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Your 8-page Big Freeze picture special

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The week we nearly slithered to a stop IT WAS a week when for a short while it looked as if Liverpool and Merseyside were going to freeze solid. After a frosty Monday, the snows came overnight and turned Tuesday morning into the proverbial winter wonderland. The warning signs were there to be seen when many of the city’s schools decided to close for the day as teachers struggled to get into work and heads decided that slippery yards covered in snow were too much of a health hazard. But the agony really started later in the day as the first flurries of lunchtime snow turned in to a full-scale blizzard. Shops and offices in the city centre started to send their staff home early, but by then it was too late. Buses were slipping and sliding everywhere before they were eventually withdrawn. Council gritting teams were just overwhelmed by the sudden ferocity of the weather, and by late afternoon, the city centre streets were one giant car park.

Suddenly Merseyrail, the commuter network we had loved to hate, became the hero of the hour, hardly missing a beat as it ferried people in and out of the city amidst the chaos.

And chaos it was. Drivers were taking literally hours just to get as far as the suburbs of Liverpool. As cars backed up in Birkenhead, police had to close the Kingsway tunnel for a while, triggering yet more chaos back in Liverpool as cars ground to a halt. Everywhere it seemed as if the city was shutting down. Non-emergency appointments were cancelled at hospitals across the region, while accident and emergency units braced themselves for a rush as pedestrians went crashing to the ground on the ice. Court hearings were thrown into disarray. Judge David Fletcher was stranded in Stoke on Trent, which brought the Liverpool Community Justice Centre in Vauxhall to a halt, while prisoners in the custody suite attached to the magistrates’ court in Huyton had to be moved on when their cells became too cold. But they didn’t get very far – plans to move cases to the courts at nearby St Helens had to be abandoned when they too fell victim to the snow. Cain’s Brewery and the big car plants of Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall had to switch their energy to oil to help conserve gas, while across the North West companies started reckoning up the cost. First estimates were that it could be £25m, possibly even doubling if it becomes a prolonged freeze. As day two dawned of the big freeze, travellers started to compare their


PEAKS: Snow covers the top of the arch at the entrance to Liverpool's Chinatown Picture: JAMES MALONEY/

stories. Two and a half hours to Mossley Hill? Nothing compared to the seven hours it took one Echo journalist to drive in from Runcorn, or the four hours that others took to get home to Wirral. Heroes began to emerge. Top of the list was Merseyrail, where staff grafted beyond the call of duty to keep the trains running. Then came the individual acts, such as Kevin Hollis, who delivered his own baby daughter in the middle of the M53, guided by ambulance staff on his mobile phone. Council staff in St Helens turned to 4x4 vehicles to help the meals on wheel service get through, while offenders on community service orders were drafted in to help clear snow in Sefton and Knowsley. By Friday the immediate crisis was winding down, but the inquests were only just starting. Where were the gritters? Did schools really have to shut down for the rest of the week? The debate looks like being fast and furious in the days to come.


CHILLY: The Liverbirds in the big freeze Picture: GARETH JONES/ GRJ070110 WEATHER-2

BLIZZARD: Shoppers in Liverpool city centre brave the storm


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CAREFUL: Traffic crawls past the Anglican Cathedral



AT HOME: A cold snap for Go Penguins at The Strand



RISKY: A shopper takes cover in Woolton Village during a blizzard

Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY/at050110bsnow-5

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


ICY: A blizzard hits the Pier Head canal link


WHITE-OUT: Snow-covered Woolton Road

Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY/at050110bsnow-2

ARCTIC MERSEYSIDE: Ince Blundell woods near Formby Picture: COLIN LANE/ CL241209POSTCARD-1

COOL RUNNING: Families enjoy the snow on Otterspool Prom


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010



FROZEN IN TIME: The Arts Centre clock tower in Lord Street, Southport


NOT SO TROPICAL: The Palm House in Sefton Park (right) Picture: COLIN LANE/CL050110SNOW-7

EASY: Sophie Whitgreave (left) gets a tow from her two-year-old pet Lemi in Croxteth Hall country park



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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Lucky ones who had a snow playground EVERY cloud has a silver lining, and the one that brought chaos to Merseyside last week was no exception. It was a great time to be a youngster as schools shut down across the city and stayed shut in many cases for the rest of the week. Maybe it wasn’t so brilliant for the grown-ups who had to stay at home to keep an eye on them, but for anyone else Liverpool and Merseyside had suddenly become one big snowy playground. Plastic toboggans were snapped up from the toy shops, and once they had run out, it was time to improvise, with makeshift sledges knocked up from scrap timber or even just a supermarket plastic bag to keep clothes dry as revellers shot down the slippery slopes. Suddenly parks with steep slopes were all the rage, particularly Everton Park in the north end of Liverpool and Camp Hill in Woolton, always a magnet the moment snow falls and sticks to the ground.

Elsewhere it was time – if you could – to get out of doors and take in the wonders of a transformed landscape.

If you couldn’t get into work, or had to stay at home to keep an eye on the little ones, it was time to make the best of a bad job and get out of doors. Amateur photographers had a field day snapping images of the type that come only once every few years, and hardened climbers of the sort that would head for the Alps or the Scottish Highlands suddenly discovered that they had only to step out of their own front doors to make use of their crampons and ice axes. Students at Liverpool John Moores University found that exams scheduled for Wednesday had been cancelled. But then they were faced with some serious decision-making – use the time to cram in some extra revision in the affected papers in law, engineering and science, or stuff the academic work and go out for a snowball fight? It was a time when sometimes, you just had to do the traditional thing and build a snowman, the bigger the better. Forget the penguins in Liverpool – even though the weather was just right for them – there were snowmen everywhere togged up in old clothes and no two of them exactly the same. And if going traditional with a snowman was not your thing, you could always pay tribute to your

by BILL LEECE favourite television show with a snowdalek. All it took was a bit of imagination, a sink plunger, a kitchen whisk and a colander for the top and the demented pepperpots were on the march again, seemingly ready to exterminate anyone who crossed their path. Pet husky dogs were drafted in to do what they were bred to do and pull sledges, and if your dog wasn’t a husky, you could always try! There was inevitably a downside for those out and about enjoying themselves. It’s great fun slipping and sliding when you're prepared for it, but an unexpected fall can leave some nasty bruising, a twisted ankle, broken wrists or even worse. Accident and emergency staff in hospitals across the region had little time to go out and enjoy themselves as the level of injuries from falls doubled at the beginning of the week. And tempting as it was to venture out across the ice in the frozen park lakes and take in a completely different viewpoint, there was always the risk that it could crack at any minute. Not worth it, said the health and safety people, and although it’s always easy to poke fun at the elf ’n’ safety brigade, this time they were right. A plunge into icy water can kill even it it’s only as far as your waist, as some people found out to their cost, though fortunately not in or around Liverpool.

SNOW DRIFT: Children in Birkdale made the most of a day out of school Pictures: GARETH JONES/GRJ060110WEATHER-2 (above)

and GRJ060110WEATHER-3 (right)

TASTY: Knowsley Safari Park’s troop of baboons chow down on baked potatoes

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


SNOW AT LAST: This dog in Sefton Park felt right at home

Picture: Gareth Jones/GRJ050110WEATHER-1

MUSH: Ellie Robinson, from Speke, enjoys a free ride Picture: PAUL HEAPS/ PH060110FSNOW-2

PLENTY TO SHOUT ABOUT: Families and friends had fun in Newsham Park, Tuebrook

Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY/at060110eweather-4

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


WINTER SCENE: St John’s Gardens pictured from the World Museum steps


SNOWBOUND: Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral dominates the city scene from the Radio City Tower Picture courtesy of Radio City

ICE DUNES: Arctic conditions on Southport beach


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Merseyside Big Freeze, Liverpool Echo  
Merseyside Big Freeze, Liverpool Echo  

Your 8-page Big Freeze picture special from the Liverpool Echo.