This film is part of Free

Calder/Hebble Canal - Freezing and Flooding

Fun and games for the men working the barges on a frozen Hebble Canal as they attempt by hook or by crook to break through the ice to deliver coal in the famous winter of 1947.

Non-Fiction 1947 15 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


The consequences of extreme weather are seen here in an earlier manifestation from 1947, as barges battle against the ice of a frozen Hebble Canal. Then the thaw brings flooding in its wake, leaving factories under many feet of water and causing barrels to float past the stranded cranes.

This 9.5 mm film was made by Howard Jackson of Halifax. The Calder and Hebble Navigation runs for 21 miles from Sowerby Bridge and connects with the River Calder at Wakefield. The Halifax section was closed in 1942, and the canals were nationalised the year after this film in 1948. The canal would carry coal from local pits such as Overton Colliery right up until 1955 when commercial use stopped. The famous winter of 1947 was at its most savage in March, hitting hard at a time of fuel and food shortages after the Second World War. Blizzards produced drifts up to 15 feet high, with some 2 million sheep perishing. And as the snow melted, this combined with high rainfall causing one of the wettest winters on record.