This film is part of Free

The Frozen Sea at Herne Bay in 1963

John Clague's remarkable look at an ice-bound and shivering Herne Bay during Britain's Big Freeze of 1963

Amateur film 1963 5 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


John Clague's dramatic footage shows a rare weather phenomenon during the bitterly cold winter of 1963. Starting with views of the snow covered beach, seabirds look for food as waves come ashore. The sea is calm but now large patches of ice are seen forming on the surface. On subsequent days we see the ice stretching away to the horizon. Even the kilometre long pier is completely enclosed in the ice while the citizens of Herne Bay come to watch and wonder at the amazing spectacle.

John Clague was a keen amateur filmmaker who was based in Herne Bay. From 1934 to 1970 he produced annual newsreels showing events in Kent, particularly in Herne Bay and Canterbury. He used 9.5mm film at first but by the 1950s had adopted 16mm film and the collection forms a lively chronicle of Kentish life over 36 years. An architect by profession, John set up his own company in the 1930s, working on a diverse range of projects throughout the region.