Local Life In The 20th Century
Forces of Nature
Chronological extracts from Ledbury TILLEY's Almanacks - Photographs & Memories

The prolonged drought in the spring and early summer, which was so disastrous to the hay harvest, and the almost complete failure of the hop crop. were serious drawbacks indeed.

May The Ledbury Water Supply began to show signs of failing, the supply was subsequently reduced to 15 minutes morning and evening.

July The Ledbury Water Supply was limited to four hours daily, and subsequently was reduced to half-hour morning and evening.

December 8 The Water Supply was turned on full from this day.


January 16 Heavy snow-storms and severe frosts were prevalent.

May 18 During the week a water famine in Ledbury was threatened, consequent upon a serious loss of water which was thought to be caused by a leakage in the mains.

June 15 About the middle of the month the Water Supply from the Reservoir had been very irregular, and a supply from 6 till 8. morning and evening, was allowed.


August 21 On the night of the 21st there was a terrific thunderstorm.

August 28 The Ledbury water supply was limited to one hour, morning and evening.

November and Part of December Missing

December 21 At this date the water supply was "on" for the greater part of the day, a boon much appreciated by the consumers, who had for months only had a supply for an hour or so.


June 11 A Severe Thunderstorm passed over Ledbury and District.

June 28 A Whirlwind passed over Ledbury at a high altitude, carrying with it a large quantity of hay, some of which dropped in the streets.

August 3 Severe Thunderstorm.

August 6 A wet and miserable Band Holiday.


February 4 The Ledbury Board Schools closed for three weeks in consequence of the epidemic of whooping cough and mumps.


November 19 The School Board resolved to close the schools for a fortnight on account of the outbreak of measles.


February 26 Destructive Gale.

April 13 Easter Monday; Heavy snowstorm in the morning.

This was the coldest April for 35 years.

May 3 Extensive floods in the district.

May 30 More floods.

June 21 Hail and snow fell in the district.

June 24 Midsummer Day; bitterly cold weather.

June 30 More torrential rains and floods.

This was the wettest July for 35 years.

September 2 Severe thunderstorm.

September 10 Terrific Gale; hopyards devastated.

October 18 (Sunday) At this date many acres of corn in the district, and some hay, were still in the fields on account of the continuous wet weather.

November 14 At this date hundreds of acres of land in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire, were still covered with corn waiting to be hauled, but on account of the continued wet weather most of it was only fit for the foldyard. Miles of land were covered with water.

December 25 Christmas Day; very mild weather.


February 13 During this week incessant rains caused extensive floods in the district.

March 31 Severe winterly Weather.

November 21 During the week there were snowstorms and severe frosts.


January 16 Severe winterly weather. Skating in the district.

January 26 During the week a Soup Kitchen was held at Ledbury to relieve the distress amongst the poor on account of the severe weather.

March 1 After a spell of fine weather a heavy thunderstorm broke over Ledbury and district.


The Rainfall for January was 1.36 inches. Average for January, 2.11 inches.

The Rainfall for February was 1.16 inches. Average for February, 1.84 inches.

The Rainfall for March was 0.39 inches. Average for March, 1.60 inches.

The Rainfall for April was 2.53 inches. Average for April, 1.85 inches.

The Rainfall for May was 2.71. Average for May 2.05 inches.

The Rainfall for June was 1.74 inches. Average for June, 2.25 inches.

July 21 Ledbury Visited by a cyclone.

The Rainfall for July was 1.96 inches. Average for July, 2.43 inches.

The Rainfall for August was 2.24 in. Average for August, 2.26 in.

September 27 Shock of Earthquake in the Ledbury District.

The Rainfall for September was 0.70 in. Average for September 2.24 in.

The Rainfall for October was 7.08 in. Average for October, 2.93 in.


Rainfall for January at Ledbury (as registered at Underdown by Mr. Spencer H. BICKHAM throughout the year) was 0.96 inches. Average for January 2.16 Weather seasonable with occasional snow.

February - The weather during the month was at times very warm and spring-like, and closed with frost and snow. There was a great scarcity of rain, and street watering had to be resorted to. Rainfall, 0.50. Average for February, 1.84.

March - There were heavy snowstorms and severe frosts till the middle of the month, after which the weather continued very cold. Much sickness of the influenza type prevailed. Rainfall, 3.08. Average, 1.06.

April - The month opened with spring-like weather, which gradually became colder, and the month closed with a snowfall. Rainfall. 1.90. Average for April, 1.85.

May - Opened with a snowstorm, after which the weather was fine and seasonable, with a scarcity of rain till the 24th, when 0.40 inches fell in 24 hours. Total rainfall for the month, 0.42 inches. Average for May, 2.05.

June - The weather throughout the month was cold, with but little sunshine, and rain towards the end. All crops consequently three weeks later than usual. Rainfall for June. 1.91 inches. Average, 2.25.

The weather during July was very similar to that in June, wet, cold, and unseasonable, with heavy rains at end of month. Rainfall for July. 1.71. Average, 2.43.

August - The first portion of the month was hot and summer-like, after which dull and unsettled weather followed. Rainfall for August, 2.05. Average 2.26.

The weather throughout September was fine, the month closing with heavy rains and floods. Rainfall for September, 3.30 inches. Average, 2.24.

October - Heavy rains continued at intervals during the month, and at the end there were unusually heavy floods in several parts of the country. Rainfall for October. 3.51. Average, 2.93.

November - A fine seasonable month, with very little rain, and frost and snow in the early part. Rainfall for November, 0.92 in. Average, 2.69.

December - Weather very mild, until frost and snow on 20th. Rainfall for December, 3.50. Average, 2.42. Rainfall for the year, 24.26. Average, 26.67. The weather throughout the year was very unseasonable, with but little summer.


The year opened with mild weather, until frost and snow on 11th, when it again became mild, the month closing with frost. Great floods in Paris during the month.

Rainfall for January at Ledbury (as registered at Underdown, by Mr. Spencer H BICKHAM throughout the year) was 2.56 inches.

February - The weather throughout the month was mild, with much rain, and very severe gales at times. Rainfall. 3.21in.

March opened mild and spring-like, followed by cold rains and then very heavy snowstorms. Mild weather followed, the month terminating with a fine Easter. Rainfall, .72 in.

April - Weather seasonable throughout the month. Rainfall 2.02 inches.

May 16 Whit-Monday, Bank Holiday. Severe local thunderstorm in afternoon, several cattle killed. Fine elsewhere.

May - Cold and showery at beginning of month, followed with dry, warm, and seasonable Weather. Rainfall, 1.72 in.

June commenced cold, followed with heavy rains and thunderstorms till the middle of the month, when the weather was very hot and summerlike, but the close of the month was very cold and wet Rainfall 3.13.

July - Weather continued dull, damp and cold throughout the month, with less than one half of the average sunshine and very little rain. Rainfall 1.83, average 2.43.

During August the weather continued remarkably cold and damp, with but little sunshine and heavy rains at times. Rainfall during the month 6.12, with 1.56 on 28th, when there was a continuous downpour.

The Weather during September was a great contrast to that of the previous months. It was quite summer like throughout, with very little rain, and all outstanding crops, although late, were safely gathered. The hop crop was good, the prices realized were also good. Rainfall .51 inches.

October - Weather during the month fine and seasonable, heavy downpour of rain on Friday. Very mild at end of month. Rainfall 3.49.

November - The month throughout was damp and cold, and heavy continuous rain at the end. Rainfall, 4.25.

The heavy rains at the end of November continued almost incessantly till after the middle of December causing immense floods and great damage throughout the country. This, coupled with the fact that the General Election was going on, was a great hindrance to the usual December trade. Mild weather throughout the month. Rainfall, 5.90.


January - The year opened mild, with occasional short frosts, heavy fogs following later on, the month closing very mild and with but little rain. Rainfall for January at Ledbury (as registered at Underdown, by Mr. Spencer H. BICKHAM throughout the year) was .72 inches on 12 days.

February - The weather this month continued mild, with but little rain. Rainfall, 1.41 inches on 13 days.

March - Beginning of month, weather was fine and mild, but was followed by occasional snow. On the whole, rather boisterous. Rainfall, 1.88 on 19 days.

April commenced cold and wet, with blizzards and snow until towards Easter, when it became more seasonable. The month closed with welcome April showers. Rainfall, .99 inches on 18 days.

May opened cold with very heavy rains, followed by warmer weather till after the middle of the mouth, when it again became cold for short time, and this was followed by summerlike weather. Early fruits and hops attacked by blight. Rainfall, .80 inches on 6 days.

June - Weather continued fine and summerlike, sometimes very hot, till 28th, when heavy rains fell after an absence of seven weeks. Good crops of hay, early fruit, and peas. Rainfall, 1.21 inches on 11 days.

July - Weather continued hot and dry throughout the month. At times the heat was most excessive, and scarcely any rain fell. The corn harvest was consequently early, but the roots and fruit suffered considerably from the continued drought. Rainfall, .21 on 4 days.

August - The great heat and drought continued, with but a short interval of rain early in the month. Rainfall, 1.11 on 9 days

September - The great drought, the equal to which had not been experienced for a great number of years, terminated on September 13th, with a heavy downpour of rain throughout the country. Since June 28th (77 days) there was a slight fall of rain only on 14 days. For 26 days following June 28th, not a drop was recorded, then came slight rain on five consecutive days. From August 2nd to 18th there was a continued drought. The potato and root crops suffered severely. Rainfall, 1.32 on 10 days.

October commenced with a continuation of the remarkably fine weather of the already long summer, with slight occasional rainfalls towards the end, when autumn arrived in earnest. Rainfall, 2.21 on 17 days.

With the exception of heavy gales causing much damage about the middle of the month, November proved to be a very fine autumn month. Rainfall, 2.86 on 21 days.

December was very mild, but full of rain, which made up for the great drought of the year. The low lands were much flooded at the end of the month.


Floods - August 27 Gas Works Lane.

[1912 Floods]
Mandy PALMER and Chris PONTER Collection

( 2013 June )
Raymond Mills - Spent many hours fishing for trout on the Leadon as a teenager Chris. I did not realise in the days prior to the 60s, the fish came to our older rellies instead!....lol.

Jo Edge - Is the house still there?

Chris Ponter - Demolished, it stood roughly where the Severn Trent gates are now on the right opposite the bungalows

Jo Edge - The 1916 Almanack shows GAS HOUSE ROAD only 2 names C INGRAM and L PLAYER

Chris Ponter - Maybe this house ??

Veronica Baker - We remember jim baker having his photo taken on his bike by ledbury reporter going through floods at lower road came back home soaked but no one in family can find a photo you would have lived in terrace at time.

Ann Brookes - I remember playing in the floods down the bottom of the lane with my brother and sisters, coming home wet and being sent to bed with no tea!

Hilary Roberts - I didn't know his real name was Jim , but I can imagine zimbuck pedalling through the floods! I wonder if the photo is in the archives somewhere - I hope it is

Ismet Mustafic - Great photo Chris. I'm guessing this would be 1910-1920??

Snow - The Homend

[1912 Snow]
Frank KENWARD Collection

Rainfall for January at Ledbury (as registered at Underdown by Mr. Spencer H. BICKHAM throughout the year) was 3.00 inches.

February Mild weather continued throughout the month. Rainfall, 3.45 inches.

The weather throughout March continued mild with sharp frosts at night. Rainfall, '78 inches.

April Rainfall, '90 inches.

The first two weeks in May the weather was very hot and summer like. but towards the middle of the month the rainfall was incessant, but cleared up just before Whitsuntide. Rainfall, 3'91 inches.

Perfect summer weather prevailed throughout the whole of June, but at the end of the month it became unsettled, and a great deal of hay which had not been carried was spoilt. Rainfall, 1'22 inches.

July 4 Cyclone and terrific thunderstorm in Ledbury and District, when damage estimated at £20,000 was done to the crops, and many hopyards were entirely ruined.

The weather for the first part of July was wet and cold. In fact, July can be put down as one of the wettest summer months on record. Since the heavy storm on the 4th it rained daily, thus preventing the recovery of crops. Hay crops suffered very severely. Rainfall, 6'34 inches.

August Rainfall, 2.85 inches.

September Rainfall, .81 inches.

October Rainfall, 4.88 inches.

November Fine weather continued throughout the month. Rainfall, 1’66 inches.

December 27 A great gale raged throughout the country, the most severe for the past 25 years, considerable damage being reported from all parts.

Weather during December was the worst experienced for some years, constant rain throughout the whole month. Rainfall 4'46 inches.


In briefly reviewing the past year, it may be remarked that after one of the most severe winters experienced for a number of years, conditions showed a tendency to improve towards Easter, and ideal summer weather prevailed until well into the autumn with but very slight breaks. The scarcity of rain through the summer months was, at times, somewhat of a problem for the agriculturist.

November 16 Numerous mishaps occurred and some little damage was done in the district as a result of a gale.


The year 1929 was characterised by Arctic weather in the early months, when abnormal degrees of frost were registered for several weeks; during spring and summer, the longest drought for something like a century; and the wettest November recorded for half-a-century.

February 16 Wintry conditions of a most severe character were experienced during the week, and large crowds of skating enthusiasts thronged the ice on the local pools during the weekend.

October 5 A terrific rainstorm was experienced in Ledbury, over two inches of rain being recorded for the 24 hours.

November 25 A landslide occurred near Westhill on the Coddington road, large quantities of earth being strewn across the road.

November 25 Owing to heavy rainfall, several roads into Ledbury were flooded and impassable, at one point the Ledbury-Gloucester road was flooded to a depth of five feet.

November 30 The rainfall measured at Underdown for the month of November was 8.50 inches, an amount only exceeded once in 50 years in Ledbury. The average for November is 2.44 inches; the fall therefore was three and a half times the average.

December 4 Ledbury experienced a series of gales throughout the week, several of the storms being accompanied by thunder and lightning, a rare occurrence for December. The side of a house was blown down at Greenway, near Ledbury, the inmates narrowly escaping personal injuries.

December 12 During a heavy storm Preston Church, near Ledbury, was struck by lightning and the tiles on one side of the roof stripped off.

December was ushered in by a series of storms and gales – spoken of as the worst in living memory - when everywhere there were signs of the month’s record of storm damage; ships wrecked, ocean liners driven out of their course, cables damaged at sea; and on land, buildings blown down, roads blocked by fallen trees, telegraphic and telephonic lines put out of action, vast areas devastated and towns and villages isolated by floods. These incidents paint a picture which, happily, we rarely see.


June 18 A violent thunderstorm broke over Ledbury during the afternoon. Little damage was done locally, but throughout the Midlands the storm left a trail of destruction and floods and several fatalities occurred.

December 25 The great festive day - Christmas. Rain commenced to fall early in the morning and developed into a steady drizzle for the remainder of the day.


June 7 In common with other parts of the country, two distinct earthquake tremors were felt in Ledbury, but no damage was recorded in the district.

The memory of 1931 will long remain green among agriculturists for it was one of the most difficult and worrying seasons experienced by even the oldest farmer. Widespread havoc was caused to crops in the district by the continuous rains during the summer, which was the wettest and coldest for over a century.

1947 - Heavy Snow

Little Marcle Lane.

[1947 Heavy Snow]
Chris PONTER Collection
[1947 Heavy Snow]
Roger BAKER Collection
[1947 Heavy Snow]
Joan PHILLIPS ( Bennett ) Collection
[1947 Heavy Snow]
Joan PHILLIPS ( Bennett ) Collection
[1947 Heavy Snow]
Joan PHILLIPS ( Bennett ) Collection

The Homend

[1947 Heavy Snow]
Roger BAKER Collection

[1947 Heavy Snow]
[1947 Heavy Snow]
[1947 Heavy Snow]
[1947 Heavy Snow]
[1947 Heavy Snow]
Roger BAKER Collection
[1947 Heavy Snow]
Frank KENWARD Collection
[1947 Heavy Snow]
George HOPKINS Collection

High Street

[1947 Heavy Snow]
Frank KENWARD Collection
[1947 Heavy Snow]
Roger BAKER Collection

Church Street

[1947 Heavy Snow]
Roger BAKER Collection

Unknown Location

[1947 Heavy Snow]
Jennie JONES Collection

1897 - 1979 Ledbury Tilleys Almanacks - Herefordshire History
Photographs are credited to the owners where possible
Edited Memories in italics are from members of the Old Ledbury Facebook Group
Cuttings are from Old Ledbury Reporter Newspapers
History of Ledbury in the 19th Century
Herefordshire Archive Records Centre HARC

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