The winter of 1962 and 1963 became a weather legend, being the coldest since 1740.

After a mainly cold December, January and February 1963 both had an average temperature below freezing point. This is a very rare occurrence that has happened only four times in the past 350 years.

February was marked by more snow arriving. By the end of the month the weather over the country had reverted to 'normal', cold but clear and sunny days with severe night frosts and freezing fog.

These are just some of the many pictures from our archives originally shared with us by Bryan Sefton-Smith. During that winter he was assistant divisional surveyor at the Bridport Depot of the then roads and bridges department in South Street.

A Dorset Daily Echo report on Monday, December 31, 1962, tells how worried dairy farmers in outlying parts of west Dorset faced the prospect of pouring hundreds of gallons of milk down the drains because their milk lorries could not get through.

Meanwhile in the villages, milkmen who had not received supplies rationed residents fearing a 'milk famine'.

On the same day, the paper reported how tragedy had struck on the snowbound Osmington Hill the previous Saturday night. A car was found entirely buried by snow and a middle-aged couple dead when rescuers came across the vehicle. Arthur and Daisy Barber were survived by their daughter, Sheila Reid, who was also in the car, as was her seven-year-old son Ian and Thomas Curtis of Dorchester.

The cause of the tragedy was thought to be either suffocation or carbon monoxide poisoning, which would have complicated conditions caused by the extreme cold.

Arthur Coles, proprietor of the nearby White Horse Garage and a member of the rescue party, said at the time: "It is difficult to imagine why they were unable to get out of the car and walk the 200 yards to my garage."

Certainly other drivers abandoned their vehicles in the blizzard.

Another tragedy was averted on the Sunday, when the Army, the Navy, Dorset Police and Dorset Civil Defence rescued 70 people from the tiny Clay Pigeon Café, on the Dorchester-Yeovil road near Wardon Hill. The 'siege by snow' started on the Saturday night when 70 passengers of two Bournemouth-bound coaches floundered through snowdrifts and a driving blizzard to seek shelter in the café. Among those airlifted out by the three naval helicopters were the elderly, the infirm and a five-week-old baby.

By New Year's Day 1963 in Weymouth, fresh food supplies were dwindling; fruit and veg merchants had their lorries on standby for a dash out of the town the moment the road to Dorchester was open. In Portesham, bread was delivered on a tractor and a sledge and on Saturday, January 5, Portland naval helicopters dropped in food stocks to both Portesham and Abbotsbury.

Indeed, the 'big shiver' showed no signs of a let-up and Echo readers were warned 'Dorset roads worse than ever' in a report detailing thick black ice. Throughout January, in the intervals when snow was not falling, the county simply appeared to freeze solid. Ice-covered Radipole Lake became a popular sports arena, despite warnings of the dubious safety of skating.

Indeed, one headline screeches, 'YES! - even the harbour' with an accompanying photograph of the water between the Town and Westham Bridges as a solid sheet of ice, broken only by boats and buoys. Another image shows the tide frozen on the shore.

A thaw then set in; the morning of March 6, 1963 was the first in the year that the entire country was frost-free, and the temperature soared to 17°C in London.

As temperatures recovered, monster snowmen and snowballs melted and their remnants were soon all that was left of what was probably the coldest winter since 1795.