Photos capture the day Arctic snow storm brought Cornwall to a standstill

Hundreds of motorists had to be rescued when the A30 and A38 were gridlocked by extreme winter conditions in 2005

Heavy snow is a pretty rare visitor to Cornwall, but 16 years ago a blast of Arctic weather swept across the South West on a Friday afternoon, bringing chaos to the county.

Six inches of snow fell in just a few hours on November 25, 2005. Offices, factories, schools and shops across Cornwall closed early as people desperately tried to find a way to get home in the blizzard.

Our archive photos look back at that day and the chaos and community spirit that the snow brought with it.

Many roads were impassable. Bodmin Moor was one of the worst affected areas, with more than 1,000 people trapped in their vehicles on the A30 following several accidents, and the A38 was gridlocked. Snowdrifts, jack-knifed lorries and abandoned cars all took their toll, and rail services were delayed.

A massive rescue operation swung into action, with emergency services and council workers joined by hundreds of volunteers to bring people who couldn’t get home to places of warmth and safety. Four by fours were out in force, some people were rescued by farm tractors, sitting on hay bales on the back of trailers, and others were picked up by helicopter. Locals came out to help and offer food, hot drinks, sleeping bags and blankets, and even a bed for the night.

Up to 2,000 children in the north and east of the county had to stay at school with their teachers because their parents couldn’t get through the snow to collect them, and around 30 students and 20 members of staff were stranded at Cornwall College at St Austell.

Leisure centres and civic building across North Cornwall, the worst affected area, became emergency shelters, with more than 400 people staying overnight in Bodmin and Camelford.

The council provided gym mats for sleeping and bedding came from a variety of sources including the Territorial Army and local hospitals. RAF St Mawgan flew in supplies where needed and The Salvation Army was among the many organisations providing drinks and sandwiches.

One man who left to drive from Liskeard to Bodmin on the A38 at 7pm eventually arrived home, just 13 miles away, at 1.30am the next morning.

Do you remember that day when the Arctic came to Cornwall? Or do you have memories of other snowy times in the county? Do let us know in the comments below.

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