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Remembering Greater Manchester’s harshest winter known as the ‘Big Freeze’

As our region sees the first snow, let’s take a trip down memory lane…



Wintry scene at the Old Shambles in Manchester, January 1955. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

The winter of 1962-3 was unique for Bolton Wanderers. They didn’t concede a point or a single goal – and never lost a match.

But they didn’t win any either. In fact they failed to play at all from December 8th to February 16th.

Bolton were frozen out – quite literally. And they weren’t the only ones.

The fierce winter played havoc with the sports programme as well as causing widespread disruption across the North West.

Matt Busby and Jimmy Hill swap gifts after a snow-free friendly in Ireland, January 1963. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

Manchester United were so desperate for a friendly that they flew to Ireland to take on fellow First Division Club Coventry City.

United manager Matt Busby and his counterpart Jimmy Hill swapped presents after the 2-2 draw played at Glenmalure Park, the home of Shamrock Rovers.

Both teams were grateful to be able to train away from the snow and ice that had gripped the mainland.

A bleak Saddleworth Moor in the icy grip of winter, April 1966. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

The winter, also known as the Big Freeze of 1963, was the coldest England had known since 1684. Lakes and rivers froze over – and even the sea turned to ice in some coastal areas.

Heavy snow fell over the Christmas period, particularly on Boxing Day, bringing the first blast of cold air that would linger until March.

A blizzard swept across England and Wales on December 29th and 30th, driven by gale force easterly winds. Snow drifts were 20 feet deep.

Roads and railways were blocked and planes were grounded. Towns and villages were cut off and left without electricity as powerlines were brought down.

Snow lay six inches deep in Manchester city centre and nine inches deep in Wythenshawe.

It’s a dog’s life when your kennel freezes! Winter on a farm near Manchester, January 1964. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

There was no let-up in January with an average temperature of -2.1C. The sea froze a mile out from shore in Kent and freezing fog swept the North West.

Three-foot icicles hung from roof gutters as temperature plummeted to -19.4C before more blizzards struck in February.

March 6th was the first morning of the year without any frost in Britain. The remaining snow finally started to disappear and sport caught up with a long backlog of fixtures.

Children from St Luke’s Primary School enjoy the snow, January 1959. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

The winter of 1959 brought its fair share of snow to Manchester too. But it provided the thrill of a lifetime for children from St Luke’s Primary School.

Each child had been saving threepence a week for the chance to enjoy a picnic in the snow – proper snow that hadn’t turned black in the soot and grime of the city centre.

They had a wonderful time sledging and snowballing as our picture proves – although they look grateful for the hot drinks handed round by teacher Miss Ethel Parkinson!

Manchester City take on Blackburn Rovers on an icy pitch, January 1984. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

Manchester City played what many regard as the greatest game on ice when they trounced Tottenham 4-1 at Maine Road in December 1967.

City captain Tony Book remembered an old trick he’d learnt playing non-league football in icy conditions. It involved filing the leather off boot studs to expose the nail underneath.

The dodge worked a treat. ‘City moved like Olympic skaters while we looked like clowns on a skid patch,’ said one bemused Spurs player. 

City’s confidence surged in the cold and they went on to win the league with 58 points – two points ahead of local rivals United.

Manchester United’s Mark Hughes kicks up a flurry of snow against Southampton, March 1986. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

More snow fell in January 1984 when City took on Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Our photo shows the players kicking up snow and ice jostling for the ball. No gloves though!

The Division Two clash ended in a 2-1 win for Blackburn. City just missed out on promotion finishing fourth with 70 points.

United striker Mark Hughes was almost covered in snow as he battled for the ball against Southampton at the Dell in March 1986.

The Red Devils lost the Division One match 0-1 and eventually finished fourth in the league under manager Ron Atkinson.

The Rovers Return gets a dusting of snow on the Coronation Street set, November 2014. CREDIT: Mirrorpix

Finally, even Granada TV’s long-running soap Coronation Street has fallen victim to the wintry weather.

There were no problems in 1963 when the interior set kept the cast safe and warm, but filming had to be cancelled in March last year when heavy snow swept the outside set.

For once the fake snow traditionally applied to the Rovers Return was for real!

If you enjoyed this head over to the iNostalgia website here for more interesting tales about Manchester’s history.


Take a look inside the creepy abandoned Belle Vue Showcase cinema

Who else has great memories of this place?



Mark Gardener

The Belle Vue Showcase cinema was somewhat of an iconic venue in Manchester, however, it is set to be demolished and replaced. 

The news came late last year that the cinema would be demolished to make way for a new secondary school.

The school, ran by the Co-op, is planning on having its first year sevens students in by September, although they’ll be placed in temporary buildings.

Sir Robert McAlpine / Space Architects

The new Co-Op Academy Belle Vue school is set to be finished in 2023, and a first glimpse of what it will look like has now been released. 

Newly released documents show a modern L-shaped building, which will be split into three different ‘zones’, including a two-storey sports block – complete with a sports hall, auditorium, and drama studio.

Mark Gardener
Mark Gardener

The iconic cinema first opened its doors in 1989 boasting a huge 14 screens in the entertainment complex.

Closing its doors back in March 2020, the cinema had been left abandoned all last year and started to look seriously creepy. 

Mark Gardener
Mark Gardener

The timeline for demolition hasn’t been given yet, and parents had to have applied for their child’s place in the new school by November 2nd last year – in case you were wanting to. 

Once the grounds of Belle Vue zoo and amusement park, the area will definitely have some stories to tell.

Mark Gardener
Mark Gardener

The Belle Vue Showcase cinema was one of the first multi-screen complexes to open up, bringing American films, no queues and car parks to fit a 1,000 cars – it was unlike anything that had ever been seen before when it first opened back in 1989.

Back in February last year when rumours began to circulate the cinema would be closing, Mark Barlow, general manager at Showcase Cinemas UK, said: “As the leader in UK cinema innovation, Showcase Cinemas remains committed to operating a cinema in Manchester and as such are in active discussions about future opportunities for a new, state-of-art cinema in the city.”

If you’re going to miss this iconic venue, the company are said to be looking into a new unnamed location for another cinema. They added that they ‘remain fully committed to the city’. 

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The 12 retro chocolate bars that need to be brought back immediately

Nostalgia guaranteed…



Sadly many of the chocolate bars we were once delighted to see in our lunchbox no longer exist, snatched from us way before their time.

And I’m not the only one upset. Hundreds of petitions have been set up to bring back some retro classics and a handful have even been successful.

Last year, Cadbury announced it’s bringing back the Marble bar (only in Australia, unfortunately), proving that nagging works.

We’re still upset about a few other discontinued chocolate treats though…

White Maltesers

These delicious honeycomb and white chocolate balls were last tasted in 2014 and Mars have confirmed they have no intention of bringing them back. It’s a crime against humanity.

Poundland does its own version if you can’t go another minute with eating one. Sure, it’s not the original but they are almost as good.

Credit: Cadbury

Cadbury Dream

This white chocolate revelation from Cadbury was taken from us too soon. It first graced the shelves back in 2002 and fizzled away just a few short years after.

You can still get the original in Australia and New Zealand and import it over if you’re that dedicated to the cause. Personally, I’d like to see this in corner shops all around the UK.

Credit: Galaxy

Galaxy Truffles

There was nothing quite like the feeling of dunking your hand in a box of Celebrations and pulling out a Galaxy Truffle.

That feeling was pure happiness and frankly, we all need it back. They’ve released some sort of knock-off Nigel version but I’m not buying it. We want the originals.

Credit: Cadbury

Time Out

It wasn’t until I started researching this that I discovered Time Out bars had sneakily been taken off our shelves and replaced with a single wafer version called Time Out Wafer.

Clever but you’re not fooling me with this smaller alternative.

Credit: Cadbury

Cadbury Snaps

Two words we didn’t know we needed putting together; chocolate and crisps. Essentially these bad boys were chocolate Pringles and how iconic were they?

We lost these to the discontinued pile back in 2010 and things haven’t been the same since.

Credit: Mars

Mars Delight

The Mars Delight led a short life, just 4 small years. In part due to the fact that it was one of the most calorific bars ever made and it was released just when we were all getting fit – unfortunate timing.

6,423 signed a petition to bring these back in 2016 but there was no luck.

Credit: Cadbury

Flake Snow

She is beauty, she is grace! Another bad decision from Cadbury was to remove the Flake Snow from our lives.

Nothing beats the promo of this either, a sponsored photoshoot at Anthea Turner’s wedding?! ICONIC.

Credit: Fox’s


Fox’s Echo bars were classic lunch box biscuits. They were discontinued and replaced with an inferior bar that we won’t even give any limelight.

Absolutely partial to a mint one but nothing could beat that mix of white and milk chocolate that would just melt in your mouth.

Credit: Cadbury

Cadbury Marble

Cadbury Marble is only back in Australia so it is definitely going in the list of things we need back in the UK.

Marble is quite possibly one of the most missed creations of Cadbury, complete with swirls of milk chocolate, white chocolate and hazelnut praline. Dribbling already. 

Credit: Cadbury

Wispa Mint

These rivalled Aero Mint (easily) but unfortunately never proved popular enough, being taken from our shelves back in 2003. Something about that velvety chocolate though… 

Credit: Cadbury

Cadbury Taz

The best thing you could get with the spare change you’d find down the sofa was a Cadbury Taz or a Freddo. The Taz has been replaced with a caramel Freddo instead, and I’m sorry but it’s just not the same.

Credit: Cadbury

Cadbury Spira

This is like an ’80s version of a Twirl. Because I was born in 1996 I can’t comment on this bad boy, but I’ve heard good things and there is a petition to bring it back so they must’ve been popular enough to create an army of fans.  

Have we missed any? Let us know in the Facebook comments…

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There’s an abandoned bar hidden underneath Manchester’s Victoria Station

Would you dare explore underneath Victoria Station?



Finest Media &

The Urban Collective search cities and urban landscapes for hidden, unexplored derelict sites, filming the process so we get to see. 

Recently, The Urban Collective headed underneath Manchester’s Victoria Station to see the inner workings beneath the station.

Manchester’s Victoria Train Station opened all the way back in 1844, and was designed to help connect Leeds with the port city of Liverpool via train. 

The initial building was designed by the ‘Father of Railways’, George Stephenson, who was heavily involved in the UK’s early rail networks. 

Finest Media
Finest Media

The original building was a long, single-storey structure that you can still see just next to the large Arena steps. 

By the early 1900s, the station had 17 platforms and a huge façade, designed by William Dawes, which still exists today.

The Urban Collective headed underneath the station via the old station offices in the main building, and descended into the now derelict B.R.S.A club.

Finest Media

The club was an underground bar owned by the British Railway Staff Association, and operated as a typical working men’s club during the ’70s and ’80s.

It’s tucked away below the station and the street itself, with punters heading down for a pint near the top station entrance.

You could also get in via the glass building over the road, which later became a barbers.

The bar, topped with glass, as well as wooden floors and other original features are still intact. There’s even a creepy cellar full of crates and thousands of discarded lager bottles.

Old posters are still on the walls, plus there’s even electricity still supplied which makes the fan above the dance floor occasionally spin. 

Members nicknamed their fave spot ‘The Vic Bars’, and train staff regularly attended day and night to see organists and cabaret acts throughout the week.

The club was eventually closed in 1992 and has remained derelict and forgotten ever since. 

However, the club unit is now under offer as a potential new club, pub or retail unit, despite the considerable amount of work that needs to be undertaken. 

You can check out The Urban Collective on YouTube here.


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