WEST Dorset has been preparing for snow this week after a weather warning was issued by the Met Office.

We take a look back at one of the worst winters in living memory, with the county covered in a blanket of snow - the winter of 1963.

The News reported drifts of up to 15ft deep and many rural communities were cut off, with food supplies having to be dropped by helicopter.

In Chideock, milk was rationed by milkman Les Fussell, but more than 200 tractors and trailers delivered supplies to Beaminster Milk Factory - with some getting through by bypassing the roads to drive over fields. Residents had to walk through seven-foot snowdrifts to get milk but some farms reported having to store their milk in the bath as the churns were full but there was no one able to collect it.

During a blizzard, pupils at Lyme Regis Grammar School helped replenish supplies of fruit and vegetables after the headmaster told them to bring their sledges to school.

He joined the boys in a ‘fetch it yourself’ campaign where they spent most of their morning hauling five tons of fuel from the railway station to the school, as well as delivering vegetables to the boarding house.

The deputy coroner had to go by sea in a cabin cruiser to Lyme Regis to conduct an inquest and Beaminster’s weather man Albert Dawe, who predicted the big freeze six months earlier, was featured on television.

Around 20ft of snow was reportedly cleared from the road between Bridport and Dorchester per hour, by using bulldozers and excavators, but Askers Roadhouse was cut off for two weeks.

The bill for getting the county roads passable was estimated to be around £150,000 to clear 1,000 miles using more than 60 snow ploughs and 160 diggers.

There was heavy criticism of how the crisis was handled and allegations that motorists paid no attention to road blocked signs.

A bus was stranded in Morcombelake and had to be extracted with a snow plough using a milk lorry as an anchor.