Children collecting wood from fallen trees
Wednesday 29th March 1916: News is coming in of the damage caused by yesterday’s great storm. In the town centre of Bedford a gable end blew in over Messrs Golding and Company’s shop in the High Street. The Bull clock and the Town Clock were blocked up with snow and both stopped at quarter past three. At the Modern School a flagstaff was blown over, smashing one of the battlements of the turret, and in Midland Road a window, complete with its frame, was blown out of the Co-operative Society’s Hall. Along with the gale came flooding as Monday night’s snow melted; many houses were flooded out at Biddenham and at Goldington the green was largely underwater and a number of cottages were surrounded.
Soldiers billeted in the Bedford area have begun clearing the many fallen trees from the roads and removing others which had been uprooted and toppled into the river at Bedford. In Newnham Lane no less than 39 large trees were blown down. The Town Council has permitted householders to fill their wood sheds by taking branches of no more than six inches diameter from the fallen trees, a task likely to take several days. In Kempston the famous walnut orchard of Mr. Walter Harter, J.P. has been wrecked by the great gale. Three hundred and sixty five trees had been planted in 1815 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. These had since been thinned, leaving about half the original number, and others have occasionally blown down; of the 160 remaining trees, only 40 survived yesterday’s storm.
At Luton the roof blew off a stand at the football ground, with part being flung onto the Great Northern railway line behind where it hit a standing railway carriage. The Club secretary estimates that the damage will cost £150. Some of the huts at Biscot Camp suffered badly and the men were housed for the night at the Corn Exchange, St. Mary’s Hall and the Fire Station. Many trees were blown down in Wardown Park and elsewhere, and a number of motor cars had to be abandoned by their drivers. An employee at the Vauxhall Motors works in Kimpton Road was badly injured by a falling bough on Tuesday evening as she was entering the mess-room.
During the initial snow fall on Monday evening a motor car collided with a footstone of the Market Cross at Leighton Buzzard due to snow obscuring the windscreen and covering the headlamps. On Tuesday afternoon farmer had great difficulty getting home from Leighton market, and a number of tradesmen were stranded during their delivery rounds. The Postmaster at Leighton reports that he has never seen or heard of such a “hopeless tangle of wires”, with all telegraphic communication interrupted and almost all telephone wires broken. Soulbury Road in Linslade was almost blocked by snow drifts three to four feet deep. At Husborne Crawley a large chimney stack was blown on to the roof of a public house where it crashed through the roof and through the bedroom floor into the room below; fortunately nobody was nearby and there were no injuries. Motor cars sent to meet the Duke of Bedford at Bletchley Station were unable to get there, and the Duke was forced to sleep on a couch at the Station Hotel, which was already full of stranded passengers. The next day he set out for Woburn in the hotel motor car but was stopped by fallen trees across the road; he then decided to walk to Woburn, leaving his valet and luggage to return to the station.
Sources: Luton News 30th March 1916; Leighton Buzzard Observer 4th April 1916; Bedfordshire Times 31st March & 7th April 1916; Bedfordshire Standard 7th April 1916