Now that’s what you call a winter!

A white slide into town for cars on the bank from Hart towards Dunston Road.
A white slide into town for cars on the bank from Hart towards Dunston Road.

We’re basking in a relatively balmy plus-five degrees weather at the moment.

But spare a thought for the people of Hartlepool 30 years ago. They had it bad in the winter of 1987.

These St Teresas Primary School pupils get to enjoy a snowball fight.

These St Teresas Primary School pupils get to enjoy a snowball fight.

On one day alone, 1,000 town families had no water supply and 300 motorists had to call the AA because of flat batteries.

Hartlepool firemen were up all night as the weather was so cold it triggered off hundreds of fire alarms across town.

Hartlepool General Hospital had to cope with a constant arrival of people who had injured themselves in falls.

Two bus companies were under pressure from the weather. United buses were getting stranded on the roads as they were freezing up, and a spokesman for Trimdon Motor Services said at the time: “Our vehicles are all out on the roads but we just do not know where!”

Weathermen warned of worse to come as stone-cold conditions left cars breaking down by the hundred, bus and train bosses struggling to maintain services, and burst water mains leaving almost 1,000 Hartlepool families without supplies

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1987

It was so bad, the Hartlepool Mail brought out a full page Beat The Freeze guide for elderly people on how to cope with the conditions. It was prompted by the news that pensioners from the town were constantly phoning the Cleveland Elderly At Home project.

Some were worried about their fuel bills as it was so cold. Others wanted hypothermia thermometers to keep tabs on the temperatures in their homes.

Every road on Teesside was covered in snow and in County Durham, snow was up to eight inches deep.

Traffic had ground almost to a halt, said a police spokesman at the time.

Hartlepool Council workmen handled 200 calls about frozen pipes in one day while water authority workers were trying to sort out two huge water bursts, one in Elwick Road and one in Raby Road.

Jesmond Road Junior School pupils were sent home because of heating problems at the school.

A day later, Hartlepool council was coping with another 400 burst pipes and Hartlepool Age Concern was beginning to be bombarded with calls – not from local people, though.

It was from concerned relatives as far away as Coventry who wanted to check on their elderly loved ones in the town.

Rail journeys were subject to cancellations and most minor roads across the area were cut off because of ice.

And ice was causing problems at Ward Jackson Park’s lake, which had frozen over and attracted young skaters, prompting a police warning about the dangers.

It was good news for some, though.

Children from St Teresa’s Primary School got to enjoy snowball fights and Northern Gas reported record levels of customer gas usage as people struggled to stay warm.

Who remembers the big 1987 freeze? Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk