in the neighbourhood of Dartmoor, and the more open
parts of Cornwall, suffered very considerably. Generally speaking,
the damage to house property was nowhere so great as in Plymouth and
Devonport. In the country districts, as a matter of course, calamities
of a most serious and special character were met with, and trees were
felled, sheep buried, and oxen frozen in enormous quantities,--in some
instances, also, human life was sacrificed, but in none of the other
larger towns was the devastation so widespread as in the Three Towns.
At Exeter, the fall of snow was said to be the heaviest for years, and
by reason of its suddenness, even more severe than the storm of 1881.
The drifts of snow in some places were of great depth. As at Plymouth,
traffic as well as business was suspended, but there were no serious
mishaps, the force of the wind, though great, being evidently not so
fierce as was the case further west. Railway communication between
Exeter and Plymouth was of course impossible, but there were on Tuesday
four trains trying to run between Exeter and Taunton. The North of
England mail, which should have arrived at Exeter at half-past eight
was four hours late, but it did put in an appearance. The trains of the
London and South Western Railway ran to Exeter from the North just as
usual, throughout the week.

At Torquay the storm was the severest experienced there for many
years. There was a heavy fall of snow on the night of Monday, and on
the following morning the ground was covered to the depth of a foot. A
strong easterly wind was also blowing, and trees were uprooted in every
part of the district. At the Recreation Grounds the roof was blown
off the grand stand, and a huge tree blew across the railway at Lowes
Bridge, near Torre Station. An engine of the up-train cut through this
and traffic was suspended until the line was cleared by a breakdown
gang on Tuesday. The trains from London and Plymouth failing to run,
Torquay soon became isolated, and telegraph and telephone communication
was early interfered with in consequence of the poles being blown down
and the wires broken by the burden of snow. Considerable damage was
done to the New Pier works by the heavy gale. Plant for moulding the
concrete was washed away, as was also a portion of the masonry, while
parts of the sea-wall were damaged, and a flight of stone steps leading
to the sea-wall were swept completely away. Street traffic was so
much impeded by the snow that on the Tuesday after the storm the Town
Surveyor constructed a wooden snow-plough, and with this, drawn by two
horses, the roads were cleared. All the public clocks in the town were
stopped by the snow.

Tavistock was one of the towns that had the severest experiences. The
barometer fell rapidly on Monday morning, and at about eleven o'clock
snow began to fall; while, as the day advanced, it was accompanied by a
high wind, that, towards seven o'clock in the evening, increased to a
hurricane. In Tavistock, and all along the Tavy Valley, the full force
of the storm was felt, large trees being uprooted, houses unroofed,
and chimney-stacks blown down in every direction. One of the latter
instances occurred in West Street, where the occupant, a lady, had been
suffering from a serious illness. The chimney-stack being blown over,
the débris fell through the roof into the bedroom where the invalid was
lying. Her attendant received some cuts on the head, but the invalid
escaped the falling masonry, although she received a severe shock to
the system through the incident. A waggoner employed at the Phoenix
Mills, Horrabridge, was returning to Tavistock from Lifton on Monday
night, in charge of an empty waggon and three horses, and when within
two miles of his destination, found that through the violence of the
storm he was unable to continue his journey. He took the horses out
of the waggon, and made an ineffectual attempt to drive them home.
Failing in this the waggoner walked into Tavistock, and at about ten
o'clock returned to the spot where he had left his horses. By this time
the snow was so deep that the horses could not be seen, and it was
necessary to leave them until the following morning. Eventually they
were dug out, and driven home, not much the worse, to all appearance,
for their night in the snow. Tavistock being an important market town,
and the centre of a large district, experienced great inconvenience
through the interruption in railway traffic, and the impassable state
of the roads. Wednesday, March 11th, was the monthly cattle fair day,
but not a single animal was brought in. At the Fitzford Church the
window was blown in. Like many other towns in the Dartmoor vicinity,
Tavistock received more than one disastrous visitation during this
memorable week, and its record of lost sheep and cattle, to which more
extended reference will be made further on, is a very serious one.

At Bideford, and in the surrounding country, the weather was more
severe than any experienced since the winter of 1881. The barometer had
been steadily going back all day on Sunday, and on Monday a cutting
east wind blew with considerable force. Snow commenced falling at
noon, and continued until the evening, when the streets and roads were
covered to some depth. Then the wind rose to half a gale, whirling
the snow into little clouds, which filled both doors and windows. All
through the night the wind increased in force, until it blew a perfect
hurricane. Icicles hung inches long from windowsills and launders of
the houses. In the country, traffic was completely suspended, the
snowdrifts being as high as the hedges. Farmers were consequently
unable to get into market, and provisions went up considerably in
price. The mail coach started for Clovelly and Hartland as usual on
Tuesday morning, and managed to reach Clovelly. There, however, the
horses had to be taken out, and the driver rode through the deep drifts
to Hartland on horseback. The return journey was performed by another
man in a similar way. All the mails were delayed, and rural postmen's
districts were mostly impassable.

At Teignmouth, Exmouth, Dawlish, and most other seaside places from
the estuary of the Exe to the Start, the effects of the gale were
severely felt on Monday night. At the former place the sea ran high,
and the breakers fell with great force close to the landwash and over
the promenade. Opposite Den House the roadway was undermined and washed
away, and had it not been for the fact that an hitherto existing stone
wall lay buried beneath the surface, which acted as a breakwater
against the heavy sea, it is almost certain that Den House and Bella
Vista would have been washed away. As soon as the tide ebbed, the wind
veered towards the northward, and the sea went down. A gang of men were
at once set to work to shore up the embankment, and fill in the cavity
made by the sea. The Promenade towards the East Cliff was also washed
up in several places. In the Exeter Road and at Brimley a large number
of trees were blown down, and traffic was generally suspended.

An illustration from a photograph by Messrs. G. Denney & Co.,
photographers, of Exeter and Teignmouth, portrays one of the scenes in
Exeter Road, which was impassable for a day or two.

At Totnes, Brent, and in fact every town in Devonshire, damage of a
more or less severe character was sustained. Space will not allow of
a separate reference to each locality in the present chapter, but in
dealing with occurrences that took place after the early force of the
blizzard had been exhausted on that memorable Monday night and Tuesday
morning, there will be found few districts that necessity will not
compel us to bring under notice.

[Illustration: EXETER ROAD, TEIGNMOUTH.]

Reference has already been made to some towns in the North of Devon.
Throughout the whole of this district the storm raged furiously,
rendering communication with many parts impossible. Although snow did
not commence to fall until Monday afternoon, by the evening of that day
the drifts had reached a depth of several feet. The train which left
Barnstaple for Ilfracombe at about half-past eight on Monday evening
became embedded just below Morthoe station. At Ilfracombe a strong
gale raged throughout Monday night, and the brigantine _Ethel_, of
Salcombe, 180 tons went ashore at Combemartin, but in this instance
no lives were lost, the crew having taken to their boats. In North
Cornwall, a terrible snowstorm raged for twenty-four hours, resembling
in many respects the great storm of the 18th and 19th January, 1881.
The atmospheric pressure was about the same as then, and the storm
burst from the same point. On the first day of the great storm in 1881,
the temperature varied from 26 to 30 and on the second from 25 to 30.
On the 9th of March in the present year it varied from 29 to 31½. The
roads were soon blocked in all directions, trains on the lines ceased
running, and no mails could be sent or received. Bude was cut off
from the outside world, except by telegraphic communication. In the
roads around Bude the snow was quickly as high as the hedges, so that
traffic, even on foot, was rendered impracticable. Falmouth, Liskeard,
Camborne, and indeed all other Cornish towns, had a rough night, and
before our story is finished, like many towns in Devonshire, they will
be found to have suffered severely. To approach them with any hope of
successfully relating how they all fared on the night of Monday and on
the Tuesday following, we must deal with the railways, for from railway
travellers who were detained in certain places on the course of their
journeys, and from the energetic officials who after heavy and anxious
toil succeeded in releasing them, many of the most thrilling narratives
have been obtained.



CHAPTER III.

ON THE RAILWAYS.


Some incidents in connection with the suspension of the railway service
on every line connecting Plymouth with the rest of the world have
already been related. It is unnecessary to dwell at further length on
the terrible mental and physical suffering entailed by this state of
things. Facts need no comment that tell of passengers being snowed up
in a train for thirty-six hours on a stretch, and others being unable
to communicate with their friends for nearly a week, to say nothing of
all that the engine-drivers and other officials had to endure.

One of the first expeditions that set out into the dreary night in
search of the cause of delay was undertaken by Mr. C. E. Compton,
the divisional superintendent of the Great Western Railway Co., and
other gentlemen, who went out on a pilot engine as far as Camel's Head
Bridge between eight and nine o'clock on Monday night. The cause of the
interruption in the telegraph system was here ascertained, the poles
being blown down and lying across the line. Later in the evening Mr.
Compton pushed on as far as Hemerdon, on the main line, where a similar
state of things was encountered, and it was learned that at Kingsbridge
Road and at Brent Station the snow had drifted to such an extent as
to block the line. A train due from Penzance was known to be somewhere
on the Plymouth side of Truro, but its exact whereabouts could not be
discovered. There was some anxious looking out for the "Zulu" express
from Paddington, due at Plymouth early in the evening, but the train
was at Brent, with about ten feet of snow on the line, between it and
Plymouth, and, as will be presently seen, the passengers were meeting
with some novel and undesirable experiences.

The mail train from Plymouth for London left Millbay Station at
the usual time, 8·20, and Hemerdon Junction was reached with much
difficulty. Here the first deep cutting had to be encountered, and the
driver, approaching it at a reduced speed, observed that the drifting
snow had practically blocked the entrance. The seriousness of the
situation was realized by one and all of the passengers, and, although
there was an anxiety on their part to get to their destination as soon
as possible, they agreed that there was no alternative but to either
remain where they were or return to Plymouth. The latter course was
decided upon, and shunting was at once proceeded with. The drifts of
snow rendered this work very difficult, and the frequent jerkings
caused the passengers much inconvenience. Eventually the driver, after
most skilful handling of the locomotive, succeeded in reversing the
position of the engine, and a start was made for Plymouth. Much to
the relief of the passengers, the latter place was reached, after a
slow but sure journey, about half-past one next morning. The utmost
consideration was shown the passengers by the station officials, and
accommodation was found them for the night at the "Duke of Cornwall"
Hotel and in the station waiting-room.

All traffic on the London and South Western Railway below Okehampton
ceased soon after eight o'clock on Monday night. One of the slow
passenger trains from Okehampton was snowed up in a deep cutting
between Meldon Viaduct and Bridestowe, one of the bleakest spots on the
South Western system. The express due at North Road Station at 11·4 on
the same night was stopped at Okehampton. The ordinary seven o'clock
up-train was despatched on Tuesday morning from Mutley Station, and was
drawn by three engines. Considerable danger attended railway travelling
in consequence of the jolting and straining that occurred when the
numerous obstructions were met with. All the points at the Tavistock
Station were completely choked, and though for some hours a number of
men were employed in an effort to keep them clear, the task was found
impossible, and as a result the train that might have proceeded in the
direction of Plymouth remained where it was as the engine could not be
shunted to the Plymouth end of the train. The last up South Western
train on Monday night was snowed up at Lidford, but the passengers were
released. One of the vans of a goods train proceeding to Tavistock
early on Monday evening was blown away.

Serious as was the condition of things on all the railways on Monday
night, on Tuesday matters became worse. During that day only two trains
reached Millbay Station, Plymouth, and these, which came from Cornwall,
should have arrived on Monday night. One account, of experiences as
unique as they were unpleasant, is thus given by the _Western Daily
Mercury_:--"The mail train from Cornwall, due at Plymouth at 8·10
on Monday night, reached Millbay at 9·30 A.M., bringing some eighty
passengers; amongst whom were Mr. Bolitho, banker, of Penzance, and
Mrs. Bolitho, who were wishful of getting to Ivybridge to attend the
hunt, and Mr. J. H. Hamblyn, of Buckfastleigh, who was _en route_ from
Liskeard to Bristol Fair. All went well with the mail until St. Germans
was reached at about 8 P.M. It was found that no further progress was
possible, and that there was no help for it but to pass the night in
the carriages under the shelter of the station. Mr. Gibbons, one of
the assistant-engineers of the line, and Inspector Scantlebury, who
were travelling in the train, resolved to walk to Saltash. The snow was
not so very deep at this time, and the block was due principally to
the wholesale destruction of telegraph poles. After a rough time of it
the two officials reached Saltash, and afterwards pushed on to Camel's
Head, where was the biggest block of all, fir trees and telegraph poles
and wires being scattered about broadcast. Meanwhile at St. Germans the
station-master (Mr. Priest) was doing his best to make the passengers
as comfortable as possible. In fact, all of those who reached Plymouth
after the night's adventure are loud in their praises of Mr. Priest.
Messengers were despatched by him to the village, and loaves, butter,
tea, and coffee were speedily bought up. At the station fires were
lit in all the available grates, and very soon the passengers were in
possession of hot tea and coffee, as well as bread and butter. This
modest fare was repeated at intervals during the night, and it goes
without saying was most welcome.

"After spending something like ten hours at St. Germans the mail was
able to leave at eight o'clock on Tuesday morning for Saltash, but
here another delay of nearly two hours took place, in consequence of
the block on the Devonport side of the Camel's Head bridge. To remove
this a breakdown train had been sent out from Plymouth at 6 A.M. in
charge of Mr. H. Quigley, the assistant divisional-superintendent. This
train got as far as Keyham Viaduct without much interruption. Here an
array of prostrate poles and fir-trees required removing, and then
the breakdown train forged ahead slowly to the Weston Mills Viaduct,
where there was a confused mass of poles and wires stretching from one
side of the creek to the other. This accomplished, a move was made to
Saltash, where the mail was met and safely escorted to Plymouth, which
all were glad to reach, after a novel but most unpleasant night's
adventure."

[Illustration: ROAD BETWEEN ST. CLEER AND LISKEARD.]

The difficulty that beset those that attempted to travel by road the
above view indicates, and is from a photograph by A. Leamon, Esq., of
Liskeard.

One of the passengers in the train snowed up between Princetown
and Plymouth in the evening mail has related the following
experiences:--"We left Princetown at 6·30 P.M. on Monday--the regular
time--with five bags of mails. The snow beat in our compartment through
closed doors, ventilators, and windows so much, that in a few minutes I
had two inches of snow on my umbrella. We stuffed paper, handkerchiefs,
and cloth into every hole or crevice we could find, and this remedied
matters a little. The coach we were in was a composite one--of four
third-class compartments, one second class, one first class, and
one guard's, and we were all in one compartment. Well, the wind was
blowing great guns, and we passed through two large drifts just after
leaving Princetown, but it required some heavy pulling. We had just
been congratulating ourselves on having been lucky in getting so
nicely through the storm, when we suddenly stopped, and we knew we had
stuck in the snow. The engine driver came and said, 'I was afraid of
it; we have got over a bar, and we cannot go on. We ought not to have
started.' The ladies became alarmed, and with that the driver, fireman,
and guard went to the front of the train with shovels to try and dig
a way for her, but it was no good. It is true that the place where we
stopped is on a bit of decline, but the engine was choked with snow.
The guard, having told us that we could not get on without assistance,
proceeded in the direction of Dousland to get help. He had been gone
about an hour, when he returned with the mournful intelligence that he
had lost his way, and that it was no use for him to attempt to reach
Dousland, as the snow blinded him. We decided to make ourselves as
comfortable as we possibly could under the painful conditions to which
we were subjected--six men and two ladies huddled together in one
compartment--the cold being most bitter, and none of us having anything
to eat or drink. We lived the night through, but in what way I can
hardly tell.

"In the morning the wind was blowing as strong as ever, and the snow as
it fell melted on the window panes, and the lamp--our only light--was
extinguished at 7 A.M. Just at this time the guard and fireman left
us, saying they were going to try and reach Dousland with the 'staff,'
so as to let them know of the disaster, and see what help could be
rendered. It is true that the fireman was lame, but I understand they
had fearful trouble, as he was sadly knocked up and his foot badly
lacerated. Some little time afterwards the driver, who has, I believe,
been seriously ill, announced his intention of going to Dousland. We
then felt in a particularly sad condition, feeling our only hope was
gone now that the driver had abandoned us. The storm was raging as
fiercely as on the previous night, but at 3 P.M. we were agreeably
surprised to find three packers, who had tramped up from Dousland
with refreshments for us, knock at our door. We were heartily glad to
receive the refreshments, which, I believe, were sent from the railway
company to us in our forlorn position--although it only consisted of
cocoa, bread and butter, and cake, with a bottle of well-watered brandy
to follow. We found there was enough for us to have one piece of bread
and butter and one piece of cake each. This was not a very substantial
bill of fare for people who had had nothing to eat for over twenty
hours, but we were thankful for small mercies. There is one thing I
forgot: the packers were very kind, and brought us out the guard's lamp
from his van, which we afterwards lit. One of the party, I think Palk,
asked if the packer thought we could weather the journey back. The
packer replied, 'It will take you about two hours.' This was enough for
Palk, who said he thought he was better where he was. Besides, we asked
him to stay and not desert us in the time of trouble.

"We then awaited the result of events. The wind was fearful, and we
were all bitterly cold. We were nearly dead in the afternoon, and drank
all the brandy by eight o'clock. If it had not been for that some of
us would have given way. The weather was milder after midnight. About
seven o'clock this morning one of us looking out of the window saw Mr.
Hilson, of Horsford, farmer, whose farm is only about 250 yards from
where our train was lying, picking sheep out of the snow. We whistled
to him, and on his coming to us he was told of our predicament. He
expressed his astonishment that he knew nothing of the accident. We
do not see how he could have, because the snow had been so blinding
in character until that day that it was impossible to see anyone
ahead. He offered us the use of his farm, and we joyfully accepted
the same, leaving the train after being in her for 36 hours. Poor
Mrs. Watts was much distressed and we had to assist her down. We had
breakfast at Mr. Hilson's, and then four of us--Hancock, Viggers, Palk
and Worth--started to walk to Dousland, which we could see ahead of
us. We got on fairly well over the snow, which was very deep in some
places. We could not keep our eyes open owing to the snow when we left
Princetown, and when we asked the station-master for tickets he said,
'You can have them, but I cannot promise you will get there.' It did
not strike me at the time, but if a station-master had any doubts as
to the safety or otherwise of a train he should not allow the train to
travel. It is true the wind was in our favour when we started. Mrs.
Watts is very bad indeed, and also the engine-driver and stoker. The
engine of the train when we left was completely covered with snow,
and the snow had drifted as high as the carriage, with a blank space
between the body and the wheels. All the compartments into which I
looked before I left her--although the windows and ventilators were
closed and doors locked--were full of snow above the hat-racks. It was
the most horrible experience of my life."

[Illustration: EXPRESS TRAIN, G. W. RY., TEIGNMOUTH.]

Great anxiety was felt in Exeter and Plymouth on account of the sea
wall which carries the line of the Great Western Railway Company from
Dawlish to Teignmouth. In past years this piece of line has suffered
very severely, and rumours were in circulation that it had been
washed away in some places. Happily, however, it was found, as soon
as communication became opened up once more, that the line remained
intact, the damaged portion of the sea wall being a carriage-drive
close to the town. One of our views, from a photograph by Messrs.
Denney & Co., photographers, of Exeter and Teignmouth, gives an
admirable idea of the force of the sea in this district, during the
progress of a gale from the south-east.

Difficulties and dangers on all the lines of railway multiplied as time
went on, and the horrors of the Monday night, of which the foregoing
narratives present only a partial view, were succeeded by some sad
instances of loss of life, besides great damage to the property of the
respective companies, and as a matter of course, a heavy falling off in
their traffic returns. The returns for the week, following March 9th,
on the Great Western system, showed a decrease of £12,980 as compared
with the corresponding week of the previous year, and the South-Western
Railway's decrease amounted to £3,662--all but £650 of which was lost
from the non-conveyance of passengers and parcels. This was regarded
as especially unfortunate in the case of the South-Western Railway,
as its traffic returns had previously been going up week by week, and
in the eleven weeks of the year had increased by £12,120, as compared
with the first eleven weeks of 1890. In addition to these losses heavy
expenses were incurred by all the companies by the efforts made to
clear away the snow, by means of snow ploughs, and the employment of
large gangs of men. The inadequacy of the snow ploughs, which dated
in England from the time of the heavy snow-fall in the early part of
1881, for clearing away heavy drifts, has been generally admitted. The
ploughs are quite competent to get rid of from 4 to 5 feet of snow, but
their capacity is not equal to depths ranging as high as 18 feet, such
as were dealt with in some places between Newton Abbott and Plymouth,
on the Great Western system, to say nothing of other sections and
branches. The ploughs, which are kept at Swindon, have an iron ram
in front, projecting like that of an ironclad, with a "cutter." The
attention of engineers has, however, been now directed to a new kind
of machine, with a revolving, spade-like apparatus, having a powerful
shaft, and a propeller that is designed to scatter the snow with which
it is brought into contact, and throw it clear of the rails on which
the engine is travelling. The work of cutting out engines that had been
absolutely embedded was very arduous, and in one case, lamentable loss
of life accompanied the other misfortunes brought about by the storm.

One or two instances of striking and unprecedented experiences of the
night of Monday must be recorded before this part of the subject, which
is, in itself, enough to fill a volume, is dismissed.

Passengers by the train which left Queen Street Station, Exeter, on
Monday evening at 6·38, and was in connection with the 2·20 from
Waterloo, had an exceptionally rough time. The train, a slow one, had
to make its way across Dartmoor from Okehampton to Tavistock, and on
starting, the guard, Mr. Moore, had orders to proceed as far as he
could. After cutting through the snow for some miles the train reached
Okehampton, and then attempted to brave the force of the storm that
was sweeping down from the Dartmoor hills. It got over the Meldon
Viaduct safely, and then it was attempted to go on over Sourton Down,
but in going through Youlditch cutting it ran into a snow-drift, and
about three miles to the west of Okehampton it was brought to a stop.
Efforts were made to run back to Okehampton, but the rapid drifts of
snow, which were from ten to twenty feet in height, prevented this
being done, and it was soon seen that there was nothing left but to
remain until help of some kind could be obtained. There were only
eleven passengers, including two ladies and two children. The ladies
and children, who were well supplied with wraps, were bestowed as
comfortably as circumstances would permit in a first-class carriage,
the male portion of the party, with the guard, Mr. Moore, the driver,
Mr. Bennett, and the fireman, Mr. Oates, trying to find some warmth
in the guard's van. This, however, was a matter of impossibility, the
bitter wind and the fine snow finding its way into the compartment,
to the great discomfort of the occupants. The engine fire was kept
alight, but was useless to impart warmth to the unfortunate party. It
was only on the following day, and just before relief arrived, that Mr.
Bennett had succeeded in getting a fire in the van by means of boring
holes in one of the engine-buckets, filling the bucket with coal and,
after much difficulty, kindling a flame, which the draught obtained
through the holes soon increased into a most welcome blaze. Mr. John
Powlesland, auctioneer, of Bow, was one of the belated travellers, and
was especially assiduous in his efforts to do all he could for his
fellow-sufferers.

When the train first showed signs of becoming embedded, a telegram
was sent from the nearest signal-box to Exeter for assistance, and
two engines were sent down. These approached within three-quarters of
a mile of the snowed-up train, but could not be taken nearer on that
line. They were then, with some difficulty, shunted on the up-line,
with the view of pushing their way to the carriages in that manner, but
the only result was that they became snowed-up in their turn.

As day approached Mr. Moore and Mr. Oates made their way to the Sourton
Inn, which stood at no great distance, for the purpose of obtaining
food, but their endeavour met with but slight success, the inn being
also snowed-up, and the occupants having but little in the way of
provisions that they could spare. No help arrived until Tuesday, at
mid-day, when a search-party, headed by Mr. Prickman, the Mayor of
Okehampton, and consisting of some half-a-dozen gentlemen of that
locality, succeeded, after a difficult journey, in reaching the train.
They took with them food and liquid refreshment, and were most heartily
welcomed by the imprisoned travellers. By this time the train was
entirely buried on one side, the engine having forced the snow on the
left side up to a height of fully twenty feet. Only a small portion of
the engine and carriages was visible, and the scene is described as a
remarkable one.

The travellers were at once conducted by their rescuers to Youlditch
Farm, where Mr. Gard treated them with much kindness, and took care of
the ladies and children. The gentlemen subsequently made their way on
to Okehampton, where they were detained for several days. The guard,
engine-driver, and fireman were not able to leave the train until the
following day, when a breakdown gang was employed to cut a passage for
the train through the snow--a task that occupied nearly the whole of
the week.

[Illustration: SNOW DRIFT, ROBOROUGH DOWN, DARTMOOR.]

On the Launceston branch of the Great Western Railway, the down-train,
which left Tavistock at seven o'clock on Monday evening, remained
embedded in the snow outside Horrabridge for several days. Between
the Walkham Viaduct and Grenofen tunnel very heavy work had to be
done, a deep cutting being not only choked by the snow, but quite a
score of trees having been blown across the rails. The accompanying
illustration, depicting a snow-drift in this locality, from a
photograph by Mr. Sheath, of George-street, Plymouth, conveys an
excellent picture of the heavy masses of snow that had accumulated on
this part of Dartmoor.

A passenger by the train which left Penzance at 6·25 P.M. on Monday and
arrived at Plymouth at 3 P.M. on Tuesday, has supplied an interesting
account of the blockage near Grampound Road. The train, containing
about a dozen passengers, was only a quarter of a mile above Grampound
Road Station when it encountered a drift of snow fully twenty feet
high. It was impossible to proceed or to retreat, for the blinding
storm had drifted more snow on to the line behind, so that passengers
left the train and crossed some fields back to the village, and found
shelter at the Grampound Road Hotel. It was then about 10·30 P.M. The
guard Kelly remained on the train, and the under-guard Hammett walked
back to Grampound Road and wired to Liskeard for a relief engine. He
then walked on to meet an engine which had been sent for from Truro,
and returned to the train on it. A relief gang arrived from Lostwithiel
under engine-driver Harris, and the men dug at the drift until eleven
A.M. on Tuesday, when the train was able to proceed. One of the workers
described the cold as so intense that the snow froze on the men's
clothes, practically encasing them in ice, and the under-guard Hammett,
who had been at the work for over twenty years, said he never had such
an experience, and even in the terrific storm of 1881 the snow was not
so blinding.

Another passenger who travelled by the 6·50 Great Western up-train
from Plymouth on Monday returned by a somewhat roundabout route, and
he thus described his experiences: Hemerdon was reached without
any delay on the journey, but at that point the train was drawn up
for about three-quarters of an hour, to allow a down-train to pass.
It then proceeded slowly in face of a terrific gale, accompanied by
blinding snow. After leaving Cornwood, a grating sound on the roof of
the carriage suggested broken wires, and this was followed by a jerk
and a stoppage, and the interesting announcement that one coach and
the engine were off the rails, and embedded in a snowdrift. There was
nothing for it but to wait, and the "wait" lasted the whole night.
There was nothing to eat for anybody, and the forty or more passengers
(amongst whom were several ladies) had to make their night watches as
comfortably as was possible under the circumstances in the Langham
cutting! It seems that the driver and one of the guards succeeded in
reaching Ivybridge, about a mile away, in the late evening, but no
notice of the proximity of the village was given to the passengers. On
Tuesday morning a small party from Ivybridge, under Messrs. Brown and
Greenhough, two engineers superintending the alterations to the line
in the neighbourhood, came to the rescue of all who were willing to
face the blinding storm. Only four consented to go, and they were very
thankful to exchange the cold comfort of the railway carriage for the
hearty hospitality offered by these gentlemen in Ivybridge.

The officials here do not seem generally to have been equal to the
exigencies of the situation, no notice of their whereabouts being
given to the passengers, nor any organised attempt made at rescue or
provisioning, but a porter and a packer from Ivybridge station arrived
about daybreak with whisky and brandy. When the four passengers
referred to were leaving at about 9·30 on the Tuesday morning, bread
and butter and tea were being dispensed. Many of the remaining
passengers were hospitably accommodated by Miss Glanville at her house
close to the half-buried train, the ladies being assisted thither by
the engineers and their party. Another train was detained at Ivybridge
Station, and the passengers from it were lodged in the village.

In West Cornwall three trains were snowed up. The train which left
Plymouth at five o'clock on Monday night and should have reached
Penzance at 8·45, arrived there at eleven. The "Dutchman" which should
have, in the ordinary course of things, followed within fifteen
minutes of this train, did not arrive at all, and news soon reached
Penzance that the fast train was snowed up, but in what spot was only
ascertained with much difficulty. A train was at once got ready, and
on it Mr. Blair, the station-master, Mr. Ivey, the superintendent of
the locomotive department, Mr. Glover, and a breakdown gang, proceeded
to Camborne, which was reached about noon on Tuesday, it having taken
about nine hours to accomplish a journey of thirteen miles. All the
way along huge drifts of snow were met with, completely blocking
the passage, and at frequent intervals the way had to be literally
cut through the drifts by the men of the breakdown gang. Thus, with
great difficulty, Hayle was reached, and from thence to Camborne the
task became almost overpowering. Here the open country favoured the
accumulation of snow, and the drifts were immense. In a deep cutting,
close to Gwinear Station, was encountered a drift of about eighty yards
long and nine feet deep.

On at length reaching Camborne it was discovered that the missing 8·45
train had left Redruth at about ten o'clock on Monday night--an hour
and a half late. The storm was then at its height, and the snow was
driving with such force that only very slight progress could be made.
The train passed Carn Brea safely, but when within sight of Camborne
Station, close to Stray Park, the engine left the metals, running on
the south side, and finally bringing up at a hedge against which it
lay on its side. Fortunately, at the time of the occurrence, speed was
slow, and nothing more serious than some damage to the rolling stock,
and the inconvenient detention of the twenty or thirty passengers
occurred. These included five ladies, who were taken to the house of
Mr. Maurice Reed, the Station Master at Camborne, the gentlemen of the
party having good opportunities of finding comfortable quarters in the
hotels of the town. Another train was embedded in fifteen feet of snow
on the Helston branch line from Gwinear Road to Helston, and the guard,
engine-driver, and stoker, with their one passenger, were compelled to
abandon the train and seek shelter in a neighbouring farm-house.

While great inconvenience and discomfort was caused by the blizzard
on the Cornish railways as a whole, no fatalities were reported, and
the work of clearing the lines, great and arduous as it was, was
accomplished in less time than in the districts above Plymouth, and in
the vicinity of Dartmoor. Communication between Plymouth and Cornwall
was opened up some days earlier than that with Totnes, Exeter, and
other towns. The scene here depicted shows the depth of snow in this
neighbourhood, and is from a photograph by A. Leamon, Esq., of Liskeard.

[Illustration: MAIN ROAD BETWEEN LISKEARD AND TORPOINT.]

Above Exeter things were not so bad. In the Tiverton district the
effects of the blizzard were rather severely felt, and communication
between some towns was for the time cut off. The railway authorities
were very active, and gangs of men were sent up from Exeter on Tuesday
to clear the lines, but they could do little more than keep the points
clear for shunting, watch the signals, and fix detonators where
required, the driving snow being so blinding, and the coldness of the
bitter wind so intense. The difficulties of the neighbourhood commenced
on Monday evening at the Whitehall tunnel, when the pilot, in front of
the express, got off the line. Daylight came before a gang of packers
sent from Taunton could effect a clearance, and instead of passing at
ten o'clock on Monday night, the express only struggled into Tiverton
Junction, with two engines attached, at half-past six on Tuesday
morning. The night mail, and the North mail followed some hours after,
and managed to get through to Exeter, but after that, until Wednesday
morning at eleven o'clock, no train could leave the junction.

After being snowed up for some hours at Burlescombe, the first part
of the newspaper train reached Tiverton at half-past ten on Tuesday
night. The train was stopped at the home signal, and so intense was the
cold that the machinery was, in a few minutes, frozen, and the train
could not enter the station. The ladies--mostly for Plymouth--who were
in the train, were carried on chairs by porters and packers to the
adjacent Railway Hotel, where they, and some of the male passengers,
were able to obtain beds for the night. The train remained in the
same position until Wednesday morning. In a siding also stood a slow
train, which should have reached Tiverton on Tuesday at ten in the
morning, but which did not get in until the afternoon. The passengers
by this train were transferred to the first down-train that was got
out from Tiverton on Wednesday. The second part of the newspaper train
remained at Burlescombe all Monday night. The store of provisions in
the hamlet was already exhausted, and although as much as a guinea was
offered for a bed by some of the passengers, neither food nor sleeping
accommodation could be obtained. A very uncomfortable night was passed
in consequence, and many of the ladies suffered severely from hunger
and exposure.

H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, on his way to Devonport, was snow-bound
at Taunton on Tuesday night, but with about two hundred other
passengers, was able to proceed on his journey at the end of the week.

His Royal Highness afterwards conveyed to the Directors of the
Company his appreciation of the courtesy and attention he received
from the officials and servants of the Great Western Railway, on his
journey during the gale and snowstorm, and during his detention at
Taunton, on March 11th and 12th, and particularly thanked the Taunton
station-master for his services.

At Brent, one of the most exposed railway towns on Dartmoor, the Zulu,
from London, which was due at Plymouth at 8·55 on Monday night, came to
grief, and a number of passengers spent several days of that week in
this very bleak locality. Especial discomfort appears to have prevailed
here, probably on account of the difficulty of obtaining assistance or
information from any neighbouring town, and from the limited resources
for personal comfort that the town afforded. There can be no doubt
that the experiences of the first two days and nights must have been
wretched in the extreme. After two hours waiting in the carriages, in
a state of considerable doubt as to what was to happen, the travellers
found themselves at length at the Brent station. Here there was neither
refreshment nor accommodation, but the hotels of the town were made
for. Quarters were difficult to obtain, however, as a large number of
contractors men working on the new line of railway were residing in the
place. On Monday night many passengers lay upon the floor, using their
overcoats for pillows, and their rugs for coverings. A Mr. Stumbles, a
commercial traveller, who was one of the Brent unfortunates, gave an
account of his experiences to a representative of the _Western Morning
News_, which has led to much subsequent controversy, and to a shower of
letters, conveying many diverse opinions, being sent in to the editor
of that paper. It appears that there were about forty passengers in the
train, and that many of these remained at the station all night, either
in the train or in the waiting-room. Next day Brent was visited, and
refreshments were bought at, as Mr. Stumbles says, famine prices.

The account referred to goes on to say:--"One gentleman bought a bottle
of brandy, for which he had to pay 6_s._, the inns charged us double
price for ordinary meals, and some establishments refused to supply us
at all, probably thinking that a famine was impending. We returned to
the station as best we could, through the great drifts of snow, and,
with such provisions as we could buy, did the best we could, cooking
such things as bloaters in the station waiting-room. Our scanty
supply, I must say, was most generously supplemented from the small
stores which the railway officials, such as signalmen and others,
had with them. There were a number of sailors and soldiers amongst
the passengers, and most of them were without means. One gentleman
gave them a sovereign, and ladies from Brent also brought them money,
tobacco, and provisions during our stay. On the following monotonous
days we spent our time in smoking and in conversation, and also in
'chaffing' the station-master, whom we christened 'Dr. Parr.' On
Wednesday an enterprising amateur photographer from Brent took several
views of our snowed-up train, with the eighteen or twenty passengers
who stuck by it perched in various prominent positions upon it. We all
united in praising the minor officials, and the men in charge of the
train, for remaining faithful to us, and excused the want of sympathy
of 'Dr. Parr' on account of his age. The driver kept the fires of his
engine going all the time, but his boilers had to be filled with water
by hand, and in this work valuable assistance was readily given by
the soldiers and marines in the train. Just before we were enabled to
leave Brent, we were visited for the first time by the clergyman of the
parish, and our final leave-taking was celebrated by three sarcastic
cheers for 'Dr. Parr' and for 'Brent.' The passengers in this train
included Lieutenant Rice, of the Essex Regiment; Mr. R. Bayly, J.P., of
Plymouth (who succeeded in getting through to his home on Wednesday)
Miss Sykes, and a nurse who was travelling from Scarborough to the
South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital, Plymouth."

It is only fair to the station-master at Brent, and to the residents
of the town generally, to repeat that this description has been
extensively contradicted, and among others, by Mr. Robert Bayly, of
Plymouth, who was another of the detained passengers. Mr. Stumbles,
however, has adhered to his description, and in more than one instance
his version has been supported. Among other interesting details of the
week in Brent, is the account of the arrival of the first newspaper, a
copy of the _Western Morning News_, which was brought over from Totnes
on the Thursday morning by an adventurous policeman, who successfully
undertook the dangerous walk. This paper was eagerly sought after, it
having been the first account of the doings in the outer world seen
since Monday, and one of the enforced sojourners in Brent is said to
have paid five shillings for the use of the paper for one hour. The
fortunate possessor of the journal declared that he had been offered
two pounds for it, and had declined to trade.

At Totnes a number of passengers were detained, among them being a
reporter of the _Western Morning News_, who went to the town on Monday
to report a meeting, and was only released on the following Friday
night. A number of passengers who left Friary Station, Plymouth, by the
3·47 P.M. South Western train on Thursday, were taken into Tavistock on
the following day, after having spent the night at Lydford. Instances
innumerable of the same character occurring on the Launceston and other
lines could be related, but as their points of interest bear such a
strong resemblance to each other, it is unnecessary to proceed further
with them.

Thursday, March 12th, was a day of very severe weather, and the efforts
of the hundreds of men working on the various lines to clear the snow
and also to release some of the buried trains were seriously retarded.
By the end of the week, however, things were beginning to assume their
normal aspect, and the trains were running with tolerable punctuality.
The telegraph service, in a deplorable condition of collapse throughout
the week, was restored, and the masses of accumulated correspondence
in the post offices were sent on to their destinations. The labour of
clearing the lines was as dangerous as it was arduous, and unhappily
an accident, proving fatal to one man, occurred during the operations
on the Great Western Railway at Ivybridge. Work was being carried on
at this spot under the superintendence of Mr. C. E. Compton, and a
number of men were engaged in getting an engine on to the line, when
a train dashed round a curve among the workmen killing one, named
William Stentiford, of Plymouth, and seriously injuring two others. The
lamentable occurrence was purely accidental, and that this was the only
fatal occurrence during the whole of the operations of this most trying
week indicates the care that was taken by all those engaged on the
railways from the highest officials downwards. Such an experience was
never before met with, and it was a matter of congratulation that those
in power were able to cope with the difficulties as well as they did.
No doubt some practical lessons were learnt during the operations, and
should such a visitation unhappily occur in the West of England on any
future occasion, the experience gained during this terrible week will
not be without value.



CHAPTER IV.

AT SEA.


Sad and disastrous as were the effects of the blizzard on land on the
night of Monday, March 9th, they were in most cases of a nature more
or less reparable. At sea, however, the case was different, and from
the afternoon of the day on which the storm commenced to the end of the
week wrecks, resulting in the loss of over fifty lives, were strewn
along the coast from Start Point to Falmouth. In most cases, such
was the fury of the gale, but little help could be afforded from the
shore. Generally, to launch a boat or to use a rocket apparatus was
out of the question, and those on the shore, anxious to send help to
the doomed vessels, had great difficulty in escaping from being blown
into the sea. In many instances gallant services were rendered, and
all that courage and self-sacrifice could do with the hope of saving
life was accomplished; but the time was one of no common peril, and on
the Tuesday lives were lost in full view of the cliffs upon the rocky
fringes of which the vessels had been driven.

In Plymouth Sound, and the Hamoaze, well protected as they are from the
gales of winter, much damage was done on Monday night. In addition to
the accident to the _Lion_ and _Implacable_, and the critical position
of the Queen's harbour-master's cutter already briefly described,
the _Julia_, a small coastguard cutter, moored inside Drake's Island,
parted her moorings during the early hours of Tuesday morning, and went
ashore on Bottle Nose, a point eastward of Devil's Point. She was badly
knocked about, but there were no men on board at the time. Whilst the
heavy squalls were on Tuesday morning the _Impregnable_, training-ship
for boys, Captain Harris; the _Cambridge_, gunnery school ship, Captain
Carr, and the _Achilles_, battle ship, all dragged their moorings, but
not to any alarming extent. Staff-Captain Burniston, who, with the
dockyard tugs under his command, was afloat during the whole of Monday
night, and on Tuesday, under very trying circumstances, succeeded in
getting out fresh anchors and hawsers to make the vessels secure for
the night, a course which was wisely adopted, as the hurricane showed
no signs of abating, there being, on the contrary, another great fall
in the barometer. The men who were on board the tugs on Monday night,
speak of the weather as being the worst that they ever experienced, and
the manner in which they did their work under such trying circumstances
was, as was the case so frequently throughout that, and several
succeeding days, most praiseworthy.

Considerable damage was done during Monday night to many of the hookers
belonging to the fishermen of Kingsand and Cawsand. The full force of
the blizzard was experienced in Cawsand Bay, and ten of the hookers
which had been moored up for the night were driven ashore and sunk. The
only boat which rode out the storm was a craft owned by Mr. Andrews
of Cawsand. A pilot boat went ashore in one of the little coves just
south of the coastguard station, and a small fishing vessel was wrecked
close under Lady Emma's Cottage, at Mount Edgcumbe.

The captain of the Norwegian galliot _Falken_, from Shields, with coal
for Portugal which was found on Tuesday off Fowey, by the tug _Belle of
Plymouth_, half full of water, and with her sails blown away, stated
at the time that on Monday his vessel was caught in a kind of small
cyclone, and that whilst about twenty miles south-west of Start Point
he had a strange experience. The vessel was being driven along at a
furious rate by a north-easterly gale, whilst ahead, within sight, a
westerly wind was blowing. This bears out the theory of the cyclone
to some extent, as on other parts of the coast the gale was found
to blow only from the north-east or south-east, in rapid changes.
The Channel was very rough at the time, and the vessel was greatly
endangered. On Tuesday the boats were smashed, and the sails carried
away. Pumps were manned, and kept working so long as the crew could
hold out, the endeavour being to reach one of the ports. It was while
the _Falken_ was in this condition that the _Belle_ came opportunely
to her assistance, and towed her into Plymouth harbour, where she was
laid up alongside Bulteel's Wharf, in the Cattewater, to discharge
her cargo and be repaired. Several of the Lowestoft boats, and other
fishing vessels which had been out in the Channel on the Monday night,
returned to Plymouth on Tuesday, and reported having experienced very
bad weather. The sudden squalls encountered were terrific, and the
oldest fishermen on board declared that they had never experienced
such violent weather on the Devonshire coast.

During the height of the storm the schooner _Alice Brookall_, from
Swansea to Jersey with coals, ran ashore at Mutton Cove, near Godevy
Hayle. She ran so far in that the crew--five in number--managed to
drop from the bowsprit on to the rocks. The poor fellows had to pass
the night exposed to the fury of the storm, with no other protection
than they could mutually afford each other by huddling together. At
daybreak they climbed the cliffs, and managed to reach the shelter
of a farm-house. The vessel soon went to pieces. The schooner
_Perseverance_, of Preston, Dandy, master, from Swansea to Salcombe,
with coals, ran ashore a mile east of Hayle Bar. The crew of four
remained by her during the night, and landed at daybreak. Both vessels
experienced fearful weather on the way down Channel, the sea running
mountains high. No one knew of their position until twenty-four hours
after they struck.

At Exmouth, Dawlish, and Teignmouth, although the force of the wind was
great, and all three towns sustained damage, there were no calamities
at sea. Great injury was done to the pleasure and fishing boats at both
of the latter places, but Teignmouth was not so unfortunate as Dawlish
in this respect. Its harbour is almost land-locked, and from the beach
where the boats are moored, as well as from the quays, the eye glances
north-west and south-west upon a beautiful picture of river scenery,
of which the distant Dartmoor Hills and the Haldon Heights form the
background. The accompanying illustration, from a photograph by Messrs.
Valentine & Son, of Teignmouth, taken during the week of the blizzard,
depicts one part of this scene in as wintry a garb as any it has worn
during the last half century. The village of Shaldon, on the opposite
side of the Teign, lies exposed to a S.E. gale blowing across the
low-lying sands of the Teignmouth "Point," and here the owners of
fishing and other craft had much to lament in the way of destruction to
their floating property.

[Illustration: TEIGNMOUTH JETTY, WITH HALDON HEIGHTS.]

In Torbay a French brig, the _Emilie_, of Cherbourg, was driven ashore
at Hogg's Cove, under Berry Head, at about four o'clock on Tuesday
afternoon. The coastguards and Royal Naval Reserve, under the direction
of Mr. Drayton, chief officer of coastguard, and assisted by a large
number of fishermen, got out the rocket apparatus, and the crew, eight
in number, were quickly landed. They were at once invited to the house
of the Misses Hogg, at Berry Head, and provided with refreshments. The
vessel was badly injured, and became a total wreck.

The ketch _Sunshine_, of Faversham, from London to Exmouth, with
manure, was fallen in with on Thursday at noon, by the Brixham
fishing ketch _Inter-Nos_, Berry Head bearing north-west, and distant
twenty-five miles. She had her mainsail blown away, and her boats
and water-casks washed overboard. When fallen in with, the crew were
without water to drink, and their vessel was labouring heavily in the
trough of the sea. The _Sunshine_ was taken in tow by the _Inter-Nos_,
£250 being agreed upon for the service, and both vessels arrived at
Brixham on the same night. The fishing ketch _Gertrude_ arrived in
Brixham on Thursday, having on her deck the boat of the _Crusader_, of
Aberystwith, which she had picked up in the channel with eight hands on
her, and landed at Falmouth on Friday. The ketch _Annie_ also arrived,
with sails blown away, and her ballast shifted. The _Olive & Mary_ and
the _Pickwick_, ketches, had their sails blown away and their bulwarks
damaged. All the crews described the gale as the heaviest they had
ever been out in, and one skipper stated that he had seen four vessels
founder without being able to render assistance. Later news has not,
however, verified this story.

Some trawlers were reported during the week as missing from Brixham,
but in course of time anxiety on their account was removed, and they
either reached home or news of their safety was received from other
ports to which they had run for shelter. Some Plymouth trawlers were
also in difficulties, and it was feared that they had been wrecked, but
in a few days their whereabouts was ascertained, and it was discovered
that they had escaped with somewhat severe damage.

Start Point was on Monday night and again on the succeeding Tuesday a
scene of some heartrending disasters. Many vessels, including the iron
steamer _Marana_, 1,682 tons register, belonging to Messrs. George Bell
and Co. of Liverpool; and the full-rigged ship _Dryad_, 1,035 tons
register, owned by J. B. Walmsley, of Water Street, Liverpool, were
totally wrecked within a short distance of each other, resulting, it is
calculated, in an aggregate loss of over fifty lives. The _Marana_ left
Victoria Dock, London, at 11 A.M. on Sunday, March 1st, with a crew of
twenty-eight. She was bound for Colombo with a cargo of sleepers, but
was proceeding first to Swansea for coal. Whilst going down Channel
on Monday night she encountered the gale which, charged with blinding
snow, was blowing heavily from the S.E., and struck on the Blackstone
Rock, at Start Point. Seeing that the vessel must go to pieces very
shortly, the officers and crew took to the boats, most of them having
life-belts on. The starboard lifeboat, in charge of the boatswain and
with twenty-two men on board, proceeded in the direction of Prawle
Point, and was almost immediately followed by a smaller boat in which
were the captain, the chief engineer, the mess-room steward, and three
seamen. The latter boat was soon separated from the lifeboat, and was
never seen again. The lifeboat got under the coastguard station at
Prawle, but the appearance of the coast was threatening, and the crew
pushed off again. Almost immediately a sea struck the boat and capsized
her. A bitter struggle for life on the part of the twenty immersed
seamen succeeded, and those who had clung to the boat managed to get
her righted, and clambered on board, but soon after she was again
turned over. Once more she righted, and eventually drifted on to the
Mal Rock to the east of Prawle Point, where the four occupants--all
that remained of the crew of the vessel--contrived to get on to the
rocks.

After a while they climbed the cliff, three of them carrying the fourth
survivor, who was suffering from exhaustion and injuries, and after
heavy toil they managed to get near to Prawle. Here two of the men
agreed to remain with the shipmate, who to all appearance was fast
succumbing to exhaustion, while the other went into the village for
help. The man, like his three surviving comrades, was a Swede, and
consequently unable to make himself understood, but Mr. Perry, Lloyd's
signalman at Prawle, and the coastguardsman on duty, supplied him with
food and clothing, and then went to search for traces of the wreck
which had clearly taken place not far off. It was not until long past
midnight that the mates of the Swede were discovered, and then it was
too late to save the exhausted man, who died almost immediately after
their arrival. The remaining survivors were taken into Prawle, and
under kind treatment soon recovered.

Mrs. Briggs, wife of one of the lighthouse keepers at the Start, says
that she was looking out of her window a little after half-past five
o'clock on Monday evening, when she saw the steamer pass very close
to the east side of Start Point as if she had come out from the bay.
Seeing her great danger, and thinking it was impossible for her to
clear the rocks running off from the Point, she hastened to another
window, from which she had a view of the Blackstone Rocks. She then saw
the steamer broadside on to the rocks. She at once gave an alarm to
Mr. Jones, the head-keeper, who hurried out to give any assistance in
his power, but within a very few minutes the vessel parted in two, the
stern part sinking near the rocks, while the fore part washed away and
sank a short distance to the west of the Start.

Mr. Crickett, chief officer of Coastguards at Hallsands, has stated
that he received intelligence of the casualty at 6·40 P.M. by a
messenger sent by Mr. Jones, of the Start Lighthouse, who said the
vessel had struck the rocks about 500 yards south-east of the Start.
He immediately despatched a messenger to Prawle, a distance of nearly
five miles, for the life-saving apparatus. Another messenger he sent
to Torcross to Mr. Ridge, the chief officer of Coastguards there, and
Mr. Crickett then proceeded to the scene of the wreck, but on arriving,
nothing could be seen of the vessel, as she had totally disappeared,
and she was supposed to have gone to pieces five minutes after she
struck. The coastguard at Hallsands say that they saw the _Marana_
fully an hour before she struck, and she was then near the Skerries
Bank, off the Start, acting in such a manner that they considered her
steering gear was out of order. They saw her come into the bay and
afterwards go out again, and watched her very closely, but they thought
she had gone clear of the Start until they heard otherwise from the
lighthouse-keepers.

John Nelson, one of the survivors, said in the course of his evidence
at the inquest held on the first eight bodies recovered from the
wreck:--"On Monday, 9th inst., I had tea at five o'clock, and went to
my bunk. It was the first mate's watch. As I was turning into my bunk
I heard someone shout out, 'Land right ahead.' It was blowing a bit
stiff in the afternoon at three o'clock, and as the gale increased
the canvas was taken in. The vessel struck almost immediately after I
heard the shout, and the engines were going full-speed at the time. I
came out and stood in the forecastle door. The captain was then on the
bridge. The vessel struck first at the bow. When I came on deck she
struck aft as well, knocking her propeller and rudder away. The captain
then gave the order to get the starboard lifeboat ready for launching.
All the three officers were on the bridge. The wind was blowing hard,
and the waves were dashing all over the ship. It was daylight, but the
Start light was lit. We could see the land plainly enough, although
it was thick with heavy rain. There were two lifeboats, one on each
side of the ship, and two smaller boats. We lowered the lifeboat and
got into it, some 20 or 22 being in it, and got away from the ship on
the starboard side. The boat was in charge of the boatswain, and the
second and third engineers and the chief steward were in the boat. We
left on board the captain, the three mates, the chief engineer, and the
mess-room steward. Just as we were turning to get clear of the rocks,
we looked at the ship, and saw the captain and the others leave in the
other boat on the starboard side. They got safely away from the ship.
After the vessel struck we hoisted a red pennant with a white ball as
a signal of distress. When we got away it was getting dark, and we saw
nothing of the other boat afterwards, but supposed they were following
us. We pulled in shore to a kind of bay, but not thinking it safe to
land, we went out of that. We could see nothing but rocks on our coming
down, and in getting out of the bay our boat capsized. There was a
very heavy sea running up against the rocks. We got hold of the keel
of the boat, some twelve or fourteen of us that remained, and then the
boat turned over again. After that only four or five of us remained
sticking to the boat. We stuck to the boat until she broke up on the
rocks. When I let go the boat I could feel the rocks with my feet, and
I then walked on shore. There were four of us that came on shore, but
I could see nothing of any others. When we got on shore we walked to a
brake and got shelter. We had to help Rasmossen up, as he had no boots
on. He was living half an hour before the coastguards found us, but we
had been on shore a long time before they found us--about five or six
hours."

Many of the bodies of the unfortunate men were washed ashore within a
few days, and not far from the spot where the vessel went down. All
of them were not identified, as the survivors had joined the ship too
recently to be acquainted with all the officers and crew.

Another serious calamity in Start Bay occurred during Monday night,
and not many hours later than the wreck of the _Marana_, when the
ship _Dryad_, bound for Valparaiso, with a crew of 22 hands all
told, went ashore about a mile to the eastward of Start Point. When
the ship went on shore Mr. Hewett, with the life-saving apparatus,
had left Hallsands for Prawle, from whence rumours of disaster had
been brought, and he had got as far as Chevilstone Cross when he was
overtaken by a mounted messenger despatched by the chief officer of
the coastguard at Torcross, who desired him to return to the Start to
the assistance of the _Dryad_. He got to the scene of the wreck at
half-past two in the morning. By that time the vessel had broken up,
all her masts having gone overboard, and but little of her could be
discerned in the darkness. The place where she struck was right under
the high land of the Start where the cliffs are very precipitous. With
regard to this vessel, the coastguardsmen say that they saw no signals
of distress whatever, and it has been considered probable that she was
proceeding with a fair wind down Channel, and no land being visible in
the snow-filled gloom of the night, those on board were unconscious of
their proximity to the land until they found themselves on the rocks.
In this case there was, perhaps, no time to show distress signals, and
the ship may have been some time ashore before she was discovered by
the coastguards.

About midnight on the ninth, the storm was at its height, and all men
of Start Bay agree that they never remember such a violent storm, the
water of the bay being one mass of foam, it being almost impossible
to look to the windward. Mr. Jones, the head keeper of the Star
Lighthouse, says he was standing in the yard by his home a little after
midnight, looking in the direction of the Bay, when he saw right under
the headland, and close to the Start, what he considered to be a ship's
lights. He called the other keepers, and as well as they were able they
got down to the place where they saw the lights. It was at the risk of
their lives that they went down the cliffs, and it was only by holding
on to each other they were prevented from being blown away. When they
got down they could not discover a vestige of anything, neither did
they hear a cry of any sort. The coastguards at Hallsands also saw
lights, and fired off a rocket and burned a blue light to warn the ship
of her danger, but the vessel's lights were only seen a few minutes
before they disappeared.

In spite of all the efforts of those on shore no trace of a ship could
be seen, and it was not until daybreak the next morning that a man
was discovered lying on a low rock, known as John Hatherley's Nose,
some 500 yards from the spot where the _Dryad_ ultimately proved to
have struck. Help was at once sought for, and Mr. Briggs, one of the
keepers, and Mr. Pollyblank, the coastguard, then returned to the rock
with ropes. They threw the rope on to the rocks, which fell only about
a foot away from the sailor. He saw it and then slid down, evidently
with the intention to secure the rope, but he seemed to be afraid,
and instead of slipping on the lower ledge of the rock where the rope
was, he climbed on the top of the rock again, and laid himself flat on
it on his face and hands. He then seemed to lose his hold, and slid
down, holding on to the rocks for several seconds, when he fell head
over heels, and was washed away and drowned. Those trying to rescue
him, seeing how exhausted he was, had fetched a ladder to get to him,
and Mr. Briggs fastened a rope to himself to swim out to him, but in
the meantime he was washed away. He was a young man. Grave doubts
were expressed as to what vessel he came from, for it seems almost
impossible he could have got to the rocks from the _Dryad_; and there
was some wreckage visible near the rocks that did not appear to have
belonged to the _Dryad_. The coastguards at Hallsands said distinctly
that the lights they saw were a steamer's lights, whilst there is no
doubt that the lights the lighthouse-keepers saw were those of the
_Dryad_. Only a piece of the bow of the _Dryad_ was discovered in the
morning, but a large mass of broken wreckage was discovered along the
coast, and tons of it were washed out to sea by the next tide. Eight
bodies were recovered, and friends of those composing the crew of the
_Dryad_ journeyed to Hallsands for the purpose of identifying their
friends or relatives. There were no survivors, and consequently no
details are known, but a statement has been made that the channel pilot
had warned the captain that the ship's compass was two points out.

Whilst Mr. Crickett and some of the coastguards under his charge at
Hallsands were at the Start Point on the night of the 9th, trying
to render assistance to the stranded steamship _Marana_, they saw a
light in the bay, and they answered it by burning a blue light, and
one of the coastguards was sent back to try and discover the place the
light proceeded from. On the remainder of the coastguards returning
to Hallsands shortly after, a light was seen near Beesands, and on
reaching that place they found the schooner _Lunesdale_ stranded.
Mr. Ridge, the chief officer of coastguards stationed at Torcross,
had arrived with some of his men, and they, with the assistance of
the Beesands fishermen, were trying to effect a communication with
the vessel. The captain was in the fore starboard rigging, and the
remainder of the crew, four in number, were in the starboard mizen
rigging. All these men were thus on the weather side of the ship, and
the captain not being so exposed from his position as the others,
succeeded with the utmost difficulty in getting round to the other,
or shore side of the vessel. A fisherman named Roper, of Beesands,
then at the risk of his own life, made a desperate effort to save the
captain. He got a line with a lead attached to it, and threw it close
to the captain's feet, the latter succeeding, after a frantic effort,
to fasten the line to a lifebuoy, and attached himself to it, and was
then safely hauled on shore. The other seamen were not so successful
in changing their positions, and in their endeavours they were washed
away and drowned. All this time the seas were breaking right over the
vessel. The coastguards and fishermen remained by the vessel for nearly
an hour afterwards, shouting to see if they could get any response
from the crew, but getting none, all hope of saving them was given up.
When it was found that the Prawle life-saving apparatus, in charge
of Mr. Hewett, could be of no service to the _Marana_, a message was
left at Start farm for it to be brought on to Beesands to the help of
the _Lunesdale_, but it arrived too late to be of any service. The
_Lunesdale_ was a three-masted schooner of 141 tons register, owned by
Messrs. James Fisher & Sons, of Barrow, and was bound from London to a
Lancashire port.

While efforts were being made at Beesands to save the crew of the
_Lunesdale_, a schooner named _Lizzie Ellen_, 73 tons register, and
belonging to Mr. Samuel Coppack, of Chester, with a cargo of clay from
Charlestown for London, went on shore just opposite Hallsands. In spite
of the tremendous force of the wind and the blinding spray and snow
six fishermen, named T. Trout, George Stone, Robert Trout, James Lynn,
William Mitchell, and John Patey, at the imminent peril of their lives,
made a gallant effort to rescue the crew of the vessel, which consisted
of four hands. With great difficulty, and by the aid of ropes, these
men succeeded in lowering themselves to the bottom of the cliff. By
throwing lines on board the schooner the mate and the third hand were
saved, but the captain and the boy were lost. The captain, Robert Dood,
urged the boy, who was crying bitterly, to jump over into the sea, with
the chance of being drawn on shore, but he could not persuade him to
take the leap. At length the captain jumped himself, but at the wrong
time, and he was carried out by a receding wave. The boy, Frank Davis,
also perished.

For some time after this week of tempest, all along the coast from
Prawle to the Start, could be seen broken wreckage. Such was the fury
of the gale that everything seemed split to matchwood. It is supposed
that other wrecks than those of which some knowledge has been obtained
occurred on this eventful night. Mr. Crickett, a coastguardsman, picked
up on the following Saturday a board bearing the words "Nymph of
T----," it being broken off at the letter T, and it is conjectured that
this may belong to one of the vessels referred to. A painful sequel
to the wreck of the _Marana_ occurred on Wednesday, March 18th, nine
days after the catastrophe. A molecatcher of Prawle found at about
half-past eleven, in a field half a mile from a village named Furze
Brake, and about a quarter of a mile from the sea, the body of a man.
The corpse was lying flat upon its face, and was clothed in an oil-skin
coat in addition to the ordinary kind of seaman's dress. A life-belt
was lying close by, and the locality was not more than a hundred yards
from the spot where the two survivors from the _Marana_ had been found
supporting to the best of their power their dying comrade. Unknown to
the other survivors this man must have succeeded in reaching the shore,
but only to die. Undoubtedly he walked in search of help and shelter
until he sank from exhaustion, and was covered with a fall of snow
thick enough to screen his body from view until a thaw had set in.

The inquests held on the bodies of those unfortunate seamen who lost
their lives in the vicinity of the Start have had the effect of a
communication being made to the Board of Trade as to the necessity
of life-saving apparatus being placed at Hallsands. In the face of
a hurricane of almost unprecedented force, many gallant and eager
attempts were made to save life, but with only a very limited measure
of success, owing as much to the want of suitable appliances as to the
rugged character of the coast, and the merciless fury of the gale.

Along the coast, in the neighbourhood of Falmouth, which from its
exposed position was fully open to the strength of the blizzard, there
were more disastrous wrecks, and here also the loss of life was great.
The most serious calamity occurred at about half-past one on Tuesday
morning, and was that which, at Penare Point, near Helford River,
befell the four-masted steel ship _Bay of Panama_, of London, 2,282
tons register. This vessel, owned by the Bullock's Bay Line, was from
Calcutta, with a cargo of 17,000 bales of jute for Dundee. The captain,
David Wright, of Liverpool, his wife, all but one of the six officers,
four apprentices, and six of the crew, were either frozen to death in
the rigging or drowned. This made a loss of eighteen lives out of a
company of about forty all told.

At the village of St. Keverne, not far from Penare Point, it became
known at about noon on Tuesday that a wreck had occurred at the mouth
of the Helford River, and from there the first news of what had
occurred was conveyed into Falmouth, with great courage, and in the
face of tremendous difficulties, by Mr. J. H. James, of Old Vicarage,
St. Keverne. At one o'clock, Mr. James started on his pony for Helston
in the midst of a terrible snowstorm. His intention was to telegraph to
Falmouth, but all the wires were down, and communication was impossible
except on foot. This he undertook, and by dauntless perseverance at
length accomplished; but his experiences during the journey are among
the most thrilling personal incidents connected with the gale. After
proceeding for about two miles, he could only get along by crawling on
his hands and knees through the snow, and his face had become coated
with snow, and icicles hung from his ears. He at last found shelter
at a wayside cottage, and at daybreak next morning again set out,
reaching Falmouth at 9 o'clock, and giving information to Messrs. Broad
and Sons, who sent out steamers to the scene of the wreck. The _Bay
of Panama_ was discovered with her head to the north, broadside on to
the sea, and jammed under the Nare Head, close against the cliff. Her
mainmast was gone, and the sea was making clean breaches right over her.

Fortunately for the survivors clinging to the stranded ship, before Mr.
James had started on his adventurous journey to Falmouth, on Tuesday
morning, the rocket apparatus, in charge of the coastguard, who were
aroused by Mr. Nicholls, of Penare, had reached the scene from Helford.
The first rocket fired threw a line right over the ship, and within
fifteen minutes the whole of the survivors were safely on shore.
Chief boatman Fisher, of the coastguard, went on board the vessel
after the hands taken off to see if any one was left alive, but his
self-sacrifice was without result. Accounts of survivors, including
those of Mr. Fred Evans, boatswain's mate, Mr. Charles Higgins,
quartermaster, and Mr. Beresford, apprentice, relate that the _Bay of
Panama_ was 111 days from Calcutta when she struck. There had been
forty-two days of severe weather before reaching the western end of
the English Channel, and here severe snowstorms and heavy squalls were
encountered. At half-past eleven on Sunday night they sighted a light,
and being in a position of danger they burned several blue lights, the
captain thinking the light came from a steamer. The vessel was now
drifting to leeward without a stitch of canvas on her, and the captain
soon expressed the opinion that they were to leeward of the Lizard and
clear of all land. At half-past twelve the watch went below, put on
some clean clothes, and got into their bunks. The captain remained on
deck, his wife being in her cabin.

Within an hour from this time the ship struck and began rapidly to
fill. Most of those who had been below went forward, though the
forecastle had been burst in, and was flooded. Seas were breaking
over the vessel, and nearly all the officers were early swept away.
The second officer went to fetch a rocket, and was never seen again.
Attempts were made to get a line on shore, and one seaman is said
to have volunteered to swim the distance, but the former was found
impracticable, and in the latter case the other seamen held their
comrade back. Some of the crew took refuge in the rigging, and at
daybreak the second quartermaster died there, the mate died an hour
after, and the boatswain, in a state of delirium, jumped from the
mizzen-top into the sea and was drowned. Just before six o'clock in the
morning, the after-end of the ship broke in two, the mainmast having
previously fallen. It is said that, at the time the rescuing party
arrived on the scene, six men were frozen in the rigging. The survivors
were taken to St. Keverne Farm, which they reached at half-past ten
on Tuesday morning, and where they were kindly treated. They remained
there until four in the afternoon, when they were conveyed to Gweek
in a 'bus. From here it was absolutely necessary for them to walk to
Falmouth through the snow, and as many of them were thinly clad,
and had no boots, their trials were not over until Falmouth was
reached, where Messrs. Jewell and Burton, and Mr. and Mrs. Weir, of
the Royal Cornwall Sailors' Home, treated them with all the kindness
and attention they so much needed. Most of the bodies from the _Bay of
Panama_ were recovered, that of the Captain's wife having been found
lying on the shore early on the morning of the wreck.

Though this was the most serious wreck near Falmouth, it was far from
being the only one. Reports of wrecks and loss of life continued to be
received for many days following the beginning of the gale on Monday.
Near Porthoustock, on Monday night, the sloop _Dove_, of Topsham, was
lost, but in this case the crew were saved. The _Dove_ left Exmouth
Bight on March 8th, arriving at Plymouth Breakwater early on Monday
morning. Just after daybreak, in company with several other vessels,
she left for Falmouth. There was a strong wind blowing, which, as time
went on, increased with much violence, and was followed by a blinding
snowstorm. The captain and mate of the _Dove_, who were both at the
helm, could, they said afterwards, scarcely see their hands before
them. At about three o'clock in the afternoon the vessel was near the
Manacle Rocks, and off Porthoustock Cove, and here, while in a most
critical situation, the tremendous sea lifted the little craft clean
over the rocks, and she was washed up on the beach. The skipper threw
his little boy overboard, he and his mate following in the same way,
and all were rescued by those persons on shore. Near the same spot, the
ketch _Aquilon_, of Jersey, and the ketch _Edwin_, were reported lost
with all hands.

The steamer _Stannington_, from Newport to Exeter with a cargo of
potatoes, broke her shaft on Monday off the Longships, and was towed
into Falmouth on Wednesday afternoon. The barque _Frith_, of Lorne, 333
tons, from Hamburg to Glasgow, in ballast, was in a critical condition
on Tuesday, about ten miles south of the Lizard. She slipped from the
tug towing her, and was on her beam ends, and fast making water, when
she was picked up by the S.S. _Anglesea_, of Liverpool, and towed into
Falmouth. A German steamer, the _Carl Hirschberg_, from Hamburg to
Cardiff in ballast, drove ashore at Portscatho. The schooner _Agnes and
Helen_, of Beaumaris, went ashore on Tuesday morning in Bream Bay. A
steamship named the _Dundela_, from St. Michael for Hull, with fruit,
was totally wrecked at Portloe, near Falmouth, on Monday night. All the
crew, except a boy named Taylor, who was lost, were brought ashore over
the rocks by the aid of the fishermen and coastguard, who contrived
to get a line from the shore to the vessel. The brig _Crusader_, of
Aberystwith, from Carnarvon, with slate for Hamburg, was abandoned
at one o'clock on Tuesday off Trevose Head, with seven feet of water
in her hold. The _Crusader_ left Carnarvon at nine o'clock on Monday
morning, in fine weather. It remained fine up to six o'clock the same
evening, when severe weather was encountered. At nine o'clock, off the
Bishop, it was blowing a gale, and the brig was fast making water.
The pumps were kept going until one o'clock on Tuesday afternoon,
when it was found impossible to keep the water under. The brig was
therefore abandoned, having seven feet of water in her hold. The
captain and crew, seven all told, took to the boat, in which they were
tossed about for nineteen hours, enduring great privation. The weather
was bitterly cold, and the men were almost frozen. One of the crew,
Thomas Owen, succumbed to his sufferings at four o'clock on Wednesday
morning. "Another two hours in the boat," remarked Captain Williams,
"and we should have all perished." To keep the boat from being swamped,
she rode with sea-anchor out, and everything was thrown overboard,
including spare clothes. At eight o'clock on Wednesday morning, when
thoroughly exhausted, they were fortunately picked up by the fishing
smack _Gertrude_, about thirty miles off the land, and arrived at
Falmouth on the same day. The crew were received at the Sailors' Home.

The crew of the Netherlands barque _Magellan_ were taken into Falmouth
on the evening of Sunday, March 16th, the vessel having foundered on
the previous Thursday in the Channel, in lat. 47·48 N., long. 6·53 W.

A large number of minor accidents at sea occurred on this part of the
coast, and while the Channel outside contained numerous traces of
floating wreckage, disabled vessels of all descriptions were either
being towed or making their way into Falmouth. Rumours of missing
vessels were being continually received, and the time was one of great
anxiety. All the help that could be given was needed for those who
had escaped with their lives, and others who were known to be still
at sea, probably in situations of peril, and this assistance was very
willingly afforded. Most efficient and welcome aid was rendered by the
local Branch of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Aid Society to the distressed
crews. The captain and crew of the _Crusader_ (six men), the crew of
the _Agnes and Helen_, the crew of the _Dungella_ (eleven men), and
the survivors of the crew of the _Bay of Panama_ (sixteen men) were
provided with free railway passes to their several homes, and each man
supplied with food for the journey, by the hon. agent of the society at
that port (Mr. F. H. Earle), who also boarded, lodged, and otherwise
provided for the crews of the two first-named vessels, the men being
more or less destitute. The homes of the men were Bangor, Aberystwith,
and other places in Wales, and London, Liverpool, Hull, and Great
Yarmouth. At a public meeting held in the public hall on Tuesday
evening, many promises for subscriptions towards a fund in aid of the
boatmen were received.

Some dissatisfaction was expressed that during the wrecks at
Porthoustock and Porthalla, on March 9th, when about thirty lives
were lost, no life-boat had been launched, and the National Lifeboat
Institution sent to St. Keverne, about a fortnight after the
occurrence, Commander Biddors, R.N., who made inquiries into the
matter. It appeared on investigation that some of the life-boat crew
did not readily respond to the call signals, their explanation being
that they did not hear or see them. When they arrived at the life-boat
station the storm had increased, and it was dangerous to put to sea.
A proposal for the provision of a smaller life-boat, requiring fewer
oars, has been submitted to the life-boat committee.

Off Scilly, several accidents occurred, but they were neither so
numerous nor attended with the same fatal results as those on the
coast further east. The ketch _Aunt_, Bude, was taken into Plymouth
in a disabled condition, and with only two of the crew that remained
severely ill from frostbites. On Saturday morning, 14th March, when
in latitude 7·20 W., and longitude 48·7 W., about 233 miles S.SW. of
Scilly, the _Astrea_, Captain Burton, sighted the _Aunt_ some miles off
with her sails down and flying a signal of distress. She bore down upon
her, and Captain Burton sent alongside a boat's crew, who found the
captain, H. Hines, and a sailor named Jewett wrapped in the mainsail
in a shocking state, and scarcely able to speak. Their hands and legs
were also so much swollen from frostbites and exposure that they could
not handle anything or lift themselves up or stand. Brandy and medicine
were administered to them, and after a time they sufficiently recovered
to be able to inform their rescuers that the _Aunt_ was ten days out
from Sandersfoot with coals. Four days before a lad named Stapleton had
died from exposure, and his body was thrown overboard.

A serious collision, resulting in the loss of twenty-two lives,
happened during the week of the gale about 140 miles south-west of
Scilly, at 9 o'clock on the evening of Friday the 13th March. Two
vessels, the _Roxburg Castle_, of Newcastle, a steamship of 1,222 tons
register, and the _British Peer_, ship, 1428 tons, came into collision
just as the gale that had been blowing all the week was moderating, and
the steamer was struck with considerable force by the _British Peer_
a little abaft the funnel. She was almost cut in two, and filled so
rapidly that in about ten minutes she sank, losing twenty-two out of a
total of twenty-four hands. As a further result of the collision, the
_British Peer_ had her bows stove in, and carried away her bowsprit,
jibboom, and head gear. The forward bulkhead held good, and kept the
vessel afloat. After the collision nothing could be done to save the
lives of the crew of the _Roxburg Castle_, although their piteous cries
for help were plainly heard on the _British Peer_. Captain Tyrer, a
splendid swimmer, whilst in the water combated the waves, took his
clothes off in the water, and was picked up by the _British Peer_, as
was also one of the seamen, an A.B. The drowned men are reported to
be principally from Newport. After the _Roxburg Castle_ had sunk, the
_British Peer_ was fallen in with, about ninety miles south-west of the
Wolf Rock, by the steamship _Morglay_, of Southampton, Captain Hughes,
from Cardiff to Marseilles, and towed to off the Manacles, where she
was transferred to the tug _Triton_, and taken into Falmouth harbour.
Captain Tyrer was very much knocked about during his swim to the
_British Peer_.

The Hamburg American Company's steamship _Suevia_, 2,440 tons, had a
narrow escape in the Channel on Monday night. The _Suevia_ passed the
Lizard on Monday morning, and there were then evident indications of
a coming storm. At 11 A.M. the wind began to blow heavily from the
north-east, and at 2·30 P.M. it raged with hurricane fury, accompanied
by a blinding snowstorm. The seas ran very high, and the ship laboured
heavily. At about three o'clock, when eight miles east of the Start
Point, the engineer reported that the lower pressure piston rod had
given out, and that in consequence the machinery was disabled. An
endeavour was then made to work the other engine, but unsuccessfully,
and sail was then put on the vessel. By this means she was prevented
from driving ashore during the terrific squalls that were blowing
dead on the land. After a night and day of great danger, a schooner
was sighted on Tuesday afternoon, which the captain of the _Suevia_
considered went down in one of the squalls. On Wednesday the steamer
_Acme_ was fallen in with, and on her the chief officer proceeded
to Falmouth for assistance. During Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday,
efforts were made to repair the machinery, and these meeting at last
with some success, by early on Friday the vessel was headed up channel,
and proceeded at a slow pace until the Eddystone was sighted. The
passengers of the _Suevia_ were landed at Plymouth, from whence they
were sent on to Hamburg. The distance the _Suevia_ drifted from the
scene of the accident until Friday at noon was 125 miles, and it was
very fortunate that they were able to keep clear of the coast. Steamers
from Plymouth, London, and Falmouth, the latter with the officer of the
_Suevia_ who had gone on shore for help, were looking for the vessel,
but happily their services were not required. But for the excellent
seamanship and mechanical skill of those on board, another dreadful
calamity would doubtless have been added to the long list already
recorded.



CHAPTER V.

IN TOWN AND COUNTRY.


ASHBURTON.--Enormous drifts fell at Ashburton during the blizzard,
and most of the roads were completely blocked. At Holne Turn, half a
mile from the town, there was an enormous drift a quarter of a mile in
extent, and varying in height from eight to twenty feet. Railway and
postal arrangements were pretty well adjusted by the end of the week,
and business began to proceed as usual. There were some serious losses
of stock by farmers in the neighbourhood, and apple-orchards were
greatly injured. Masses of snow lodged in the branches of the trees,
and broke them down, many of the younger trees having every branch
broken off close to the stump. In sheltered valleys the drifts of snow
were so great that scarcely a tree escaped injury. Bakers who supplied
country residents were unable to go out to them with their supplies.

BARNSTAPLE.--The chief town of North Devon had a very harsh experience.
Traffic was for some time suspended, but the inconvenience in this
respect was not nearly so great as in the south of Devon and in
Cornwall. In the districts around Barnstaple there were very heavy
losses of sheep and lambs. Farmers near Morthoe were particularly
unfortunate, nearly two hundred sheep and lambs belonging to them
having perished. Through roads and railways being blocked the markets
were greatly interfered with, and this, besides cutting off from many
of the country people their weekly supplies, was a great loss to the
tradespeople of the town.

BIDEFORD, which has already been referred to, did not suffer so
severely as many other North Devon towns. Railway communication with
Ilfracombe was entirely suspended throughout Tuesday, the 10th, but
as the weather moderated the line was cleared without any very great
amount of inconvenience having been experienced.

BODMIN.--In this important western town there was an almost entire
cessation of traffic from Monday afternoon until the closing days of
the week. The telegraphic and train services were suspended, causing
the usual amount of loss and distress. Business on the Tuesday was
entirely suspended, snow falling heavily all day, and a large quantity
of snow in the street stopped all vehicular traffic. The drifts were so
high that residents who had driven from the town on Monday could not
return, and great anxiety was naturally felt for their safety. It was
found on the following day, however, that in all cases, the travellers
were safe. Not infrequently they had been obliged to take the horses
out of their vehicles, leave traps or carriages in the roads--often
under the snow--and seek shelter in the nearest farm-house. There were
very serious losses of sheep in this district. Among others, losses
of this description were sustained by Mr. Rowse, of Llancarpe, Mr.
Glanville, of Pen Bugle, and Mr. G. Spear, of Bodmin. Many sheep were
rescued, but only after great difficulty. On Thursday night there was
again a heavy snowstorm, accompanied by a gale of wind, but it was
neither so severe nor of such long duration as the blizzard of Monday
and Tuesday.

BRENT.--This moorland town has grown famous through the snowing up at
its gates of the "Zulu" express, from London, on the memorable Monday
night. Snow fell there from Monday afternoon to Wednesday morning. A
snow-plough with three engines arrived from Newton Abbott on Thursday
morning, but for some time it was not very effective, the snow being
so high on either side of the line that as soon as the way was fairly
clear the banks in the rear of the plough toppled over, and the line
was once more blocked. The depth of the snow in the town was so great
as to be frequently above the windows and doors of the houses. A road
cutting scene was photographed at the time by Mr. Rowe, of Devonport,
to whom we are indebted for the view. The loss of cattle here was very
great, nearly every farmer having suffered. A large number of cattle,
sheep and ponies in the possession of residents of the neighbourhood
grazed upon the adjacent moor, and many of the former, at all events,
perished. Mr. Linerdon, of Yelland, lost cattle to the value of over
£100; Mr. Pinney, of Diptfort, dug out 100 sheep from the snow; while
Mr. Heath, of Brent Mills, Mr. Vooght, of Lutton, and Mr. S. Northmore
were heavy losers. Mr. Luscombe, of Hall, Harford, had on the moor
600 Scotch cattle and 1,200 sheep, a large proportion of which he
has not yet recovered. Mr. J. Smerdon, of Brent, and Mr. Hurrell,
of Bradridge, lost sheep; and Miss Maunder, Mr. B. Hingston, and Mr.
J. Hard lost ponies. Until Saturday the residents of Binnicknowle,
a village about two miles from Brent, and largely dependent upon it
for supplies of food, were unable to obtain provisions. On that day,
however, a party of labourers succeeded in cutting a footway and thus
communication was opened up.

[Illustration: CUTTING A ROAD AT BRENT.]

BRIXHAM.--This historic fishing town, which has before now witnessed
some dreadful instances of the disaster to life and property that
furious gales with blinding snowstorms can bring about, was not on the
occasion of the blizzard of 1891 allowed to pass off very lightly.
There was no loss of life, but some rather serious injuries happened
to the trawlers at their moorings. At daylight on Tuesday it was seen
that many of these had fouled each other, by dragging their anchors.
In the inner harbour most of the craft had broken adrift, running
against the quays and other places, and doing themselves all kinds of
damage. One trawler, named the _Alice_, which broke adrift at high
tide, was carried up to the head of the harbour with her bowsprit eight
feet in over the Strand, close alongside the Prince of Orange statue.
About 200 feet of the breakwater was washed away, and its pedestal was
lost. Timber in large quantities was washed away from the yards of the
principal shipbuilders, and in addition to the wreck of the French
brig, and others before mentioned, a boat was driven on the rocks at
Fishcombe, and the Seamen's Orphan Home lifeboat went ashore, and was
badly knocked about. In the town many houses were unroofed, and slates
flew about, serious damage being also done to a wall and embankment in
Higher Street. Large quantities of glass-roofing were smashed in, and a
good deal of glass was destroyed at Newmarket Hall. Many farmers lost
sheep and lambs in the snow-drifts.

BUDE.--The outside world and Bude were not so thoroughly estranged
during the days succeeding the storm as was the case in some other
instances, telegraphic communication remaining unbroken. All the other
inconveniences of the blizzard--absence of mails, presence of immense
drifts of snow, and similar discomforts--were freely experienced. There
was an anxious time among the shipping interest in the port, many of
the coasting vessels being at sea at the time the hurricane was raging.
These vessels did not all escape without calamity, but, on the whole,
the damage wrought to the shipping of Bude was not great.

CALSTOCK.--The mining town of Calstock received some rough treatment
during the Monday and Tuesday of the storm, and damage was here and
there done to house property, but as far as the town was concerned it
may be safely said to have escaped marvellously well. Bearing in mind
its exposed position on the river bank, and the many tall chimneys
that rear their heads from the hillside, it is singular that no smash
of any magnitude has to be recorded. This is all the more remarkable
when the tremendous destruction that occurred in the district, and even
close to the town, is considered. On the opposite side of the river,
the tracks leading through the woods to Buralston Station were rendered
nearly impassable by the number of trees that fell, and the whole wood
through which the path runs was a complete wreck. Mr. James, at the
Passage Inn, from which the ferry leaves to cross to Calstock, was
very unfortunate, his loss being a severe one. In addition to great
damage to his rose-trees, for which his house has for many years been
famous, the well-known blossom-covered wicker bower, standing to the
left of the house, was blown bodily away into the orchard, and almost
simultaneously his cherry and apple trees began to fall. Of these he
lost fifty-six.

One curious incident happened at the grounds of Mr. James, in the
apparently narrow escape of a couple of geese. The geese were sitting
behind a barn, with twenty-two eggs under them. During the storm of
Monday, the barn having been badly knocked about, and the whole
orchard in a state of wreck, the fate of the geese was not held in
much doubt, and the depth of the snow in the place making salvage
operations very difficult, their place of concealment was not reached
until Thursday after the storm. The snow being cleared from the back
of the barn, however, the geese were found still sitting in the same
position as that in which they had last been seen. With the exception
that they had evidently worked their heads about, keeping the cavities
large enough to give them breathing room, it was quite clear that they
had not attempted to move. Warm food and hay were at once given to
them, and they were made as comfortable as possible, and in due course,
eleven goslings were hatched from the twenty-two eggs upon which the
parent geese had sat through such a trying time. The young geese are
now as sturdy as could be desired, and Mr. James is naturally very
proud of them for having seen the light in spite of such difficulties.
The mother geese will also, in all probability, be preserved as
curiosities for some time to come.

On the other side of the river a shed belonging to Mr. Goss's
shipbuilding yards was blown down, and cattle-sheds were unroofed and
carried great distances by the force of the gale. At Danescombe Bottom,
at the foot of Kelly Rock, an iron schooner, the _Naïad_, 250 tons,
owned by Captain Samuels of Calstock, was blown over on her beam ends.
The river banks, against which the masts of the vessel struck, only
prevented her being turned completely over. After considerable labour
she was righted, but was found to have sustained some damage. At the
Rumleigh Brick-works, and at the yards of Mr. Roskelly, builder, of
Albaston, much injury was occasioned. The mineral and goods line, the
property of the East Cornwall Mineral Railway Company, running from
Calstock to Kelly Bray, near Callington was blocked with a drift of
snow some eight feet deep, and work was stopped for two days. At the
end of that time it was cleared by a gang of the company's own men
acting under the direction of Captain W. Sowden. On the same property
about fifty yards of fencing were completely levelled. Honeycomb House,
about two miles from Calstock, was damaged to the extent of about £100;
Mr. Gill, of Tray Hill, lost over 100 apple trees, and Mr. German 250
fruit trees. The heaviest damage to trees was at Cotehele Woods, the
property of the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, and overlooking Calstock, which
would appear to have received the full fury of the blast. The terrible
night passed here, and the extent of the destruction to timber, will be
found dealt with at length in the chapter on Parks and Forests.

CAMBORNE.--The change at Camborne would appear to have been an
unusually startling one, since a few days before Monday, butterflies
were to be seen flying about. Snow commenced to fall in the district
at two o'clock on Monday afternoon, and this soon developed into the
blizzard. The storm is described as the greatest and the most severe
known by the oldest residents in the parish. The telegraph wires were
blown down, and, lying across the streets, threw several horses down.
The houses were so covered with snow as to be almost unrecognizable,
and in many places the drifts were over six feet deep. Ornamental,
and other trees in the town were completely spoiled, and traffic was
suspended. Anxiety was at one time felt in the town for the safety of
four young girls, dressmakers, of Beacon village, who left the town
on the Monday evening, but it was afterwards learned that they were
all in safety. In Burse-road and Pendarmes-road the shrubs and trees
were broken down, and lay overhanging and obstructing the footpaths.
Passages had to be cut to get to the houses, half as high as the houses
themselves. A 'bus running between Camborne and Truro was snowed up
near Pool, and left in the road; and near it was an abandoned organ,
the peripatetic performer on which had been unable to bear it with him
to a place of safety.

At a village about a mile and a half from Camborne drifts of snow were
observed thirty feet deep. In the town the Board schools were closed
for the week. All communication with surrounding towns was, as a matter
of course, cut off for several days. At Beacon and Troon, adjoining
villages, people were taken from their bedroom windows by means of
ladders; and in one case, at a funeral, the coffin had to be slid down
over a snowdrift. At Breage a woman was found dead in the snow. Farmers
were busy in every direction rescuing their cattle and sheep from the
exposed positions, but the losses in the neighbourhood were very great,
hundreds of sheep being buried. Among others who suffered in this way
were Mr. Carter, of Troon, who lost nearly twenty sheep and lambs; Mr.
Hickens, of Tregear; Mr. Glasson, of Crowan; Mr. Josiah Thomas, of
Roskear, Tuckingmill; and Mr. P. Thomas, of Camborne. Several donkies
and ponies in the district perished. The little villages of Penponds,
Kehelland, and Pengegon, presented a wretched appearance, and at
Penponds especially it was impossible to distinguish any hedges. Mr. E.
Rogers, who had undertaken to carry out some funeral arrangements at
this village, was obliged to take the coffin over hedges and ditches
in order to get it to the house. At Pengegon, where the water-supply
is solely obtained from wells and springs, it was found necessary to
use melted snow for domestic purposes. The old thatched farmhouse of
Pengegon, on the Wednesday, when the sun shone, presented a strikingly
beautiful appearance, and was a prominent feature of the landscape.

The village of Treslothan also shared the effect of the storm. Trees
were damaged and blown down in large numbers, and even as late as
Good Friday snow nearly a foot deep lay on some of the paths. A large
amount of damage was also done to trees and shrubs at Reskadirmick,
the abode of Captain W. C. Vivian, the beautiful carriage drive to
the house being terribly disfigured. At the factories and mines
business operations were, for some time, entirely suspended, and it is
calculated that during the week quite a thousand persons of both sexes
were enforcedly idle. Work might have gone on at the factories, but
in many cases the operatives were unable to leave their homes. At the
mines there was great anxiety, it being feared that the engines would
stop for want of coals. Passages were, however, in time cut through,
and not more than two or three engines actually ceased working.
Cuttings were made from the railway station to South Condurrow and
Wheal Grenville mines, a distance of more than a mile. So urgent was
the need for coal at West Seaton mine on Saturday, the 14th, that forty
miners were sent to help the labourers from Portreath to make a road
from the railway to the mine. The Wheal Grenville and Newton mines
were stopped for want of coal for some days. At Dolcoath, however,
considerable difficulty was experienced on the floors in getting a
sufficient supply of water to work the stamps, owing to the leats
being blocked. At the fire stamps, in particular, both engines for a
time ceased work, and operations were not again renewed until late on
Tuesday afternoon. The openworks suffered considerably, as it took
nearly the whole of the week to clear away the snow from the frames
and huddles. The miners themselves were greatly inconvenienced owing
to some of their homes being situated at a distance from the mines,
and their being unable to get to their work; while many who had been
working underground during the afternoon, found, on coming to the
surface, that they could not reach their residences. At Crowan, the Rev.
H. Molesworth St. Aubyn, organized and worked hard with a body of men
to help in opening up communication with Camborne.

CAMELFORD.--At this place experience, for almost the entire week, was
very bitter. The residents were absolutely shut in from Monday to
Friday. The last sign of the outer world was when the North Cornwall
Coach, notwithstanding the snow already accumulated on the moors,
passed through on its way from Launceston to Wadebridge. The market
on Thursday was a dead failure, no live stock being obtainable, and
carcases very scarce. There were many narrow escapes met with, but no
actual loss of life occurred. As the week passed away provisions became
very scarce, and there was a growing alarm. On Friday, however, four
persons on horseback, unrecognizable from the quantity of snow that
covered them, entered the town in single file. The party consisted of
Mr. George Martyn, late of Trewen, Manager of the North Cornwall Coach
Company, Mr. Hicks, one of the clerks at Wadebridge, and the coachman
and guard of the coach which had gone through on Monday. The party,
who brought with them a very welcome copy of the _Western Morning
News_, held an interview with Mr. Evelyn, the Town Clerk of Camelford,
and subsequently, under the direction of the road-surveyor, a body of
men was organized to cut through the three miles of snow-covered road
between Camelford and Wadebridge, for the purpose of opening up a means
of obtaining provisions from the latter place. This was ultimately
accomplished, and by Tuesday, March 17th, the North Cornwall Coach was
once more able to run to Launceston, and the Mail, from Camelford to
Boscastle, also ran. Hundreds of sheep were lost, the drifts of snow
being so high that much time was lost in getting at those that were
buried beneath, and they were taken out dead in large numbers. Mr.
Pethick, Mr. Inch, Mr. Lobb, and Mr. Greenwood, in addition to many
farmers, suffered severely in this respect.

CARGREEN.--At this riverside village, situated on the banks of the
Tamar, the gale of Monday and Tuesday caused great havoc among the
fruit-trees. Mr. E. Elliott, of Landulph, lost about three hundred
apple-trees, many of which had been planted by himself thirty years
before.

DARTMOUTH.--At Dartmouth the storm was severe, and all telegraphic
communication was cut off during the week of the gale, but by the
following Sunday a staff of telegraphic engineers had restored
communication with Exeter by a single wire, and also with Brixham. On
one night during the week a wall gave way at the Castle churchyard and
fell on to the rocks beneath, carrying with it several tombstones, and
disturbing the coffins in the graves. At the market on Friday morning
buyers arrived in the town by train, from all parts, for the purpose
of buying provisions, but their journey was fruitless, as the farmers
had not been able to get into the town, the roads being impassable for
vehicles. Railway traffic was only partially suspended, but the first
through communication to Kingsbridge was not effected until Monday the
16th, when Mr. Sanders, driver of the Dartmouth coach, managed, with
the assistance of Mr. Cross, of Strete, Mr. Watson, of Chillington, and
a number of volunteers, to get a conveyance through from Dartmouth.
They had to cut their way through about two miles of snowdrifts, which
in many places, were upwards of six feet deep. When Mr. Sanders and his
party got to Frogmore they invited the co-operation of the villagers,
offering money and beer for help. This, however, was declined, but
the party arrived in Kingsbridge shortly before three o'clock, about
two hours later than the usual time of the arrival of the Dartmouth
coach. Messrs. Cross and Watson rendered admirable service. The only
papers delivered between Dartmouth and Kingsbridge since Monday the
9th, were the copies of the _Western Morning News_ and _Western Daily
Mercury_ distributed by Sanders along the line of route on Thursday
and Saturday. Among other damage enormous destruction was done to the
plantation at Blackpool, almost the whole of the young trees being
spoiled.

DAWLISH.--During the progress of the storm at Dawlish on Tuesday,
the Ladies' Bathing Pavilion, which stood on the beach in front of
the Marine Parade, was carried away by the sea, and almost entirely
destroyed. The pavilion was erected by a limited liability company in
1880, and the annual income accruing from it had reached between £70
and £80. The fishermen and others of this attractive watering-place
sustained great losses by the destruction of fishing and pleasure
boats. At the Coastguard Station the boathouse was partially unroofed,
and large blocks of granite were hurled a great distance. As on
Plymouth Hoe, the iron seats on the sea-wall were rolled over and
broken. Houses in various parts of the town lost chimney-tops and
slates, and some large trees, standing in the grounds of the Manor
House, were stripped of their branches. At Dawlish Water, a cow,
belonging to Mr. Dufty, was killed by a falling tree. Discomfort was
experienced by the few passengers who travelled from Exeter to Dawlish
on the night of Tuesday, by the train which should have reached the
latter town by about eight o'clock. On reaching the boathouse, near
Powderham Castle, a block in the shape of a snow-drift was encountered,
and the passengers made for a hut which was found not far off, and
a fire being got alight, they remained there until five o'clock on
Wednesday morning, when a relief engine and snow-plough, with a
carriage, arriving, they were conveyed to their destination.

ERMINGTON.--Roads everywhere here were completely blocked for a week,
and neither supplies of provisions, letters, nor newspapers were
received. The farmers were great sufferers, scores of sheep having
been buried in the snow, which in some places was fifteen feet deep.
The work of digging out the sheep commenced during the bright weather
of Wednesday, when many ewes were found to be dead, the lambs, in some
cases, being found alive by the side of the dead mothers. Instances
were met with as late as Saturday where sheep got out of the snow fresh
and vigorous, after having been buried since the Monday. At Kingston,
near Ermington, nearly thirty sheep belonging to one farm were blown
into the sea, and from Ringmore, another village in the same district,
350 sheep were lost.

EXETER.--In addition to the interference with railway traffic, and the
collapse of telegraphic communication between the capital of the county
and the other portions of Devon and of Cornwall that has been already
briefly described, great inconveniences were experienced in the city
and all the surrounding villages through the violence of the wind and
the depth of the drifts of snow. Several accidents to house property,
in the way of falling chimneys and walls, occurred, but nothing of
a particularly serious nature was heard of. Business was partially
suspended, and the streets were almost entirely deserted. Great
interest was felt in connection with the railway blocks further west,
and various exciting rumours were circulated from time to time, many
of them being, fortunately, without foundation.

EXMOUTH.--In the outlying districts in the neighbourhood of Exmouth,
a peculiarity in connection with the late blizzard that also struck
observers in many other parts of Devon and Cornwall, was very
noticeable. This singularity was that localities, commonly regarded
as the most sheltered, suffered most severely. In such situations the
drifts became impassable, and the cottagers were without fresh supplies
of provisions until footways were cleared across fields. The narrow
lanes were filled with snow. Near the Littleham Church the drift was
so deep, that a tunnel was made sufficiently wide and high for carts
to pass through. At one part of the road leading from Lympstone to
Withycombe, a lane had to be cut for a considerable distance, the drift
being five or six feet deep. By the end of the week the Exmouth streets
were all clear, and business was going on much as usual.

FALMOUTH.--Some of the disastrous effects of the blizzard at this
sea-port have already been recounted, but Falmouth was unfortunate
in other respects, besides being the scene of so many wrecks with
attendant loss of life. The weather has been described by residents
as the heaviest experienced in the district since 1853. Scarcely a
house exposed to the gale escaped injury, and in many cases property
suffered severely. Were there space to record them, innumerable
instances could be given of roofs being blown off, chimneys having
fallen, and marvellous escapes of residents having occurred during
these accidents. At the well-known "Curiosity Shop" of Mr. Burton, a
slate from some opposite premises went through a large window, and
two vases within, valued at £85, narrowly escaped destruction. The
back premises of Mr. Webber, jeweller, which overlooked the harbour,
were completely washed away, and all the fowls in the fowl-house were
drowned. In the rope-walk several fine Cornish elms were uprooted, one
of them cutting through a neighbouring roof. Telegraph wires also were
broken by the falling timber, and many huge limbs of trees were blown
down outside Grove Hill. Between Monday night and noon on Wednesday
no train arrived at or left Falmouth, and telegraphic communication
being cut off the inhabitants knew nothing of what was transpiring in
other parts. It was not until the Saturday evening that telegraphic
communication was re-established with Truro, and two hours later a wire
was got through to London. Messrs. Fox & Co., shipping agents, having
urgent telegrams to send to London, despatched them via France and
Spain. The London morning papers despatched on Tuesday reached Falmouth
on Saturday night, by which time postal affairs were commencing to be
put in order. All along the quays the damage to small craft of every
kind was immense, and the shore was strewn with wreckage and crowded
with damaged boats. At one spot on the market-strand, between the
King's Arms and the establishment of Mr. Grose, a big sail boat was
driven ashore, followed by a coal hulk belonging to Messrs. Vivian &
Sons, the latter knocking down a wall. The S.S. _Carbon_, belonging
to the Falmouth Coal Company, sank at her moorings in the harbour,
and the Harbour Board's steamer, _Armenack_, had a narrow escape of
being wrecked. About a dozen well-known residents had trawlers,
sailing-boats, and punts damaged or totally wrecked, but these form
only a small proportion of the losses by the gale. Among the fishermen
distress was great, and, as already stated on another page, a fund for
their relief was inaugurated without loss of time.

FOWEY.--At this sea-port very severe weather was experienced. The whole
country round was covered with snow, and communication by telegraph,
except to Lostwithiel and St. Austell, was impossible. Fowey does not
appear to have experienced much of the effects of the gale on Monday
night and Tuesday, but a strong wind with snow showers, visited the
town on the following Thursday. There were no casualties, and no great
loss of sheep, as, though many were buried in the snow, nearly all were
recovered.

GRAMPOUND ROAD.--Here snow commenced falling at about noon on Monday,
and continued with only a few minutes' cessation for twenty-four hours.
The blizzard nature of the storm was most severely felt, and among
other distressing events hundreds of sheep were lost. All telegraphic
communication was completely stopped. The last up-train from Penzance,
due at Grampound Road at about twenty minutes past eight in the
evening, was blocked by the snow a quarter of a mile west of the
station. The passengers were got out, and, under the guidance of some
of the villagers, made their way across the fields, and took shelter
in the hotels. Strenuous efforts were made to extricate the train,
but it was not until half-past four on the following morning that the
difficult task was accomplished, and that the passengers were enabled
to proceed on their journey. The loss of sheep in this district was
very great.

GUNNISLAKE.--Throughout the whole of Monday night the blizzard raged in
Gunnislake, and only slightly abated its force on Tuesday. Havoc was
spread on every hand, and in one case a very serious accident, that
narrowly escaped fatal consequences, occurred. This was at the house of
Mr. Bowhay, surgeon, where a neighbouring chimney crashed through the
roof and fell into the kitchen. Two servants and an infant child were
in the kitchen at the time, and one of the former was knocked to the
floor, and on being extricated was found to have had her leg broken.
The other servant girl and Mr. Bowhay's child received cuts. On the
opposite side of the road a chimney fell upon a house named East View,
crushing in the end roof of a house in which, soon after, and in a room
immediately below that into which the rubbish fell, a child was born.
Large trees, over fifty years' old, were rooted up and thrown across
the main thoroughfares. At Drakewell's Mine serious damage was done to
the roofs, and at Heath Cottage, adjoining the mine, nine tall Scotch
firs, which stood within fifteen feet of each other, were rooted up,
and left lying in all directions.

HELSTON.--At Helston, every road leading to other towns was blocked
up. No newspaper arrived, nor were any mails sent off until Saturday.
Telegraph wires and poles, and innumerable trees were blown down, the
plantations in the district suffering severely.

HEMERDON.--No less than six engines were snowed up on Monday night
in the neighbourhood of Hemerdon, many of them containing parties
despatched from Plymouth by the Great Western Railway to the relief
of the train that left Millbay Station at 6·50 on Monday night, and
was snowed up on a bridge some distance beyond the Ivybridge Viaduct.
In two cases timely rescues of drivers were effected by Mr. Harold S.
Williams, of Torridge, the story of which will be found related in a
subsequent chapter. One very sad fatality occurred to the wife of a
miner, named Ann Farley. She left Plympton on Monday afternoon to visit
her father at Hemerdon village, and setting out for her home in the
evening would appear to have lost her way, as her body was found on
Thursday evening in a field at Lobb Farm, in about three feet of snow.

HONITON.--In a path field leading from Offwell to Land Wood, in
the Honiton district, on the Sunday morning following the Monday
and Tuesday of the blizzard, the body of a man named Bidgood was
discovered. It transpired at an inquest subsequently held that the man
was a labourer, who had left work at Gittisham Hill on Tuesday evening
to proceed to his home at Offwell. After calling at the New Inn,
Honiton Hill, he was not again seen alive. The body was found, lying
flat upon its face, by Mr. F. J. Harford, who was looking for some
sheep. In many places near Honiton the snow drifts reached to a height
of twenty feet, and it was almost impossible to find the main road.
Sheep were buried in the snow in many parts of the district, and large
trees were rooted up and thrown across the road.

ILFRACOMBE.--At Ilfracombe, during Monday night, a strong gale raged,
and the brigantine _Ethel_, of Salcombe, went ashore at Combemartin
early on Tuesday morning, and became a total wreck, but the crew
were all saved. The schooner _Pride of the West_, of Padstow, had
her bowsprit carried away, under Hillsborough, and was towed into
Ilfracombe harbour. Considerable damage was done to property, and
business for a day or two was suspended. Five large trees were blown
down in the churchyard. The last train from Barnstaple to Ilfracombe on
Monday night was brought to a standstill in the Burrow cutting, where
the snow had reached a great height. The passengers were got safely
out, and proceeded to the Fortescue Hotel at Morthoe.

IVYBRIDGE.--A full share of destruction of every kind was experienced
at Ivybridge during the storm. Trees fell in all directions, a large
one breaking in the roof of the newly constructed Navvy Mission
Room. The Navvy Missioner, Mr. MacLean, was in the room at the time,
and had a very narrow escape. Over a dozen trees fell between the
station and the village, most of them being uprooted. For some time
provisions in the town showed serious signs of running short, but
by a laudable system of mutual accommodation between the residents
and tradespeople any actual privation was averted. Several of the
passengers by the 6·50 P.M. snowed-up train from Plymouth on Monday
night, and the down night train due at Plymouth about 8 P.M. on Monday
night, also blocked at Ivybridge Station, were located in the village,
but some of the passengers, as late as Thursday evening, were still in
search of lodgings. The railway guards and drivers were also in dire
straits, and Mr. Bohn (the proprietor of the London Hotel), promptly
and generously came to the rescue with free dinners to the railway
servants. Many hundreds of people visited the scene of the principal
block at Langham Bridge, where the unfortunate train from Plymouth on
Monday night became embedded in a deep snow-drift.

KINGSBRIDGE.--This neighbourhood underwent some wretched experiences,
not only during the blizzard of Monday and Tuesday, but for fully a
fortnight subsequent to the storm. The roads leading to surrounding
towns were in a terrible condition through the fall of snow that
appears to have exceeded here the fall in any other part of Devon, and
the losses of farm-stock were very great. The first episode occurred
at seven o'clock on Monday evening, when the mail-cart for Totnes was
snowed up after having proceeded a mile out of Kingsbridge, and the
driver was compelled to return with his pair of horses, leaving the
van in the road. The mail-bags were brought back to the town on the
following morning. In another case, Mr. Waymouth, of Woolston, four
miles from Kingsbridge, started from the latter place in his carriage
for home on the same evening, but was stopped by a fallen tree, and
he and his coachman were compelled to take shelter at Coombe Royal,
and to remain there until the following Thursday. There were the usual
instances of damage to house property, and there was also tremendous
destruction to trees, and to the shrubberies of the various residences
in the vicinity of the town. All communication was cut off from outside
by the destruction of telegraph wires and posts. The telegraph wires
have been described as presenting a very singular appearance, the
coating of hardened snow in many instances extending to a thickness
as great as six inches in diameter. No communication with any other
town was received or sent for four whole days, and the post-office was
closed for three days, as no mails could be received or despatched.
Several commercial travellers who got into the town on Monday were
compelled to remain till Friday, when they escaped from confinement by
going to Plymouth by steamer. The hardships endured in neighbouring
villages for a week were severe, some of the villagers having been
without coals, and, the bakers having run out of flour, bread in
sufficient quantities could not be obtained. There was considerable
injury to some of the crops, and almost every farmer lost sheep in the
snow. Mr. Hooppell, of Bigbury, lost between three and four hundred,
the greater number of which were probably blown into the sea. Mr. J.
Langworthy, of East Allington, lost about seventy sheep and lambs,
computed to be worth £300. Mr. S. Square, of Thurlestone, also lost
over 100 valuable sheep and lambs. One gentleman had the task imposed
upon him of endeavouring to keep alive forty young lambs which had lost
their mothers.

Great havoc was wrought in the grounds of Coombe Royal, the American
garden being laid almost bare. In the vicarage grounds many of the
trees and shrubs were blown down. Improvised sledges were used during
the second week by residents as well as the local carriers, these
being, indeed, the only vehicles that could be used with any safety.

[Illustration: ST. CLEER ROAD, LISKEARD.]

LAUNCESTON.--Considerable inconvenience was experienced in Launceston
throughout the week of storm, but scarcely anything more serious. From
Tuesday to Thursday there was a complete cessation of intercourse
with other parts of the country, no mails being despatched, or papers
or news of any kind being received, and no telegraphic service was
available throughout the week. Some damage was inflicted by the wind
to both glass and trees, and the roofs of houses were more or less
damaged, but altogether Launceston was much more fortunate than the
majority of west-country towns.

[Illustration: COLDSTILE LANE, LISKEARD.]

LISKEARD.--The greatest discomforts experienced at Liskeard were those
brought about by the impassable condition of the roads, and by the
blocking of the leat on Bulland Down, which supplies the town with
water. The reservoirs on St. Cleer Downs were nearly empty on Wednesday
morning, when Mr. Sampson, the inspector of the water, visited it, and
found that an immense snow-drift was blocking it on the north side of
the down. For nearly twelve hours a gang of men dug at the drift, and
succeeded in freeing the leat and saving the town from a water famine.
The leat was on a very exposed part of the down, and the height of the
snow-drifts in the locality may be judged from the view we give of one
of these. The illustration is from a photograph kindly supplied by Mr.
A. W. Venning, solicitor, of Liskeard. A horse and cart had been dug
out from this drift just before the photograph was taken. The town was
completely isolated for several days, and the distress among the poorer
inhabitants was very great. Everything possible was done to mitigate
the temporary distress, relief committees being formed under the active
superintendence of the Mayor of Liskeard--Mr. T. Lang. On Friday, after
Thursday's snowfall, the rural postmen could not go their rounds, the
height of snow in the roads being so great. Our view of Coldstile Lane,
near Liskeard (also from a photograph contributed by Mr. Venning),
which was impassable for days, reveals in a forcible manner the state
of this part of Cornwall. Here, as elsewhere, hundreds of sheep were
buried in the snow.

LYME REGIS.--One of the heaviest snowstorms that ever visited the
south of Dorset was experienced at Lyme Regis on Tuesday, March 10th.
The town lies six miles from the nearest railway station, and the
only communication is by two well-appointed three-horse 'busses. On
Tuesday the 'bus, with an extra horse, left the town at nine in the
morning, carrying the mails. The conveyance, with great difficulty,
reached the high hill known as Hunter's Lodge, where, notwithstanding
all efforts, it was found impossible to proceed further. The one lady
passenger walked to the hotel at Hunter's Lodge, while the driver, Mr.
Blake, rode back to Lyme Regis and obtained assistance. By the time
the luggage and mails had been transferred to a light waggonette the
'bus, except for the roof, was invisible, and the roof was only kept
clear by the strong wind blowing at the time. Later on the same night,
the driver of the mail cart from Illminster to Lyme started to do the
journey on horseback, driving being out of the question. On about the
same spot as the 'bus had been buried, the driver lost his horse, and
accomplished the rest of the journey on foot, arriving at Lyme at one
o'clock on Wednesday morning. Both horse and 'bus were eventually
recovered, and the mail carts resumed running on March 17th.

MEVAGISSEY.--The gale of Monday and Tuesday raged with great fury at
Mevagissey, blowing from E.S.E., accompanied by blinding snow. On
Tuesday morning the parapet of the new breakwater on the southern side
of the harbour was found to have been washed off for a distance of two
hundred feet, and the sea was rushing through the gap. By the end of
the week the breakwater was in three parts, and it was feared that the
whole structure would have to be taken down. The damage was estimated
at over £10,000. The fishermen suffered greatly through the loss of
herring and pilchard nets, which were shot at anchor in the bay, and
swept away by the gale.

MODBURY.--The blizzard was very destructive in the Modbury district,
and the town was completely isolated from the Monday to the Saturday.
On Monday evening several farmers who had attended the market and left
for their homes, were driven back, and had to remain in Modbury several
days. The loss of sheep in the neighbourhood was unusually large, it
being estimated that within the postal district of Modbury nearly one
thousand sheep were lost, besides several head of cattle. Some of the
snow-drifts were immense, and one labourer had his house completely
covered. A boy, who had been sent on Monday to deliver bread at some
neighbouring villages, was discovered in the evening sitting in the
trap almost insensible from cold, while the trap was nearly buried in
the snow. The horse was released, and the boy taken to the nearest
house, where he soon recovered.

NEWQUAY.--At Newquay there was a great fall of snow, and many sheep
were buried. Mr. T. Cardell lost over 100, and other farmers as many as
forty each. A man named Ambrose Matthews, a hawker of wild flowers, was
found dead under three feet of snow in a field near Tower Lane, where
he was probably trying to crawl into a shed for shelter. He was last
seen selling flowers in the town at half-past eight on Monday night.

NEWTON ABBOTT.--The greater part of the railway traffic at Newton
Abbott was suspended. The last up-train that arrived on Monday was the
4·30 P.M. express from Plymouth; and the Monday evening's mails from
Paddington, and Tuesday morning's Bristol and Newton Abbott travelling
post-office, which arrived several hours late, were unable to proceed
further than this town, and about one hundred passengers were compelled
to remain in Newton. There was, in the streets, an average depth of
three feet of snow, whilst in some places the drifts were from ten to
twelve feet in height. Considerable damage was done to the trees and
shrubs in the park, and in the private gardens.

PADSTOW.--This was another town that suffered very severely. Great
quantities of unexpected snow fell, and the gale was terrific on Monday
night and all day on Tuesday. People who were out of town on the Monday
night had great difficulty in returning to their homes, and one woman,
named Rebecca Chapman, did not succeed, but was found buried in the
snow on the following Sunday. Miss Chapman, of about sixty-two years
of age, who resided at Crugmere, about a mile-and-a-half from Padstow,
had been in the latter town on Monday, and left for home at about seven
o'clock in the evening. At a place named Trethillick she lost her
way, and calling at one of the houses in the village was put upon the
right road. She was never again seen alive. On perceiving on Tuesday
that the woman was not at home, the neighbours raised an alarm, and
search parties were instituted, but the body was not recovered until
the following week. From the position of the body when found, it would
seem that the unfortunate woman had mistaken the gate of the field in
which she was lying for that of her own home, and, entering the field,
had fallen exhausted. Her basket, containing the provisions she had
bought in the town, was found lying beside her. When the storm was at
its fiercest, on Monday evening, the dandy _Louisa_, of Exeter, in
entering Padstow harbour, ran into the schooner _Ballanheigh Castle_,
and damaged her galley and bulwarks. A praam, weighing nearly a ton,
which was lying keel upwards on the quay, was caught during one of the
squalls, and carried completely over the quay. On many farms large
numbers of sheep were buried, but in most cases these were rescued
alive.

PAIGNTON.--Great damage was done at Paignton on Monday night and
Tuesday. The roof of one wing of the house of Sir Thomas Seccombe,
K.C.S.I., on Coninence, was blown in, and crashed through the building,
but nobody was hurt. In the Totnes-road the roof of Miss Scale's house
was blown off, and several trees were blown down. The landing-stage
of the Promenade Pier was washed away, and the sea-wall front of
Redcliff Tower undermined. The Artillery Volunteer ammunition shed was
completely wrecked. A tall elm at Dr. Goodridge's residence fell over
and nearly crushed the roof. Steam launches were much injured, and
several fishermen lost their boats.

PENZANCE.--During Monday night's storm, at Penzance, there was such
a terrific sea running that the north dock gate was unhung, and
much damage was occasioned to the shipping in the port. Some of the
most beautiful trees in the vicinity were ruined. On the following
Tuesday the storm continued, and business almost entirely ceased,
no shops being opened for the day. There was a good deal of anxious
looking out for the return of travellers who had left the town before
the commencement of the storm on Monday, but by degrees they either
returned or their whereabouts was ascertained. At Wheal Vor, Breage,
however, a woman, sixty years of age, perished in the snow. Supplies of
food were almost daily fetched by boat from Penzance for little fishing
villages in the district, and a small coasting steamer was chartered to
take in a stock of provisions and land it on the sands at Porthcurno,
just within sight of Logan Rock.

PLYMPTON.--At Plympton, matters were very serious. Hundreds of trees
were destroyed, and large numbers of sheep died from exposure and
starvation.

[Illustration: CHURCH, AND CHAPLAIN'S HOUSE, PRINCETOWN, DARTMOOR.]

PRINCETOWN.--This moorland town passed through some trying experiences
during the storm week. The roofs of several cattle and sheep-sheds were
blown away, and every house in the neighbourhood suffered considerable
damage. A part of the church roof was unslated, and the church
itself, and the chaplain's house, were almost buried in the snow.
An illustration shows the condition of these two buildings, for the
photographic views of which, as well as for the picture of the convicts
cutting a road, we have to thank Mr. J. Richards, clerk of works at the
convict establishment, who took a great number of interesting views of
extraordinary scenes to be met with after the blizzard. At the Prison
Officers' School, some four or five of the moor children had to be
detained all night, fires being lighted and hot provisions provided.
The block on the Princetown railway line, where the evening train had
been snowed up on Monday evening, was a very serious one, and it took
a gang of fifty men and a snow-plough several days to work through
the accumulated mass. The inhabitants were without letter, paper, or
telegram from Monday morning until Saturday, when the postmaster, Mr.
W. Tooker, with the rural letter-carrier, and a prison officer, Mr.
Rodway, who accompanied the party as a volunteer, risked a walk to
Yelverton. There they found twenty-five bags of mails awaiting them.
They succeeded in walking back to Princetown, taking with them fourteen
bags of mails and a small quantity of newspapers, and were received
with much enthusiasm. No fear was felt that provisions would fail at
the prison, as there was a large stock on hand, but it was deemed
advisable to kill a number of sheep and pigs belonging to the farm.
The roads were cleared after immense labour, some of this work being
carried out by convicts from the prison.

[Illustration: CONVICTS CUTTING A ROAD AT PRINCETOWN, DARTMOOR.]

REDRUTH.--On the Monday and Tuesday at Redruth there was such a storm
as had not been known for thirty-five years in West Cornwall. It
snowed almost incessantly for twenty-four hours, and left drifts, in
some parts, from ten to twelve feet deep. The trains could not get
into Redruth either from east or west for two days, and even Camborne
could not be reached. Trees in various parts were much injured. There
was little business done, and the quantity of provisions brought into
the town being so small, the prices were of the most extravagant
description. Milk could hardly be obtained, and what butter was in the
market was sold at the price of 2s. per lb., a heavy price for Redruth.
There was a scarcity of coals in the neighbourhood, and the stock
(of coals) at the brewery was exhausted before the end of the week.
Most of the roads in the district were impassable, and it was found
impossible as late as Friday to dig out the vehicles that Monday's
storm embedded in the Redruth highway. Mining operations were greatly
impeded, tunnels in the snow having in some instances to be cut to
enable the miners to get to their work. There were many rumours of
persons missing since the memorable Monday, and fears for their safety
were entertained which in one unhappy case proved to be only too well
grounded. A boy named Wallace left his work at the Wheal Basset mine
on the afternoon of the storm to walk to his home. He did not reach it
at the usual time, nor at all on that day, and great anxiety resulted,
search parties scouring the country in all directions. At length, ten
days afterwards, his body was found in a snow-drift between thirty
and forty yards from his home. Another lad had a very narrow escape.
He was missed for some hours, and was found almost unconscious in an
outhouse, where he had taken refuge under some straw. Not the least
serious inconvenience attending this week of disaster at Redruth was
the unavoidable postponement of a number of funerals, to make way to
the parish church and cemetery being found impracticable.

ST. COLUMB.--The advent of the blizzard at St. Columb was sudden and
unexpected, and the force of the wind drifted most of the snow into
the roads and hedges in such a way as to completely stop all vehicular
traffic. In some spots the drifts were fifteen feet high. No letters
or papers arrived in the town from Monday until Wednesday evening,
and among other inconveniences was the unavoidable postponement of a
wedding which was to have taken place. As this event was not fixed for
any earlier date than the last day of the week, and could not take
place then, some idea of the condition of the country may be formed.
The farmers were apparently taken by surprise, as most of their sheep
were out, and hundreds were buried beneath the snow. Many lambs and
sheep were found at a depth of seven or eight feet, and instances
occurred of lambs, who had been born under circumstances such as these,
being found alive and healthy. Buried houses were by no means an
uncommon occurrence. At Winnard's Perch, about two miles from Redruth,
a woman was snowed in from Monday until Wednesday at noon, when she was
dug out. Great damage was also done to trees, and for a time business
was suspended.

ST. IVES.--A tempestuous sea was the chief cause of suffering at St.
Ives. The blizzard blew mainly from the E.N.E., and caused sad havoc
along the coast on Monday night and Tuesday. Ships in positions of
peril were occasionally observed, and the lifeboat crew, with rocket
apparatus, held themselves in readiness, and in some cases, endeavoured
to get near the endangered vessels, but the tracks to the shore were
impassable. The window of a cottage on the Warren, overlooking the sea,
was blown in, and the sea rushed in and partly filled one of the rooms.
Slates and chimneypots were blown about to the imminent danger of the
inhabitants. A man named Metters left St. Ives for St. Just, with a
donkey cart, on Monday, to sell herrings, and after nearly a week's
absence his friends gave him up for lost, but he returned to his home
on the following Monday, having been snowed up at St. Just for the
entire week.

SENNEN.--The Land's End district was altogether cut off from other
parts of the country from Monday to Friday, and even after that time
communication was only effected with great difficulty. The snow-drifts
were immense, and many sheep and lambs were buried. Supplies having
begun to fail by the end of the week, a shopkeeper inaugurated a novel
expedition which, grotesque as it was in its make-up and appearance,
succeeded in the object the organizer had in view. He obtained a
number of donkeys, and having placed baskets upon their backs, formed
them into procession, he leading the way with a shovel, with which
he cleared a path to St. Just. There provisions were obtained, and
the adventurous tradesman, followed by his donkeys,--now laden with
well-filled baskets,--returned triumphant to St. Sennen. Two cottages
near the Land's End were buried in the snow, and the cottagers had
to be dug out. The Rev. J. Isabell, of St. Sennen, by way of getting
the roads clear, set an admirable example. He headed a party of some
seventy men, all being armed with shovels, and effected good work in
making the parish roads fit for traffic.

TAUNTON.--The train due at Taunton at seven minutes past nine and the
"Flying Dutchman" reached Taunton at about the same time on Monday
night, and were unable to proceed further. Among the passengers was the
Duke of Edinburgh, on his way to Devonport, who was detained for some
few days, after which he was enabled to reach Exeter, and from thence
to proceed without further mishap to his destination.

TAVISTOCK.--Some account of the devastation caused in this district
by the storm has already been given. The destruction to timber was
especially heavy, but perhaps the most serious feature of all is the
loss of sheep and cattle. Mr. H. Dingle, of Taviton, had over two
hundred sheep embedded in the snow, and a number of these were taken
out dead. Mr. Perkins, of King-street, Tavistock, and Mr. Walkem, of
Hartshole, also suffered heavily in this respect. On the estate of the
Rev. J. Hall-Parby there was also a great loss of sheep. Out of sixteen
sheep buried in a drift, nine, belonging to Mr. Warne, were dug out
dead, while in the neighbouring parish of Walkhampton the loss was
still greater. Mr. Giles, of this parish, dug out 40 dead sheep. Mr. J.
Squire, of the Bedford Hotel, had a flock of sheep and lambs buried in
the snow, on his moorland farm on Whitchurch Down, but he succeeded in
rescuing most of them.

TEIGNMOUTH.--The destruction wrought on the sea-front of this
well-known watering-place and sea-port, which has been briefly alluded
to in earlier pages, appears to have had the effect of waking up the
residents to a sense of the innumerable natural beauties that belong
to their town, and the advisability of preserving, and, if possible,
improving them. Not many months before the blizzard of 1891, a gale
from the south-east was near demolishing that portion of the bank above
the beach, that has since fallen before the action of the waves, and
from time to time the dangerous position of the houses abutting upon
it, and standing within a stone's-throw of the sea, has been pointed
out by a large number of the residents themselves. Nature has now taken
the matter in hand, and the probabilities are that a sea-wall will be
built that will extend from the "Point," or lighthouse, to the Hole
Head tunnel, a distance of over a mile and a half, and thus the finest
sea promenade in the country will be secured.

TORQUAY.--The snowstorm was more severe at Torquay than at any of the
surrounding districts, the fall having been heavier than at either
Teignmouth or Dawlish. Few mishaps occurred, however, and there was not
any really serious damage. Railway communication with Exeter, London,
and the north, was never interrupted. Some injuries to trees occurred,
and a few telegraph posts were blown down, but, on the whole, Torquay
sustained its reputation as a desirable winter abode.

TOTNES.--Some novel incidents occurred at Totnes during the week of
the storm. The town was for days completely isolated, the only journey
possible in search of news appearing to have been a perilous one, on
foot, to Brent, where ignorance of the doings of the outside world
was as great, if not greater, than at Totnes itself. A number of
travellers, among them Mr. H. S. Jenkins, of the _Western Morning News_
(who had gone to the town on duty on the Monday night), were detained
until the end of the week, and all the inconveniences resulting from an
enforced imprisonment of such an unusual description were experienced.
The first indication of an actual block on the railway was at about
nine o'clock on Monday night, when the down-train, due at Plymouth at
ten o'clock, arrived at Totnes station, and was not allowed to proceed,
as no communication could be exchanged with stations further down
the line. After hours of waiting, some of the passengers sheltering
themselves in the carriages and others in the waiting-room (where
they were made as comfortable as circumstances would allow, Miss
Inskip keeping the refreshment-room open until four o'clock on Tuesday
morning), all were compelled to take up their quarters in the town
for what was to them, at that time, a very indefinite period. There
were, in the neighbourhood of Totnes, great losses among the farming
community, hundreds of sheep being buried in the snow. One farmer, of
Ashprington, dug out a flock of fifty, of which fifteen were dead.
Orchards were completely wrecked, and many fine forest trees were
destroyed. In the town the damage done to property was not very great,
but the glass roofs of several conservatories were broken in by the
weight of snow. The snow in the streets was three feet deep, and in the
adjacent country roads a depth of from six to eight feet was recorded.

TRURO.--At the cathedral city of Cornwall trade was at a complete
standstill for days, owing to the heavy fall of snow. Snow lay three
feet deep in all the roads outside the town, and, going farther into
the country, the drifts were from ten to twelve feet deep. Great damage
was done to property, and some accidents, none of them, however, having
a fatal termination, occurred. To make matters worse for those having
business matters to look after, the train service was altogether
disorganised. The "Dutchman" arrived on Monday night forty minutes
late, and then had to wait the arrival of the train from Falmouth.
This, due at Truro at 7·25, did not arrive until ten minutes to nine.
Its course was blocked by fallen telegraph poles and wires, which
had to be cut away before the train could proceed, the most serious
obstacle being between Penryn and Perranwell. The "Dutchman" had to
pass by Grampound Road at full speed, or it would probably have been
in danger of being embedded in the snow. It was only when the end
of this memorable week had been reached that telegraphic and other
communication with neighbouring towns was restored, and that the city
once more returned to its usual condition of comfort and tranquillity.



CHAPTER VI.

IN PARK AND FOREST.


There is no stronger testimony to the overwhelmingly destructive
character of the blizzard of March, 1891, than that afforded by
the spectacle of thousands of forest trees, that had, in numerous
instances, withstood the storms of centuries, lying, some with their
roots above ground, others snapped short off or twisted asunder, but
all mercilessly and hopelessly wrecked. Many of these fallen monarchs
had experienced heavier gales undoubtedly, but they had not been so
rapidly laden with the heavy burden of clinging snow that caused them
to sway and stagger, and rendered them helpless victims to the fury
of the blast. The effects of this blizzard-like nature of the storm
are apparent in the peculiar form the havoc in the parks and forests
has assumed--some trees appearing as if the tops had been wrenched
off, and in other instances a trunk being left standing--a mere bare
pole--denuded of all its branches. Many trees that were old and feeble
weathered the storm best, the apparent cause being that their stronger
brethren sheltered them from the fatal garment of snow as much as from
the gale, and that when the protector at last fell the fury of the
blast was spent.

The manner in which the snow clung to, rather than fell upon, all
objects that it encountered, is strikingly shown in the accompanying
illustration of Membland after the storm. The illustration is from a
photograph of a water-colour drawing. The photograph, and the following
narrative, have been courteously supplied to us by one who was a deeply
interested spectator of the scene:--

"At Membland, Lord Revelstoke's place ten miles from Plymouth at the
mouth of the Yealm, the devastation and havoc caused by the storm of
the 9th of March are indescribable.

"The appearance of the house on the Wednesday following, the 11th, will
not easily be forgotten by its inmates. That Wednesday was a glorious
day of sunshine. The house was entirely, to all appearance, snowed up
to the top storey; the wind in its fierceness having flung the snow
against the house, where it froze on the windows, giving a weird look;
a pane of glass here and there coming out in relief, and prismatic
colours darting across, in and out of the snow where the sun shone in
full power.

"Where the ivy covers the north side, the effect was very beautiful:
each leaf covered as it were with a bell of crystal, and festoons of
crystal hanging down in every direction. Outside the front door the
snow was fourteen feet deep. From eight to ten on that memorable Monday
evening when the storm was at its height, the gardener, Mr. Baker,
stood out and saw the trees right and left, here rooted up, there
felled down with the rapidity and report of a volley of musketry. Over
a thousand trees are down, among them the finest trees surrounding the
house, and which can ill be spared, such as the Insignis, the Ilex, &c.
Every orchard is laid low.

[Illustration: MEMBLAND, RESIDENCE OF LORD REVELSTOKE, AFTER THE
STORM.]

"The two plantations near the house present the appearance of hundreds
of trees felled down for the advance of an invading and cruel enemy. On
the carriage-drive you come across a huge tree torn up by the roots,
leaving the whole road cracked as from an earthquake! By the side of
this devastation, at every turn, you see the most curious sight of
all,--a tree frail from age or extreme youth left untouched! The drift
at the lodge was from fifteen to twenty feet deep. The lodge-keeper
took one hour and three-quarters getting from the lodge to the house,
on Tuesday, the 10th; a distance under three-quarters of a mile. Mr.
Methyrell, a tenant of Lord Revelstoke's, residing one mile from
Membland, lost fifty of his sheep. Lord Revelstoke was fortunate in
not losing more than seventeen sheep and one black lamb. The village
of Noss Mayo, situated in the estuary of the Yealm, in the parish of
Revelstoke, has sadly lost in beauty and picturesqueness from the
destruction of trees, these falling headlong in some instances on the
boats of the inhabitants, and causing distress and ruin.

"Lord Revelstoke was in London--Lady Revelstoke was alone in the house
with her niece, Miss Bulteel: the experience of being cut off from
all communication with the neighbouring villages, the impossibility
of procuring the services of Dr. Adkins were it a matter of life or
death, the cessation of all postal or telegraphic communications, being
told the last portion of flour was exhausted--this lasting from Monday
until Saturday--all the different incidents arising from this "_Great
Unforeseen_" are recollections which will never be effaced from the
memories of the inhabitants of the parish of Revelstoke. The postman
from Plymouth to Yealmpton and Newton Ferrers, including the parish of
Revelstoke, deserves praise. His return was looked for anxiously by the
inhabitants of Noss Mayo and Newton, morning after morning. He got to
Yealmpton, and sallied forth like the dove after the flood to try and
find his way to Newton, but was forced to turn back. He succeeded on
the Saturday, and was hailed with delight.

"At Flete, Mr. Mildmay's place, three-and-a-half miles from Ivybridge,
the damage is great, but the loss of trees not as irreparable as in
other places. The family were away. But the snug little corner between
Flete and Membland, at the mouth of the Erme, inhabited by Mr. Bulteel,
was a haven chosen by this merciless blast upon which to vent its worst
fury. The peaceful valley strewn with trees, and the beautiful laurels
shattered.

"A little incident is worth recording to illustrate the friendliness
and kind-heartedness of the neighbours. The town of Modbury is six
miles from Pamflete. Mr. Bulteel has for years dealt with Mr. Coyte,
the butcher. On Thursday, the 12th, Mr. Coyte feared Mr. Bulteel might
run short of butcher's-meat; he accordingly started three men at 8 A.M.
from Modbury, one man carrying a basket of meat, and the other two with
shovels, for places found too impassable to ensure a footway.

"These men reached Pamflete (Mr. Bulteel's) at 6 P.M., after a struggle
of ten hours to get there. It is needless to say they were welcomed
by Mr. Bulteel, who was thoroughly grateful to Mr. Coyte for his kind
thought."

Another account says:--"At Mount Edgcumbe Park, the principal seat
of the Rt. Hon. Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, the wreck to the timber is
enormous. So large are the gaps made in the groups and avenues of
trees, that the unaccustomed open spaces are distinctly visible from
Plymouth Hoe, and from even greater distances. Altogether, the Earl
estimates his loss at two thousand trees (at Mount Edgcumbe alone), and
calculates that it will take two years to sufficiently clear his park
of fallen timber to enable him to again throw it open to visitors."

The reproduction of a photograph by Mr. Heath, of George-street,
Plymouth, shows the entrance to Mount Edgcumbe Park. Here there are
down three fine elms, each four hundred years old. One fell right
across the path, the other two fell towards the lodge, which they only
escaped by a few inches, the branches even sweeping off some of the
slates from the roof of the building. Had the trees fallen but a little
more to the north, the lodge must have been crushed like cardboard. All
the way up the avenue leading to the house the trees are lying in every
direction. In the private garden behind the house (the favourite resort
of the Earl and his family), the beautiful cedars, known only to those
who have had the privilege of visiting this retired spot, are all down
or shivered where they stand. Particularly and painfully noticeable are
a fine old lime, a chestnut tree, and a beautiful Turkey oak, not only
rooted up but split to pieces. These the Earl describes as having been
his favourite trees.

[Illustration: THE ENTRANCE, MT. EDGCUMBE PARK.]

"On the hill overlooking the ruins of the old castle, all but one of
the umbrella pines, so well known to all visitors to the park, are
rooted up, and scattered. In the laurel walk, dozens of fine trees
are down, quite obstructing the pathway, but the saddest scene of all
in this portion of the park is the fall of a fine silver beech, which
stood just at the end of the walk. Strange to say, this tree has fallen
in the opposite direction to every tree in the park, as if its sole
purpose had been to crush a beautiful camellia tree that stood exactly
opposite, and that has yearly yielded a thousand blooms. Close by is
still standing a fir, the tallest tree in all the park, looking as
though, through all the stormy night and day, it had reared its proud
head in defiance of the tempest.

"The greatest havoc of all is in that part of the park known as
Beechwood, situated on a slope facing almost due east. This slope was
exposed to the full fury of the gale, and quite four hundred trees were
blown down. Our illustration, from a photo by Mr. Heath, pourtrays some
of this fallen grandeur. A gardener, who lives in Beechwood Cottage,
far more familiarly known as Lady Emma's Cottage, relates, that on
Monday night, when the storm was at its height, which was between
half-past seven and eight o'clock, he with his wife and young family
were in the house in an awful state of suspense and apprehension.
Momentarily they were dreading that a fallen tree would crush in their
cottage, and yet they dared not venture out among the crashing timber,
nor face the blast that would in all probability have blown them over
the cliff into the sea. Their terror can be well understood when it is
stated that from time to time the branches of falling trees actually
brushed the walls of the cottage. As if by a merciful dispensation
of Providence, a huge beech, standing almost due east to the house,
remained standing, while other trees, less exposed, were blown down.
If the beech had fallen, the fate of the cottage with its inmates must
have been quickly determined.

[Illustration: BEECHWOOD, MT. EDGCUMBE PARK.]

"In the English and Italian gardens more disastrous wreckage meets the
view. On the lawn, in the English garden, a splendid cork tree, and
also a famous holly, were uprooted. The orangery in the Italian garden
narrowly escaped damage by a falling elm."

Many of the large trees, lying prostrate, and others completely
wrecked, are depicted in the accompanying view, also from a photo by
Mr. Heath.

Seriously as the noble owner of Mount Edgcumbe suffered at his
principal seat, that was not, however, the extent of the calamity. The
condition of the woods was described by one who visited the locality
after the storm in the following terms:--

"At Cotehele, the devastation in the woods is beyond all description.
Few, indeed, except the very oldest persons, have ever been able to see
Cotehele House from the town of Calstock. This historic mansion is now,
however, in full view, and the monarchs of the wood have fallen low
to the extent of thousands. It is only as one goes through the woods
that the vastness of the destruction can be comprehended. In the glade
that fronts the house towards the Tamar, below the ornamental pond, the
crash and fall has been so great as to make a tangled mass of roots,
branches, and limbs. Most of the trees that are down are elms, though
beeches, ashes, and sycamores have also given way to the gale. Oaks
have held on at the roots, but the limbs have suffered, and firs have
gone by the board. Most of this species of tree have broken short off,
rather than have been uprooted. The beautiful walk from Cotehele Quay
to the house is a wreck that fifty years will not set in the same form
as it existed before the 9th of March. Trees three feet through have
been blown out of the ground as though they had been saplings, and in
some cases the weight of the earth and stones around the roots must
have been several tons." Not less than two thousand trees were blown
down in Cotehele Woods, representing over 100,000 feet of timber. One
tree alone contained over two hundred cubic feet.

[Illustration: FALLEN MONARCHS, MT. EDGCUMBE PARK.]

Mr. W. Coulter, the highly respected house-steward of the Earl of Mount
Edgcumbe, at Cotehele, and who resides in Cotehele House, has favoured
us with the following graphic account of what took place during the
early part of this eventful week:--

"The wind, having blown a gale the whole day, continued to increase
in violence as evening approached, and from 7 till 9 o'clock P.M.,
accomplished, if not all, the greater part of the devastation to house
and woods. The noise of the storm resembled the frantic yells and
fiendish laughter of millions of liberated maniacs, broken, at frequent
intervals, by what sounded like deafening and rapid volleys of heavy
artillery, and, as these died away, louder and louder again rose the
appalling screams of the storm, with slight intervals of lull and
perfect calm, only to return with tenfold violence, which made the
whole house tremble and vibrate. At 7 P.M. two heavy skylights were
blown from their position on the roof of the kitchen, and from the
chimney of the same building a huge metal plate was hurled into the
court below, carrying the masonry through the roof and into the room
underneath.

"Several of the windows facing the east were swept in as easily as a
spider's web; lead and glass, scattered all over the room, leaving only
the shattered frames, through which rushed the resistless wind and
blinding snow. One window, being almost new, the hinges and fastenings
were snapped asunder like joints of thread, the snow lying in heavy
wreaths over beds, furniture, and floor. Most of the windows on the
weather-side were more or less broken evidently, in the first instance,
by the scattered branches of fallen trees just in front of the house.
Through the joints of doors and windows the cracks and crevices, before
unknown to the eye, the drifting snow penetrated and piled up in
ridges, so that rooms and passages had to be cleared like the pavement
in the streets.

"It is absolutely impossible to picture the scene of desolation
revealed at daybreak on the morning of the 10th all round the house.
The ground was strewn and literally covered with fallen slates and
branches of trees. The appearance of the courtyard, or quadrangle,
presented that of a grave-yard, the slates in all shapes, sizes, and
forms, standing on end, like grave-stones projecting above the snow.

"Notwithstanding the great number of huge trees levelled all round
the house, neither the inmates of Cotehele, nor a single individual
outside, once heard the crash of falling timber above the fierce
howling of the blast.

"We inside the house, at much risk, and after much labour, managed
to find and secure the displaced skylights, and from that time, 7
P.M. till 4 A.M., we were hard at work clearing rooms of the snow
and barricading broken windows with whatever material came first to
hand, such as packing-cases, door-mats, old books and cardboard,
battened firmly into the granite mullions. Many times during the fierce
cannonade we feared the whole building would collapse, but beyond
shattered windows and roof, the granite walls remain intact, and during
the storm fires had to be extinguished, smoke and flames being driven
into the room and the occupants driven out.

"A somewhat remarkable incident in reference to this may here be
recorded. Perched on the extreme point of an abrupt and precipitous
rock, overhanging the river Tamar, stands the venerable old fane,
better known as Sir Richard Edgcumbe's Chapel. Right and left of the
building, nearly the whole of the timber was levelled, but the Chapel
itself and a small clump of sturdy oaks surrounding the spot are, with
the building, left intact, save one small insignificant tree whose
roots and fangs were clinging to an almost barren piece of rock.

[Illustration: A FALLEN MONARCH, COTEHELE, CALSTOCK.]

"On an examination of the Cotehele Woods, the scene presented gives one
the idea of an earthquake rather than that of a storm. The majority of
the hundreds of trees vary from two to three hundred years and even
older, torn up by the roots, and tearing up like so much turf yards
of macadamized road and huge blocks of strong stone walls, leaving
their ponderous roots standing erect, to which may be seen clinging
several tons of huge rock firmly clasped by root and soil, and in
many instances, these giants of the forest are found lying athwart
each other, shewing the storm to have practised all the antics of
a whirlwind." A huge fallen tree, lying prone across a pathway in
the woods, may be seen in the above illustration, which is from a
photograph taken by Mr. Rowe, public librarian, Devonport.

A description of another scene of melancholy devastation, written in
April, some weeks after the storm, said:--

"At Maristowe, the seat of the Right Hon. Sir Massey Lopes, Bart.,
the storm did irreparable damage on Monday. The grounds presented on
Tuesday a scene of terrible desolation, and even now it can be seen
that the beauties of Maristowe are all destroyed. Mr. Merson, steward
to Sir Massey, states that fifty thousand trees are down, and that
the respected owner is much affected by his loss. Nearly all the lime
trees in the avenue leading from the croquet and tennis lawns to the
garden, and which formed the chief attraction to visitors, are lying in
hopeless confusion, and the avenue, considered the most beautiful walk
in all Devonshire, is now utterly impassable and destroyed for ever. In
the main coach road, from the gamekeeper's lodge to the mansion, fifty
beautiful beeches have fallen.

"The greatest portion of the damage within the park itself, occurred in
the immediate vicinity of Mr. Merson's house, the occupants of which
expected every moment that it would be crushed by falling trees.

"A strange incident occurred in connection with the sycamore trees. It
appears that on the Saturday previous to the storm Sir Massey decided
that two old and decayed trees of this kind, which were somewhat in the
way of contemplated improvements to the steward's residence, should
be cut down, and gave Mr. Merson instructions accordingly. The gale
came on, and hundreds of stately trees, one a monarch elm of unusual
size, and another a stately macrocarphus fir, sixty feet high, and
of exceptional beauty, succumbed within a short distance of the spot
where the two old and despised sycamores still reared their heads. The
storm could not destroy them, but they have since been sawn down. Near
this same spot some very choice laurels and rhododendrons were torn
up by the roots and hurled fifty yards away, being discovered days
afterwards buried under from twelve to twenty feet of snow. In the
fir wood, facing the mansion, on the opposite side of the Tavy, quite
half the trees are blown down, while the plantation close to the main
entrance on Roborough Down is almost entirely destroyed. The plantation
adjoins the residence of Dr. Clay, of Plymouth, and contained about
three thousand very fine firs and pines of which only about one hundred
remain.

"Looking towards the woods opposite Maristowe House, the owner must
witness such a wreck as never was before seen since the house has stood
there. From the entrance of the road from Beer Ferris to Lopwell, trees
of every description lie twisted and thrown in every direction, and
the road itself must, for some time, be only available for traffic
with care. The great trees in falling have crashed through others, and
thousands of broken limbs are visible on every hand. On the other side
of the Tavy towards Denham Bridge, the damage is great, and in the
hollows, here and there, more than three weeks after the storm, were
considerable quantities of snow. At Denham Bridge several very fine
firs have gone, broken off short some five to eight feet above the
ground in most cases, and in the Tavy here and there are other trees.
On the road from Beer Alston to Tavistock one plantation of black firs,
consisting of several hundred trees, has lost to the extent of nine
trees out of every ten, and the cutoff ends of the trees jutting on
the highway present a remarkable appearance. A little further away, on
the road to Milton Abbot, another fir plantation has nearly every tree
down."

At Buckland Abbey, famous as the ancestral home of Sir Francis Drake,
the ruin is singularly disastrous. Messrs. Ward & Chowen, of Burnville,
Bridestowe, have kindly forwarded an interesting communication which
sets forth vividly some startling results of the blizzard. They write:--

"As agents to the Buckland Abbey property, our Mr. Chowen visited the
Abbey on the Saturday after the storm, that being the first day it was
possible to arrive at the nearest station, namely, Horrabridge, and
in getting to the Abbey he had to walk over fifteen feet of snow in
some parts, the average depth being about five feet. On reaching the
North Lodge, he was astounded at the devastation which met his view.
The whole of the Rookery between the North and South Lodges at the
back of the farm-house, commonly known as Place Barton, was literally
levelled--scarcely a tree remained standing, and the few that were
left were completely shattered, partly by the storm, and partly by the
falling of the other trees in their sudden descent.

"The fine old timber around the Abbey, which doubtless gave character
to the place in the renowned Sir Francis Drake's time, has been more or
less ruthlessly torn up by the roots by the effects of the disastrous
storm, and a noble avenue of beech to the north of the Abbey grounds
has suffered terribly, almost every alternate tree having succumbed. In
the Abbey grounds, an interesting sycamore, centuries old, on the stock
of which, at the point where the branches diverged, accommodation was
afforded by seats and a centre table for a quiet tea-party, shared the
fate of the others, and in its terrific descent crushed down another
fine ornamental specimen as if it were a sapling. Many of the fine old
cedars have been sadly mutilated, whilst some of the tulip trees have
been destroyed, but the Abbey buildings have, most fortunately, escaped
injury.

"Our Mr. Stevenson, at the North Lodge, has recounted a marvellous
incident which took place on the Monday evening of the storm. It
appears a neighbouring farmer and his wife paid a visit to their
friends at the Barton, and discovering that the storm was increasing
in violence, decided to leave early. In passing through the Rookery
towards the North Lodge, the way by the South Lodge being already
inaccessible, they had arrived just where the Rookery terminated at
this point, when down came the last tree over them without warning,
and, marvellous to relate, the horse, conveyance, and occupants were
imprisoned between the large branches diverging from the stock without
the slightest damage whatever being done. After great difficulty in
clearing the branches, the party were rescued, but could get no further
than the lodge, the horse having to be put up in the kitchen or living
room, whilst the owners were accommodated in the sitting room, where
they remained until the following Wednesday at midday. Immediately
after this occurrence, the whole Rookery was swept down, completely
covering the road which had been so recently passed over, and one of
the trees was blown on the back roof of the farm-house, crushing in one
of the bedrooms to within six inches of where a child was sleeping.

"In tracing the ravages of the storm it is most interesting to notice
the vagaries of the current, as it affected everything with which
it came in contact. In some cases the force would appear to descend
vertically in gusts, seizing the top or tops of trees lying together
and wrenching off the same as if turnip-tops, leaving the stock intact;
whilst other trees within a few feet escaped untouched. Undoubtedly the
force of the gale assumed a variety of forms. In some cases it could
be seen that the extreme violence of the wind reached a breadth of an
eighth of a mile, more or less, when in other places it was only a few
yards wide, clearing everything before it. In other parts it assumed a
circular or vortex form, and in its tortuous route decimated everything
in its way, tearing up huge trees, as if telegraph poles, and even
stripping off the thick bark of the Scotch fir, leaving it as clean as
a rinded pole.

"So far as we know the buildings have pretty well escaped, only partial
damage being done, and in some instances trees which might have smashed
down dwelling-houses have been spared, whilst those immediately around
the building have been stranded."

The Rev. Frederic T. W. Wintle, rector of Beerferris, who, in addition
to severe damage to his residence suffered considerably from loss of
trees, contributes the following information which was written on the
Wednesday after the blizzard:--

"The barometer on Monday morning at 9 A.M. had risen from 29·60 on
Sunday to 29·70. About 12 noon slight snow began and continued, but
did not lie much until towards evening; the gale freshened towards
sunset, and at 7·30 was furious. One of my chimney-stacks fell at that
time, wrecking the roof and three rooms, and it blew a hurricane for
some hours, with blinding drifts of fine snow. I dreaded daylight,
but was quite unprepared for the horrible desolation around me. I had
some fine fir trees, and others, almost everyone was blown down; and
oak trees either uprooted or boughs twisted and broken in a remarkable
way. I have nineteen good trees all down, and twenty apple trees in
an adjacent orchard. Indeed, my garden, of which I was justly proud,
is completely wrecked and ruined. The barometer had fallen to 29·20
yesterday (Tuesday) morning, and there was a high wind and fine snow
partly falling, partly drifting, till after dark. The average depth
is from five to seven inches, but deep drifts all about, five feet at
least. This morning (Wednesday) we have a cloudless sky, calm, and
barometer 29·60. Great destruction is everywhere. In one orchard
over 100 trees are down, in another cherry orchard they are described
as lying as if they were mown with a scythe. The roads are mostly
impassable with huge drifts, so that we can get no communication at
all. No post, no papers. The trains are all blocked beyond Tavistock,
and the telegraph won't work. No doubt the accounts of the storm will
reveal some curious details. Although the whole of my place suffered so
extensively, in a field just outside there are several fine oaks which
are untouched. I imagine the storm to have swept down from Dartmoor
pretty well north-easterly, over a high hill and down upon us, and
we must have been right in its vortex: the trees all show signs of
twisting, as if there had been a circular force. I am curious to see
how wide an area it grasped."

At Saltram House, a country seat of Lord Morley, four hundred trees
were blown down, and damage was done to the farm buildings. The
kitchen chimney at the mansion was also blown down, and crashed through
the roof into that apartment.

The very fine beech avenue, leading from the entrance lodge to the
mansion at Bickham, the residence of Reginald Gill, Esq., banker, of
Tavistock, is totally destroyed.

At Warleigh, the residence of Walter Radcliffe, Esq., two thousand
trees were blown down, and at Derriford, P. C. C. Radcliffe, Esq., lost
sixty.

In the plantations at St. German's, between two and three hundred trees
were uprooted or broken off. The park covers four hundred acres, and
much of the damage is in the home plantations.

On the Kitley estate, near Yealmpton, over 1,500 trees were blown down,
amongst them being some of the small leaf elm for which the property is
noted, while on the Blatchford estate four hundred trees fell.

At Woodtown, near Tavistock, the residence of W. F. Collier, Esq.,
hundreds of large trees were blown down, amongst them being several
exceptionally fine American conifers. At Foxhams, in the same district,
M. Collier, Esq., lost some magnificent Scotch and silver firs and
other trees, many of which had attained a great age. A large number
of conifers and rhododendrons, planted by Mr. Collier himself some
eighteen years ago, also perished.

Pentillie Castle suffered very severely; the house and the gardens
both escaped with but little damage, but trees of all sizes and ages
were blown down in all directions, from the majestic oaks of two
centuries' growth to the more recently planted Pinus and other rare and
ornamental trees and shrubs. So far all the strength of the woodman's
establishment has been directed to the clearing of the roads and walks,
which of itself is a herculean undertaking. The wreck may be cleared
away in time, but restoration to its former state is impossible.

At Efford Manor, Plymouth, the blizzard struck with great force the
edge of the lane on the eastern side of the house, and then recoiling,
and turning right and left, uprooted about twenty trees on the northern
side, and the same number on the southern side, leaving the house and
grounds untouched.

At Greenbank, Plymouth, several very fine trees were lost, and others
old and withered were left standing.

On Pitt Farm, near Ottery St. Mary, a magnificent Scotch fir, standing
alone, and measuring fifty-six feet to the lowest branch, was blown
down. This had for many years been a familiar landmark, and will be
greatly missed in the neighbourhood.

What transpired at the Elms, Stoke, the residence of Dr. Metham, our
illustration, next page, from a photograph by Mr. Rowe, Devonport,
plainly shows.

To enumerate here the instances of lamentable destruction to woods,
parks, and forests, all similar in character to the cases recorded
above, would be an impossible task. It will be long before the extent
of the damage is fully known, and where nearly every acre of ground on
which trees stood, more particularly in Devon and West Cornwall, has
been more or less rifled, anything like a comprehensive account is out
of the question. The same remark applies to the loss of fruit-trees. We
have hundreds of instances of farmers and fruit-growers who have to
lament the destruction, in some cases, of whole orchards; others, not
quite so unfortunate, having lost fruit-trees upon which for various
reasons they placed an especial value. The few facts given are but
typical of many scores of others, special reference to which the time
at our disposal does not permit.

[Illustration: THE ELMS, STOKE, DEVONPORT.]

Generally speaking, the nurserymen have not met with any very great
loss. Some glass has been broken, but in the winter season nearly all
the valuable stock, with the exception of choice trees and shrubs,
is protected. Among shrubs, many of the half-hardy specimens are
destroyed, their strength permitting them to stand an ordinary western
winter, but not one of the severity of that of the memorable blizzard
year of 1891.



CHAPTER VII.

AFTER THE STORM. THE WATER FAMINE IN PLYMOUTH.


As soon as the gale of Monday night and Tuesday had spent its force,
and it became possible for the work of clearing up to be proceeded
with, movements in this direction were rapidly organized in the Three
Towns, as well as in all other parts of the west where men were
obtainable, or traffic was at all possible. In Plymouth, Stonehouse
and Devonport, the earliest opportunities had been seized of clearing
the snow away from the door-ways; to free the pavements as a whole was
the next important step; and finally, in the temporarily fine weather
of Wednesday, the congealed masses in the roadways were attacked,
and that to such good purpose, that by the following Sunday, while
traces of the recent fall were frequent enough, in the majority of
the streets pedestrians could walk about with comfort, and vehicular
traffic was fully resumed. George Street, Plymouth, assumed before
long a very different appearance from that which it bore on Tuesday
morning, when Mr. Heath took the photograph from which our illustration
is reproduced, and the marvellous wintry mantles that enwrapped the
other portions of the town were removed with equal despatch. Hundreds
of men were employed shovelling the snow into carts, from which it
was subsequently tipped into the sea at Sutton Harbour and the Great
Western Docks.

[Illustration: CLOCK TOWER AND THEATRE ROYAL, PLYMOUTH.]

The railways by the end of the week had commenced to run with something
like regularity, although there were one or two temporary hitches at
first; and the postal telegraph services had already been partially
restored. To effect the latter object, large numbers of engineers had
been at work, and in the course of their labours, as may be supposed,
they met with a great deal of discomfort, and some very startling
adventures. Bricklayers, plumbers and plasterers plied a busy trade
for weeks after the storm, their services being required to some extent
in every house.

[Illustration: DEVONPORT PARK.]

At Stonehouse, the main streets were soon freed from snow, and the
usual busy throngs of people began once more to pass along this highway
between Plymouth and Devonport.

At Devonport, by Friday, in many parts of the town the snow had quite
disappeared, though in several of the streets heaps of slush remained,
and at the railway station business went on much as usual. In Devonport
Park great quantities of snow remained for a considerable time, though
the paths were cleared, and traffic for foot-passengers was made easy.
Mr. Rowe, of Devonport, has supplied a photograph of a very familiar
scene in the Park, which is here presented. The view of the Water
Steps, Milehouse Road, is also from a photograph by the same gentleman.

All over the storm-swept district, farmers were busy looking for cattle
and sheep, and some marvellous instances have been told of sheep being
recovered alive after being entombed for various lengthy periods, one
term of snow imprisonment lasting as long as sixteen days.

As early as the Tuesday morning following the storm of Monday night,
Mr. Bellamy, the Plymouth Borough Surveyor, notified to the inhabitants
of that town the imminent danger of a cessation of the water supply, in
consequence of the blocking by snow of the leat through which the water
is brought into the town. That these warnings were needed was evident
from the fact that since the Monday night the only water obtainable
had been from the Hartley reservoir, which, when full, contains only
two million gallons, or two days' supply. On Wednesday the whole of
the available staff of the Corporation, including the men whose usual
task is the repairing of the leat, were set to work, under the personal
supervision of Mr. Bellamy, to clear away the frozen snow which
completely filled the leat at the Head Weir, and prevented the passage
through it of any water from the river. The whole leat from the Head
Weir to Roborough was found to be one mass of frozen snow. On the same
day, the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr. J. T. Bond, accompanied by Mr. R. Monk
and Mr. G. R. Barrett, set out to walk up to Roborough, to ascertain
if possible how the work was progressing. The Mayor and his companions
arrived safely at Roborough, and were enabled to have communication
by telephone with the borough surveyor who was at the weir head. They
ascertained from him the condition of the leat, and received an urgent
appeal for at least two hundred more workmen to be sent up immediately.
The party then set out on their return journey, and again on foot.

[Illustration: WATER STEPS, MILEHOUSE ROAD, DEVONPORT.]

Arrived in Plymouth, a meeting of the Water Committee was hastily
convened, and it was ascertained that four Plymouth contractors would
be able to supply about one hundred men to proceed to Roborough.
This force was inadequate, and consequently the Mayor proceeded to
Devonport, and having stated the case to General Sir Richard Harrison,
K.C.B., commanding the district, at once received a promise of the
services of a military force of two hundred--one hundred of the Welsh
Regiment from the North Raglan Barracks, and another hundred of the
Royal Marines, the latter by permission of Colonel Colwell, second
colonel commandant.

On Wednesday the efforts of Mr. Bellamy, ably supplemented by those of
Mr. Duke and Mr. Shadwell, to make rapid progress with clearing the
leat near the well-known Rock Hotel at Head Weir, had been somewhat
retarded. Many of the labourers employed were ill-clad, and showed
signs of weakness, and when it was found that no sufficient provision
had been made to supply them with food, they threw down their shovels
and returned to Plymouth. Others, however, worked gallantly on through
the night. On Thursday morning, things looked more promising. At an
early hour the new contingent of workmen engaged on the previous day,
and the two detachments of the military--the men of the Welsh Regiment
under Lieutenants de la Chapelle and Ready, and the Marines commanded
by Captain Kelly and Lieutenants Mullins and Drake-Brockman--were on
the spot, and these, being divided into gangs, set vigorously to work
on the leat at various points. During the morning large commissariat
supplies were received from Plymouth, and the men, besides having a
plentiful supply of food, were served at intervals with hot coffee.

Some serious difficulties were encountered, and heavy labour on the
part of the civilian labourers and the soldiers was entailed. There
were nearly ten miles of leat to be cleared, and much of the snow was
frozen into hard solid masses, against which but slow headway could be
made. In some places the leat was completely buried under frozen snow
of great depth, and for hundreds of yards snow rose in drifts from
ten to twelve feet in height, burying the rails guarding the leat,
and rendering it difficult to trace its course accurately. The young
Welsh soldiers worked well, and the services of the Marines were found
invaluable.

By nightfall, when work ceased, it was found that the leat had been
cleared for a mile and a half from the Head Weir towards Yennadon.
On Yennadon Down Lieutenant de la Chapelle's men had cleared the way
nearly as far as Dousland, and near the Roborough Reservoir a clearance
of three miles had been made. At about six o'clock the troops and
civilian labourers, numbering about 450, returned to Yelverton Station,
and ultimately, after a vexatious, but, fortunately, not serious
mishap, reached Plymouth.

Fears were expressed during Thursday night that there would be another
snowstorm on Dartmoor, and this proved to be the case. A violent gale
raged on the moor, and three feet of snow fell, undoing much of what
the heavy toil of the previous day had accomplished. Much of the snow
that had been removed from the leat had drifted back, and part of the
work had to be done over again.

On Friday morning, a special train left Millbay with 200 general
labourers. There were also 100 Marines under Lieutenants Sousbie and
Garrett; 150 men of the Dorset Regiment, under Captain Lushington and
Lieutenants Mangles and Household; and 50 men of the Welsh Regiment,
under Lieutenant Woodville. The civilians were under the direction
of Mr. S. Roberts, and the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr. G. R. Barrett
(deputy-chairman of the Water Committee), Mr. W. H. Mayne, Mr. R. Monk,
and Mr. G. Bellamy, junior, accompanied the party. The train had a
rough time, on account of the heavy gale that was blowing, and just
before Bickleigh Station was reached it was brought to a standstill by
a snow-drift. About fifty of the labourers had to cut a way through the
snow, enabling the party, after nearly an hour's delay, to proceed on
their journey.

On arriving at Yelverton the weather was found to be so bad that, after
some consultation, it was considered advisable to send the military
back to Plymouth, and, after clearing the rails for the return of their
own train, they, with about fifty civilian labourers, started on the
return journey. Mr. Roberts, however, with his men proceeded along the
leat to a point near Clearbrook, but so fierce was the storm that work
could not be commenced, and an adjacent barn was used as a temporary
refuge. In less than two hours work was begun, and by four o'clock in
the afternoon a clear way of four feet in width was made from Yelverton
Bridge to Roborough Reservoir, a distance of six miles. A contingent
under the direction of Messrs. T. and W. Shaddock, and another directed
by Mr. Duke had been progressing most satisfactorily, and, when night
approached and success was within view, all the men expressed their
readiness to work all night if needful, so that the leat might be all
clear before the morning. This, however, was not necessary, and before
seven o'clock a clear passage for the water had been made along the
whole ten miles of leat. The water had still to be brought on, and a
hundred men volunteered to remain, under Mr. Bellamy, and work on until
a good stream was running. Their services were accepted, and the other
two hundred men, with the Mayor and Messrs. Roberts and Duke returned
to Plymouth by a special train at nine o'clock. The great piece of
work thus happily accomplished had been ably assisted by the Mayor
of Plymouth, Councillors G. R. Barrett, and R. A. Monk, and Messrs.
A. R. Debnam, S. Roberts, Duke and Shaddock, contractors under the
Corporation. Mr. Bellamy, with his staff, Messrs. Prigg, A. G. Davey,
S. Chapman, and G. A. Picken, worked without intermission, and had an
arduous and an anxious time. Messrs. Barrett, Monk, and Mayne, managed
the commissariat department, which was no light task, with admirable
efficiency. Before the party of workers broke up the Mayor thanked, in
the name of the town of Plymouth, all those who had assisted in the
labour of averting a great calamity. Thanks were also offered to the
railway officials for the efficiency of the train service. It was not
until Sunday morning that a full supply of water began to flow into the
cisterns, but after Saturday night all apprehension had ceased, and
within a few hours the discomforts of the previous few days, as far as
want of water was concerned, were removed.

Although great and growing inconvenience was caused towards the latter
end of the week to all the inhabitants of Plymouth by the partial
deprivation of water, things never reached the same pass as they did
in the famine of 1881. Stonehouse had plenty of water, and was able to
assist in supplying the western end of Plymouth. By order of the Local
Board standpipes were on the Saturday erected at the Malt House, and in
Millbay Road, Union Place and Eldad Hill, and all day long residents of
Plymouth were supplied from these. In some parts of Plymouth families
were in great difficulty, and water borrowing, where practicable, went
forward on a large scale. Messrs. Polkinghorne, at their brewery in
Bedford Street, Messrs. Denniford & Son, mineral water manufacturers of
Russel Street, and Mr. Lewis, aërated water manufacturer of Athenæum
Street, supplied hundreds of the inhabitants, free of charge, from
their artesian wells.

At a meeting of the Plymouth Borough Council subsequently held, formal
votes of thanks were passed to a number of citizens, as well as the
military authorities, for the services they had rendered, and a rate of
remuneration to the soldiers for their valuable service was fixed upon.

As soon as the Plymouth water difficulty was satisfactorily overcome,
it was discovered that the Devonport leat, also on Dartmoor, was
blocked. Mr. Francis, C. E., manager to the Devonport Waterworks
Company, set out for Princetown to inspect the place, and as speedily
as possible gangs of men were put on to work on the different parts
of the leat. Some serious difficulties were encountered, most of the
snow being frozen quite hard, and forming barriers fifteen feet deep,
while in one spot, near Lowery Lane, a tree, fourteen feet in girth,
had, fallen right across the leat. This tree was removed by means
of lifting jacks, after having been cut in two. After many trials of
patience, extending over several days, the toilers were rewarded with
well-deserved success, and the water once more flowed freely. This
was a fortunate result, for, besides the inhabitants of Devonport and
Stonehouse, the regiments in garrison, the Naval Barracks, the Engineer
Students, and the Royal Marine Barracks, are dependent on the Devonport
Water Company for their supply of water.



CHAPTER VIII.

SOME STRANGE EXPERIENCES.


For many years to come residents of the western counties will have
tales to relate of marvellous incidents, involving both great and small
consequences, that occurred in connection with this memorable blizzard.
The remarkable tenacity of life exhibited by birds and animals had been
probably wholly unsuspected, until this recent sudden storm supplied
the opportunity for its discovery. We have already heard of lambs born
under the snow; of geese hatching their young within a day or two of
release from days under a heavy snow coverlid, which not only covered
but enwrapped them; and of horses being dug out alive and well after a
night's chilly burial.

An experience of this kind, as curious as any, was that of Mr. J.
Trant, of Redlap, Stoke Fleming, who dug a lamb out of a snow-drift,
where it had lain buried for sixteen days. To quote the words of our
informant, "the little creature seemed none the worse for its long
imprisonment, but began to graze as soon as it was released. I have
just seen it, and it was busy making up for lost time." Mr. Trevethan,
of Beer Barton Farm, Beerferris, also met with some instances of this
kind. After he had succeeded in releasing his lambs, of which he had
missed a large number, he found them generally weak, and rather
drowsy, but they at once bleated for their mothers, and their call
being answered, they trotted off in the direction from which the call
came. A bottle of gin was kept on hand for the resuscitation of the
recovered creatures, and its efficacy in imparting the needed warmth is
highly spoken of.

Mr. Trevethan's shepherd was making for his cottage on Monday evening,
carrying with him a basket of provisions which he had been into the
village to purchase. In attempting to get over a gate, within a short
distance of some outhouses that stood between him and his cottage,
he was separated from his basket by a violent gust of wind. Picking
himself up, he reached his home in safety, and his basket was found,
after a few days, empty. In the course of the following week, while
clearing up his garden, he discovered, under some feet of snow,
a package of tea, which had formed part of the Monday's stock of
provisions, lost from the basket. The package, which was unbroken, and
in good condition, had evidently preceded him to his home more than a
week before.

"Mrs. Hatherley, living near Bickleigh, missed a hen, which she
naturally gave up as lost. After a lapse of ten days, a cackling was
heard to proceed from under a heap of snow. On going to the place, Mrs.
Hatherley was surprised to find the long-lost hen force an exit through
the snow, and, flapping its wings, make its way home to the house with
all speed. Mrs. Hatherley then examined the spot, and found on the
ground two eggs which the bird had laid whilst held prisoner by the
snow."

Mr. George Sara, of Plymouth, traveller for Messrs. Cadbury Bros.,
was enabled during the Monday night of the storm to administer comfort
to his fellow-travellers. The train by which he was travelling on the
Great Western line from Penzance to Plymouth became snowed up at St.
German's. Mr. Sara, happening to have his samples with him, and hot
water being available, was able to dispense cups of chocolate to his
companions. Some Easter eggs, made of chocolate, are described by the
narrator of the story as forming an excellent ingredient for a beverage
of this kind. Approval of the samples of Messrs. Cadbury Bros.' wares
was expressed by all the belated travellers who had the good fortune to
taste them.

[Illustration: A ROOM AT WALREDDON MANOR, TAVISTOCK.]

Snow effects resulting from this storm were remarkable in many places,
but perhaps none could be found more striking than the illustration we
give of the result of leaving open, a few inches, a lattice window,
facing north, at Walreddon Manor, near Tavistock, on the night of
Monday, March 9th. The illustration is from a photograph kindly
supplied by Henry D. Nicholson, Esq.

At the Land's End the gale was very severe, and the snowed-up
passengers on the omnibus from Penzance to St. Just on Monday night
had a dreadful time. They left Penzance about six o'clock, and should
have reached St. Just by half-past seven, but it was nine o'clock
before the 'bus reached the point where it had to remain, some three
miles from St. Just. The horses failed to proceed, and the driver, a
young man about 20, was also very much exhausted. He unhitched the
horses, and proceeded to a farmhouse near and asked for shelter. This
was refused him, the people of the house saying that there was no room
for the horses, as all their cattle were in the house. He begged for
admittance, and offered to stand by the horses all night, but he was
again refused. Not knowing what else to do, he took the harness off the
horses, turned their heads towards St. Just, and told them to go home.
The horses went off in the darkness, and he saw them no more. They did
not reach home, but were recovered alive next day. The driver returned
to his passengers in the omnibus, and remained with them until midday
on Tuesday.

Mr. William Penrose, of Bojewan, St. Just, had also a terrible
experience on Monday night. He arrived at Penzance by the half-past
six down-train, intending to catch the omnibus, but, finding it gone,
he walked after it. Not catching it, he struggled on through the storm
for several hours. Some time in the night he found himself near a
farmhouse. The people of the house had gone to bed, and there was no
light, but he knocked vigorously at the door, succeeded in awaking the
inmates, and asked to be admitted, as he was well nigh exhausted. The
farmer, however, refused to admit him, and, after a long rest under the
shelter of the house, he battled again with the storm, determined to
make another effort for life. He finally reached the snowed-up omnibus
at six in the morning more dead than alive, having been exposed to the
storm for twelve hours. Instances of inhospitality such as these were
rare during the blizzard, and they are worth recording on that account.

Mr. Theo H. Willcocks relates as follows:--

"On the memorable Monday night, the storm raging furiously and showing
no signs of abating, I left the Molesworth Arms, Wadebridge, at about
eight o'clock, after being persuaded to do otherwise by the worthy
proprietor, Mr. S. Pollard, and numerous other friends, and made tracks
for Tregorden, some two miles distant. The town itself was desolate in
the extreme, the streets being absolutely deserted except by a passing
chimney-pot or tile.

"The wind howled and whistled as I wended my way over the bridge,
hurling the flakes in my face with almost blinding force, but at the
far end I found myself greatly sheltered, and made fairly good progress
over the hill until I reached Ball, where I encountered the full
force of the gale. It must have taken me at least ten minutes making
100 yards, at the end of which I was thoroughly exhausted, but managed
to reach the cottage occupied by Eliza Burton, which I entered; after
furiously rapping the door to wake the inmates, who had retired for the
night. Here I received the kindest attention, also severe ridicule from
'Dick,' a person of no mean size, and the man of the house, for being
obliged to seek help. He immediately volunteered to accompany me, so
after lighting a lantern, and getting tied up securely, as we thought,
from the tempest we closed the door behind us.

"By this time the snow in the highway was several inches in depth, and
the storm raged with greater fury than ever. On turning down Tregorden
Lane, this road, though running nearly at right angles to the wind,
was being rapidly filled, for the blizzard came rushing across a
twelve-acre field, with nothing to impede its course, and, gathering
the snow up in clouds, whirled it along until it reached this sheltered
lane, where it came over the hedge and through the bushes in streams
of sleet, and it was as though we were inhaling icicles, for when we
turned our backs it was just the same. It pierced our clothes, freezing
as it did so, and our hair and necks became saturated with the driving
snow which formed into a mass of ice. The lane was rapidly becoming
impassable, the snow being now even up to our waists. In this state we
plodded along for a short distance, I being determined that this time
'Dick' should be the first to be beaten, and I had not long to wait,
for he gasped out 'Let's turn back, I am done;' so round we turned and
struggled back to the cottage more dead than alive, having been out for
some twenty-five minutes. Eliza, prophesying our return, had by this
time got up a roaring fire, and at once forced some hot brandy down our
throats, after which we changed our stiff clothes and made ourselves
comfortable for the night before the fire, and I enjoyed a cup of tea
as I did not know how to before." On the following day the narrator was
able to proceed to Tregorden.

Among other peculiar and beautiful forms taken by the blizzard snow,
and seen with great effect during the sunshine of the Wednesday after
the storm, were the huge, shell-shaped hollows scooped out by the wind
from the snow-drifts. An examination of many of our illustrations will
reveal examples of this very unusual feature. In the accompanying
scene, which is a view of a drift in the Liskeard cricket field, the
peculiarity is very marked, the hollow being apparently sufficiently
deep to cause the surface of the drift to overhang for some two or
three feet.

Brief reference has already been made in another chapter to the gallant
exploits of Mr. Harold S. Williams, of Torridge, near Plympton.
On Tuesday afternoon, at about five o'clock, he left his home and
proceeded in the direction of the Great Western Railway line. Making
his way in the storm, he found No. 160 engine standing in a deep drift
which had formed on the bridge crossing the lane leading from the
George Hotel. Alone on the engine was the driver, Coleman, in imminent
danger of being frozen to death. Getting back as fast as possible to
Torridge, Mr. Williams procured stimulants. Returning to the driver,
he found him almost in a state of collapse. All he could say was, "I'm
dying, I'm dying." Mr. Williams, who showed great pluck and presence
of mind, got him off the engine, and conducted him towards Torridge,
nearing which a portion of a relief party was met, and they carried
the driver into the house. By that time he had become unconscious, but
restoratives having been administered, and Coleman's limbs vigorously
rubbed, he in about an hour was restored to partial consciousness.
He remained the guest of Mr. Williams all night, and next day had
sufficiently recovered to be removed to his home.

[Illustration: DRIFT, CRICKET FIELD, LISKEARD.]

Not long after Coleman had been received into Torridge, news was
brought that another driver, rather further up the line, was dying. Mr.
Williams, who is only nineteen years of age, again started on an errand
of mercy and rescue. This time he was accompanied by Mr. Thornton, his
tutor, and some of the relief party, who had helped to carry Coleman
into his hospitable home. About 150 yards beyond Coleman's engine the
party came across another engine completely buried in the snow, even to
the funnel. Lying near to it was its driver, who had evidently crawled
off the footplate in the hope of reaching shelter from the bitter
snowstorm. At once he was carried to Torridge, apparently dead, and was
laid on a mattress before a large fire.

An attempt to administer restoratives failed, so tightly was the man's
teeth clenched. All that could be done was to promote circulation
by the warmth of fire and friction. Rubbing the limbs and body was
persevered in, and at length the man gave a groan. That, however,
was the only sign of life he gave for three hours, during which
time the rubbing was persevered in by relays of helpers. Two hours
afterwards--that is five hours after he had been brought in--he was
sufficiently recovered to speak, but it was some time after that before
it could be said that he was out of danger. When he first recovered
speech he was found to be delirious, and he continued in a state of
delirium, more or less, the whole of the night.

When Mr. C. C. Compton, the divisional superintendent, called at
Torridge early next morning, to ascertain how the driver was, it was
reported that he was making favourable recovery, but that it would not
be possible to remove him for some days. The man suffered much in his
legs and feet, which are believed to be considerably frostbitten. His
hands appeared to be all right. He remained some time at Torridge, and
was most carefully tended. Eventually he and the driver first rescued
recovered.

A plucky journey was undertaken on the Wednesday after the storm by
Captain Cowie, R.E., with a view to ascertaining the damage done
between Totnes and Plympton to the postal telegraph wires, and being
unable to proceed on the journey by rail in consequence of the blocks
_en route_, he set out from the former place with a determination to
cover the distance on foot. He was the first to attempt the venturesome
task, and the consciousness of the difficulties that would have to
be encountered did not appear to trouble him. Proceeding as fast as
circumstances would permit, he eventually accomplished the journey of
nineteen miles, meeting with hardly a solitary individual the whole of
the way.

It is almost needless to say that his experiences were of a most trying
and perilous character. The road being impassable at many points he
mounted the hedges, and occasionally losing his footing he fell into
snowdrifts many feet high, being completely buried. He succeeded in
releasing himself from his dangerous predicament, but on each of
the occasions he met with this misfortune there was absolutely no
assistance at hand even should it have been required. He ultimately
reached Kingsbridge Road, and notwithstanding the adventures which he
had already experienced, he decided to continue the journey to Plympton.

Having regaled himself with a little milk and some light refreshment,
he started off again, and the remainder of the journey was no less
perilous than the portion already accomplished had been. He had to
wade through accumulations of snow almost as high as himself, and
was frequently compelled to crawl along on his hands and knees. He
eventually reached Plympton, saturated with water and sore from the
difficult and dangerous ordeal he had passed through, and here left
instructions for some men to follow him, finding, however, that the
wires _en route_ had suffered very little damage.


    THE END.


    A. H. SWISS, "BREMNER" PRINTING WORKS,
    FORE STREET, DEVONPORT.



Transcriber's Notes

In the first chapter, much of the meterological data does not make
sense but there was no way to correct it.

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Hyphen removed: bed[-]rooms (p. 141), break[-]down (pp. 23, 44, 47).

Hyphen added: down[-]train (pp. 46, 51, 120, 162), sea[-]port (pp. 98,
100).

The following words appear both with and without hyphens and have not
been changed: farm[-]house, life[-]boat(s), mid[-]day.

"a.m." and "p.m." changed to small capitals (pp. 33, 103, 110).

P. 57: "on on" changed to "on" (Whilst the heavy squalls were on
Tuesday).

P. 143: "thermometer" changed to "barometer" (calm, and barometer
29·60).





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