AT some point during 2020, we’ve all heard someone say “at least it’s not the war” – or something to that effect.

But just two years after the end of the Second World War, the Hexham Courant reported that 1947 was “one of the blackest years in living memory.”

It came after the district was battered by one of the worst winters seen in the 20th century, with local farmers telling of the terrible toll the freezing winter brought to their lands.

It was feared that, unless there was a different story to tell in other districts or food-producing nations rallying to Britain’s aid, the country’s food cupboard would be even barer by the following year.

Hundreds of acres of spring wheat were never planted, and it looked as though the granaries would be empty by autumn, while large numbers of lambing ewes were struggling in the bitter spell that continued into March.

Farmers also feared that the animals would succumb to disease later in the season, to the point it was feared the district’s flock could be halved.

The cold was accompanied by snow – villages were cut off by drifts 15 feet high. In the second week of February, only the A69 remained open.

Blanchland and Allenheads were both completely cut off – although Blanchland residents managed to keep the path to the pub clear!

The men of Allendale battled four and a half miles from Sinderhope through waist-deep – and at times shoulder deep – snow drifts to take 1,500 pounds of food to Allenheads.