AS temperatures dip, we decided to take a walk down memory lane and revisit perhaps the most severe snowstorm ever to hit Largs.

It was a lockdown of a different kind for locals in 1940 as the rail service and local roads in and out of town were closed off for days by drifts up to 25 feet.

Snow began to fall from leaden skies on Friday January 26 as Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride were brought to a complete standstill.

It was soon to become an impossible battle against the elements and a snow plough worker died on Fairlie railway track as 300 soldiers were called upon to provide emergency help.

The fine snow, blown by the strong wind, formed itself into drifts varying from four to nine feet deep.

Many people had to do without milk and food for days while council staff were unable to clear the streets but cut passages in the drifts to allow entrances to the shops and housing.

Finally Frazer's motor lorry cut a way through the drifts between Largs and Wemyss Bay, opening up a link to the outside world.

Greenock Central's Co-operative Society's milk van made the journey to Largs but it took 17 hours, while it took until Tuesday for other vans to get through with vital supplies.

Two snow ploughs, in attempting to clear the tracks, became stuck as blizzards continued. Frantic efforts overnight resulted in a third plough getting lost in the storms on the track. It was later discovered in the Fairlie tunnel, which was badly blocked.

The snow drifts at Fairlie were 25 feet high and the weight of the snow caused the waiting room to be crushed at the railway station, which was completely buried.

Additional snow ploughs of heavier build were sent to Largs from Kilmarnock but the five powerful locomotives, with dual fitted ploughs, came to rest in the high drifts and could make no headway.

Two railway inspectors aboard the ploughs made their way by foot to a gamekeeper's cottage in Fairlie, battling neck deep drifts, only to discover the phone did not work as they attempted to alert Largs station to the chaos. It then took them three hours through the storm to get to the signal box.

Three hundred soldiers arrived, but even they were confronted with too hardy a challenge as the sad news came through that well-known Fairlie man Alfred Burden had lost his life fighting the drifts.

By Wednesday morning the line between West Kilbride and Largs was cleared and life slowly started to return to normal.