AFTER Storm Arwen brought atrocious weather to much of the country the team at Washburn Heritage Centre carried out some research on winters past.

Christine Pearce, from the Theme and Programme Planning Team, wrote a report outlining some of their findings.

She said: "We wondered how this recent weather compares to the wintery scenes we have in our collective memory where we think that deep snow laid on the ground in white blankets for days on end.

"To find an answer to the question the perfect place to start the search was the Washburn Heritage Centre’s extensive digital photographic archive. Searching the archive for scenes of snow very quickly revealed that there is indeed a variety from which to choose. We are very fortunate that the archive holds many images of the Washburn Valley and surrounding areas throughout the seasons. These are the seasonal ones we have selected to share this time.

"As Christmas draws ever closer, we are thinking of cards to be written and maybe starting to plan our own journeys to be made. These photographs show Christmas cards and a variety of wintery scenes.

"The archive reveals two Christmas greeting cards which are quite unlike the cards we are familiar with giving and receiving in the 21st century. The Christmas greeting from 1909 was a postcard with a seasonal song. It bears a halfpenny (pre-decimal) stamp and was franked two days before Christmas. It was sent between two houses which are about one mile apart. The second card dates from around 1900.

"The picture of the road crossing the dam of Lindley Wood Reservoir will be familiar to the drivers of the 21st century though the gradients may have proved more challenging to early motorists. A group of motorists are pictured digging through deep snow at Farnley in 1947 and the more observant of you may spot that the front vehicle has a snow ploughing device fixed to it.

"A further snowy scene of 1947 shows cattle and sheep heading purposefully to Clifford Grange who is holding a bundle of hay. It may be that he is struggling in a strong wind as his coat appears to be blowing in front of him, that feeling will be familiar to many of us from the recent storm.

"One of the two motorists is Clifford Baxter, let’s hope the car is not stuck in the snow. The group of children are playing in the snow in front of Stainburn school in 1947.

"For those of you who may not be familiar with the Washburn Valley, it lies between Otley and Harrogate and is in North Yorkshire. The Washburn falls into the river Wharfe near Leathley after rising high in the Yorkshire Dales near Stump Cross Cavern.

"The value of the Washburn Valley was recognised as long ago as the 19th century when the city fathers of Leeds were in need of a water supply for the growing, industrialised city. Its proximity to Leeds made it an ideal source of clean drinking water. This led to the creation of a chain of reservoirs in the valley. The earliest, Lindley Wood, was constructed between 1869 and 1876. This was followed by the creation of both Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs in the next few years before the end of the 19th century. It was not until the 1960s that the final reservoir in the Valley was constructed and Thruscross completed the transformation of the Washburn Valley to the area we know and enjoy today."

Copyright of all images belong to the Washburn Heritage Centre. Visit for more information about the centre.