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1959: Adventures in the London fog

Barry Linton was 12 when London was hit by severe fog in 1959.

With no transport running Barry and his friends had to walk the four miles home - using shop fronts to guide them.

I was at school in the City of London when the fog came down and remember being sent home early.

It was clear to everyone the fog was unusual - everything turned grey-green and it was getting thicker and thicker. There was also an awful smell.

With memories of the Great Smog of 1952 it was a case of everyman for himself, we all had to get home. But by the time we left you could only see about one to two feet in front of you.

There was no transport so we had to feel our way along the streets of Shoreditch and up Kingsland road. The only light we could see was from the shops but it was very dull.

The thickness of the fog meant that despite it being the afternoon it was really dark.


"When I blew my nose it was just black grit that came out"

We couldn't even see the cars and buses that were stationary on the road. By and large none of the traffic was moving making it a very surreal journey.

It took us about four hours to get home and being little boys we thought it was all just a big adventure.

It is so different to anything we experience now - the air had a very acrid taste and the fog was just smoke particles making it very dirty.

When I blew my nose it was just black grit that came out - so it's very different to the watery fog we have today.

Even when I got home the living room was slightly misty - the whole thing was a very bizarre experience.

In Context
The fog was the worst the country had seen since the Great Smog of 1952.

The Clean Air Act of 1956 helped prevent smog because it banned the burning of domestic fuels in urban areas.

However, people were given time to convert which led to the event being able to reoccur in 1959.


Web Links
The Great Smog 1952
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