Although snow, hail and frost were regular features of this month
well into the 20th century, January’s weather could still be very
variable. Formalised weather records indicate generally lower
temperatures and, as a result snow lay on the ground for much
longer. There are some dramatic accounts of heavy and very deep
snow, particularly in 1940 and 1947. However, sunshine and fine,
dry weather is also recorded. In 1738 the month was unusually warm.
Fog too was not uncommon in this month. In 1888 for example, there
were four consecutive days of dense fog.
The extracts are arranged chronologically by the day to show the
progression of weather through the month.
From the Diaries of Lord Hatherton, Teddesley
Park, near Penkridge
2 January 1862 - A beautiful winter’s day- sunny, clear and a mild
North East wind. I walked about with my Grandson and Bailiffs
4 January 1862 - The day magnificent for this month and country
[county]. Sun and a clear atmosphere and only a slight frost.
Though suffering from a cold, I could not help mounting my horse and
cantering on the hills.
7 January- A fine sharp morning. post called with papers. I was at
home all day. Nancy Went Home foe her Holides [holidays] thair was
some Very heavy Thunder and acompined by some Very Vivid Flashes of
Lightning a heavy Hail storm with Rain
From the Farming and Household Diary of John
Plant of Hazlewood House Farm, Leekfrith
Often information about the weather is recorded quite incidentally
in records as shown in this extract. This diary uses some North
Staffordshire dialect words, phonetic spelling and virtually no
9 January 1852- T Brough at the Smithy with Gilbert, very stormy &
cold with snow. George & John Belfield came in the afternoone and
broh[t] there ferrit to Ketch some Rablets, thay ketched 3 and
turned it into a burrough in the Ditch between the Calf Figgs, thay
wated 2 hours and Diged varies ways but cold not Finde it thay were
verrry much alarmed with a sudden Ghlosh [ probably dialect word
meaning flash] of Lightening and Loud Clap of thunder thay went and
Left it and George went in 1 Houre at after and took the Lanther
[lantern] with him and with a Little diging he found the Ferrit
asleep on the Ralbet which he had Kild.
It was not unusual in the late Victorian and Edwardian period for a
Christmas treat or tea party for school children to be held in
A good many children were kept away by illness or by the severe
weather from the Entertainment on January 15th  but there were
about seventy present for tea. After tea they warmed themselves by a
good romp till about 5 o’clock when the curtain at the end of the
room suddenly fell down and disclosed the Christmas tree lighted and
decked. There followed the prize-giving and afterwards each child in
order chose something from the tree. This lasted until the candles
were nearly all burnt out and then a happy and merry evening was
brought to a close by the singing of the children’s evening hymn.
An entertainment organised by the schoolmaster for the purpose of
raising a fund for school prizes was held in the school on the
evening of Jan 28th  at 7 0’clock. Luckily the night, although
bitterly cold, was bright and the attendance was quite as good as
could be expected.
From the Log Book for Swythamley Church of
16 January 1936- Continuous snowstorms- only 7 children present.
School routine not strictly followed. Afternoon session curtailed to
allow the children to reach home before dark. It is still snowing &
travelling is very difficult.
20 January 1936 - The snow having drifted caused many roads to be
blocked. Only 7 children present (43%). Time table suspended.
21 January 1936 - Owing to a terrible blizzard there were no
children present. School closed.
22 Jan- There were no children present. School closed.
23 January 1936 - One child arrived at school this morning but I
sent him home, his feet were wet. School closed at 9-30am
It is not known where Le Hee was situated but for it to be recorded
in the chronicle suggests in the county if not near to the Abbey.
On the day of the Sts [Saints] Fabian and Sebastian [20 January], a
violent wind from the south blew down the wall near Le Hee for a
length of sixty feet and uprooted forty great apple trees and a very
large pear tree in an adjoining garden and growing stronger, broke
[them]into pieces. Such a wind prevailed though not so violently for
a month or more.
Reference: William Salt Library The Abbey of St Mary, Croxden,
Charles Lynam, including extracts from The Croxden Chronicle
From the Weekly Reports of the State of the Reservoir
Rudyard Lake was built in 1797 as a reservoir to support the growing
canal network in North Staffordshire. As well as the state of the
reservoir itself, this record gives information about the weather.
20 January 1911
Under level 6am- full
Under level 6pm – full
Paddles open day – ¾
No of paddles open- 1
Paddles open night- ¾
No of paddles open -1
Thermometer highest 35
Thermometer lowest 30
Weather – foggy
From the Diaries of Lord Hatherton of Teddesley
Park, near Penkridge
23 January 1859- Our weather continues the most extraordinary ever
known. Moist and for the most part mild. There has not been a
particle of rain on the ground since the frost in the middle of
November, even at 4 o’ clock in the morning. My Gardener saw some
snowdrops a fortnight ago.
26 January 1909- A Grand Sharp Frosty Morning Frose all day in the
shade. Post called with papers. Will and myself carting Manure. We
churned. Mr John Wooliscroft still on the Boose [booze] Charles
Birch came for Butter churning
Extract from the Diary of Mrs Elizabeth Hagar Whitehouse
27 January- Whist Drive and Dance in aid of Red Cross. Mrs Carver
and Wollaston got it up. Arthur and his wife came over for it. It
was a fearfully foggy night. Gerty came down but went away at 10 o
clock. We stayed till 12.
Extracts from the log book for Draycott in the Moors Junior School.
This school had only just opened in September 1939 and was
immediately required to take in a number of evacuees from Manchester
at the outbreak of the Second World War. The severe weather, which
came in January and February 1940, must have made the transition
even more difficult for these city children.
29 January 1940 - Since Friday afternoon there have been unusually
heavy falls of snow so that traffic is virtually held up, and it was
impossible to get into school until a road had been cut through. The
very few children who attempted to come were sent home and
instructed to attend tomorrow if possible.
30 January 1940 - Conditions are no better, except that a way has
been cut into school. The snow in the school grounds is as much as
seven feet deep in places, while in the surrounding district, drifts
are reported as high as eighteen feet. Communication with many farms
is impossible, and it is not surprising that only 4 Staffordshire
children are present. The school however is being kept open, if only
on account of the Manchester children who have been able to get in.
This month the Weather was as warm as it often is in Aprill. We had
several Storms of wind in these 2 last Months which did a great deal
of Damage in many Places, but not as much Rain for the Waters were
but once out of their Bounds in this Time. Inflammatory fevers began
to appear in Several Places especially round about Ridgeley [Rugeley]
where several died.