ON THIS DAY 1963: De-freeze of City Begins

Front page 4 Feb 1963. Photo: EDP Library Front page 4 Feb 1963. Photo: EDP Library

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
1:05 PM

As part of a new daily online series we look back on what was making the news on this day in Norfolk. Today, we look at the Eastern Evening News front page of February 4, 1963.

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With some 8,000 water service pipes still frozen in the Norwich area, it would take about 400 days to free them all, using one of the Pointer Group’s new thawing devices.

Calculating this today, the City Water Engineer, Mr S N Kelly, repeated his view that these machines were an impracticable solution to the problem. At the moment, his department is using three such devices - two of Messrs Pointers’ and one bought by the City Engineer. Another was being delivered tonight.

The Water Department worked a 12-hour day thawing out pipes yesterday. Pointers’ two machines freed 44 of them and the corporation’s five.

“It is impracticable unless we have 60 of them. Then we could do the job in about a week,” Mr Kelly said. “But it would take about 120 men, 60 of whom would have to be versed in electrical matters. It would also involve 60 vans.”

Fifty Volts

“Messrs Pointers device,” he added, “used as much as 50 volts to free a pipe. They took an average of about half an hour to free each pipe which meant that only 20 could be freed in a long working day.”

The Corporation thawing device operates at five volts. It was tried out on eight service pipes yesterday and it freed five of them.

“There is also the very strong possibility that pipes thawed out by this method will re-freeze.” he said, “Therefore, while we are going to carry on using these devices in the form of an experiment, I still think it is of very little practical value. Even with four of them, I don’t expect to make much impact on 8,000 frozen pipes.

Near Gas

After an experiment in Old Palace Road, it was decided this afternoon that it may not, after all, be dangerous to thaw frozen pipes by electricity when there is a gas pipe nearby.

At No. 104 - the home of Mrs May Thrower, a 74-year-old widow living alone - Messrs Pointers used between 30 and 50 volts in a fruitless 20 minute attempt to get the water flowing again.

At the same time, readings were taken between the water and gas pipes, which were about two feet apart in the ground, and five feet apart in the house. “Leakage” of electricity to the gas pipe varied from 4 and a half to five volts.

“We consider this to be a safe reading.” said a Pointer’s spokesman. Had the device freed Mrs Thrower’s pipes, it would have been regarded as something of a bonus for the work, the main object of which was to measure the electricity leakage.

The Corporation’s smaller machine spent some time trying to thaw her pipes yesterday with no success. Mrs Thrower, who said she had never before frozen up in the 52 years she had lived there, was one of the many people hit in the Old Palace Road area. It is now three weeks since she had running water.


  • Oh yes Nigel 63 we were skating after school all through February and at half term when the roads were clear. We skated on Tottenhill Pit, Well Creek, Welney, Tongue End near Spalding, on clay pits near Downham, Bury Fen ( I think-although that may have been a few years later) and any drain we could walk to after school. The down side was having to open up wells to water cattle when the pipes froze up, the foxes frozen in the ice and the swans too on Welney, and the snipe and other small birds just falling out of the air frozen. I can remember at least one other year in the sixties when we saw chunks of ice floating down the river from classroom windows.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Anything else happen in 1963 ?

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    gerry mitson

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • So my grandparents were right all along: It really was colder in "the good old days"?

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    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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