Four killed as blizzards sweep the North

Major roads reopened in Yorkshire last night, 24 hours after blizzards in which four men died and thousands of travellers were stranded.

West Yorkshire police said three of the four victims appeared to have abandoned their cars, two dying in the suburbs of Leeds, another in Halifax. The fourth man died at Boothtown, near Halifax, while pushing a car.

The heavy snow, which fell on a band of central northern England from the Mersey to the Humber, condemned many to accommodation ranging from the spartan to the exotic.

The M62 became impassable on Wednesday night, severing the last trans-Pennine route four hours after the blizzards began. Many motorists west of the road's summit spent the night at Birch service station, near Rochdale. But hundreds had to sleep in theirvehicles, sustained by visits from police cars bearing gallons of soup. More than 3,000 vehicles were still stranded on the motorway yesterday morning. Police said last night that the motorway was open, but still difficult to negotiate.

The Snake and Woodhead passes had been closed by dusk on Wednesday in conditions described by South Yorkshire and Derbyshire police as atrocious. Temperatures on the Pennines fell below zero last night, turning roads to ice as police from Barnsley were still helping drivers to recover vehicles.

"About a dozen lorry drivers stayed with their vehicles, which meant we could help them. Those that were abandoned meant the snow ploughs and gritters could not do their work," a police spokesman said.

In Bradford, the Anglican cathedral gave refuge to despairing travellers. In Leeds, the audience at West Yorkshire Playhouse emerged from the world premiere of a play called The Winter Guest to find themselves cut off. Playhouse staff decided the show must go on.

"Luvvies for Blizzard Relief" found camp beds for 300 and entertained them with a medley of musical hits until 3am. "The stars were marvellous," a Playhouse spokesman said. "They helped wherever they could, and kept everyone's spirits up."

Authors could have drawn inspiration from the diverse real- life cast assembled at the Wagon and Horses pub above Sheffield, where more than 100 stranded travellers spent the night.

"We had lorry drivers, school children who had come out for a walk, a party of physiotherapists from Manchester, and even one German," Rachel Batty, the landlady, said. "It was like New Year's Eve."

At Pendle, Lancashire, 22 children and three adults who had been at a ski school were brought to safety by a fell rescue team.

Public transport was widely disrupted on Wednesday night and roads were chaotic, with five-hour journeys commonplace for commuters accustomed to a 30-minute drive. The centres of Barnsley, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield endured protracted gridlocks as the blizzard arrived in time for rush hour. Leeds motorists blamed gritters, who had concentrated their salt on high ground west of the city. In Sheffield, traffic was still trailing out of the city centre at 11pm. On the city's many steep hills, groups of enterprising youths charged 50p each for pushing slithering vehicles. Fashionable four-wheel drive vehicles were stuck in the jams with humble Fiestas and Cavaliers. Police said drivers of the 4x4s had ignored road closures, only to be thwarted by drifts - or abandoned Fiestas. On one of the main commuter roads out of Sheffield, drivers of motionless Range Rovers, Shoguns and Jeeps were taunted by youths singing: "You sad bastard, you've got f our wheel drive."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions