Big freeze that decimated the wedding guest list

Dorothy Trethowan ... havoc on her big day in 1940
Dorothy Trethowan ... havoc on her big day in 1940

Memories came flooding back for 99-year-old Dorothy Trethowan when the temperature plummeted in last week’s cold snap.

She can recall a day when it was even colder – January 28, 1940.

And she should know. It was her wedding day.

The big freeze struck suddenly, said Dorothy, and caused havoc to her marriage at Seaford Congregational Church.

“People were crawling around on their hands and knees because the pavements were so slippery,” she said.

“There were no gritters in those days and cars had chains on their wheels to help get a grip. Everything came to standstill.

“I remember the milkman pushing his crate along the ground.

“He didn’t dare stand up with it because he would have toppled over and smashed all the bottles.

“My father rushed out in the street to give him a hand.”

But Dorothy, who was then living in Highlands Road, Seaford, was still able to tie the knot with Alan Bowrah, a baker in the town.

The best man and two of her bridesmaids attempted to make the journey from Guestling but only got as far as Hastings, where they were marooned.

One hundred guests had been invited to the ceremony but only 25 were able to make it.

Dorothy, now living in St John’s Road, Polegate, said the reception was due to be held at a local cafe. Though he was booked to cater for the 100 guests, the proprietor only charged for those who actually turned up.

Alan and Dorothy went on to have two children. She subsequently remarried after his death and has a clutch of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It was in 1940 that the River Thames froze for the first time in 60 years.