On this Day 10th April 1837

Heavy Snow in St Ives


The winter of 1836/37 is not generally cited as a particularly bad one but in St Ives the weather was severe enough to prompt John Tregerthen Short to comment several times in his diary:

April 4 Snow falling all night

April 8 This spring has been the most severe and most backward for a number of year. No grass; cattle dying for want of fodder. Beef 7 1/2d, pork 5 1/2d, butter 14d per pound.

April 10 All night a very heavy fall of snow

April 17 A sharp frost

Shortly before this, on February 13, he noted that influenza had been raging in St Ives since the beginning of the year. (see On This Day 13/2/1837)

The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 14 April 1837 reported, “At St Mawes Castle on the morning of the 10th inst., Mt Dixon, the master gunner, measured an icicle which had formed itself there of three feet in length.”

One three foot icicle does not a winter make but by west Cornish standards it's quite extreme and the weather wasn't restricted to west Cornwall, the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 10 March reported that it was extremely cold in France and snow was still falling regularly. Throughout April the Sherborne Mercury reported heavy snow and extreme cold in Devon with impassable roads and weather unprecedented for many years.

Not until 24 April do stories of improving weather appear when the Sherborne Mercury reports that, “The weather has been milder during the last few days and some April showers have fallen but the snow has not yet quite disappeared.”

The winter in Penwith had begun with what Tregerthen Short referred to as a “tremendous hurricane” from the W.N.W. which did serious damage to houses on November 29 1836. By late April his attention has switched to the fortunes of mackerel boats which were fishing 14 leagues from the shore and landing catches of 700-900 mackerel per boat at 22 shillings the hundred. He doesn't comment on the price of coal during this late cold weather so maybe the supply from south Wales was able to continue uninterrupted by more than the occasional short delay but weather like this must have taken a severe toll on the population of both humans and farm animals, pushing up the price of food and fodder and exacting a high price in the damp granite cottages heated by nothing more than furze.


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Growing Up in West Cornwall. A Publication by the Penwith Local History Group

"Growing Up in West Cornwall"

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