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Fireman captures sea freezing at Minster on the Isle of Sheppey

By John Nurden

Stunning footage has been captured of the sea freezing at the Isle of Sheppey - and a gutsy woman taking a dip.

Kent Fire and Rescue training instructor Peter Olliver, who is based at Maidstone, filmed the extraordinary spectacle this morning.

He said: “It was unbelievable. As the waves crashed onto the beach they froze instantly. The rest of sea about 10 metres was all slushy like a Slush Puppy.

Scroll down for videos

Sea freezing at Sheppey - the first time since 1963. Picture: Peter Olliver

“I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Dad-of-two Mr Olliver, known as “Kingy” to colleagues, has lived on The Leas at Minster for 18 months.

He said: “I was working from home, looked out the window at 9.30am and couldn’t believe my eyes.

Video: Woman swimming in the freezing cold sea

"I crossed the road and walked to the beach to have a closer look and it was awful. The snow was being blown horizontal. After five minutes I had to go in because my face was red raw.

“But the dogs loved it and jumped on the solid sea. It must be decades since this last happened.”

Video: Peter Olliver captured the sea freezing at Minster, Sheppey

Video later emerged of what turned out to be a woman braving the elements to take a dip in the sea.

Video: Joe O'Brien captured this footage at Warden this morning

Joe O'Brien has also videoed the sea freezing at Warden this morning There have been further reports of the sea freezing at Herne Bay.

The sea last froze around Sheppey during the winter of 1963.

Children playing on the frozen sea at Sheerness, Sheppey, in 1963. Picture: Libby Tucker
The day the sea froze at Sheerness Jetty, Sheppey, in 1963. Picture: Libby Tucker

The Halfway Road going into the Island’s main town of Sheerness was also closed by snow drifts whipped up by the wind. Drivers were forced to abandon their cars. Even police had to dig their own patrol car out.

Swale Police posted a warning on Twitter: “Halfway Road is now shut due to weather conditions. Officers now having to dig their vehicle out. Please avoid all but essential travel.”

Even police cars were stuck in the snow on the Halfway Road on Sheppey. Picture: Swale Police via Twitter

Bad weather has forced the postponement of at least two Swale events to night.

The showing of the film A Disaster Waiting To Happen – which charts how the American ammunitions ship the SS Richard Montgomery sailed across the Atlantic packed with 1,400 tonnes of explosives during the Second World War then broke its back and sank just off the coast of Sheerness on August 20, 1944 – has been abandoned.

It was to have been screened at the Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne, on Thursday at 7.30pm.

The snow-covered Sheppey Crossing and Kingsferry Bridge. Picture: Julius Matikas.

Producer Ken Rowles said: “Due to the bad weather our event has been postponed until Thursday, March 29. Existing tickets will be accepted on the night.”

A meeting to discuss plans for this year’s Sheppey Promenade Festival and Equality Parade, which was to have been held at 7.40pm at the Criterion Theatre in Blue Town, Sheerness, tonight has been put on hold.

Spokesman Janys Thornton said: “We would like to warn people not to come.”

Snow-bound boats at Queenborough on Sheppey. Picture: Julius Matikas

The public meeting was to have been the start of planning how the Island will mark the Suffragettes winning the vote for women 100 years ago. A week of celebrations is planned for the summer culminating with a parade through Sheerness on Saturday, July 28.

It has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 15. The venue is to be confirmed.

The annual Swale Volunteer Awards planned for tomorrow night in Upchurch have been rescheduled for Thursday, March 15.

Friday’s talk about ship’s figureheads at the Sheppey Little Theatre, Sheerness, has been rescheduled for Friday, March 16.

School Book Days have also been hit by the weather.

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