This weekend will see sub-zero temperatures, blizzards and icy conditions across Britain as an "arctic blast" freezes the nation.

It will be cold, very very cold but it has nothing on the chill of 1963.

That year the UK had one of its worst winters in living memory.

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A rather nippy Trafalgar Square

The snow started on Boxing Day 1962 and the big freeze lasted until March.

Lakes and rivers froze across the country amid biting temperatures and there were even patches of ice on the sea.

Huge ice boulders formed on beaches and blizzards caused snowdrifts up to 20ft (6m) deep.

The Arctic conditions meant thousands of schools closed, telephone lines were brought down and power cuts hit thousands of homes.

Temperatures dropped as low as minus 22.2C (minus 8F) on January 18 1963 in Braemar, Aberdeenshire.

Stephen Davenport, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "This winter doesn't hold a candle to 1963.

"January that year was the coldest month since 1814. There was snow everywhere and strong winds from the north and east. It was unremittingly cold.

"Most of England and Wales had a blanket of snow right through the month."

In February 1963 a huge snowstorm struck Northern Ireland, south west England and Wales.

That led to a fall of nearly 5ft (1.5m) in Tredegar in Monmouthshire - an "outstanding amount of snow", Mr Davenport said.

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  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File Photo dated 12/01/63 of a lady feeding the birds beside a frozen St. James' Park lake in London.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File photo dated 04/01/63 of a forest pony in the New Forest.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File Photo dated 08/02/63 of a farm and farmer in Thorverton near Exeter that has been completely frozen over, after overnight flooding and subsequent frost.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File photo dated 11/01/63 of a London resident working on two snow sculptures in his front garden.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File photo dated 23/01/63 of two motor boats frozen together in the River Thames at Runnymede, near Windsor.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File photo dated 22/01/63 of skaters on a frozen St.James Park lake in the shadow of Buckingham Palace, in London.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File photo dated 23/01/63 of two people cycling and walking along a frozen River Thames in London.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File photo dated 01/01/63 of milkman making the rounds in snowy conditions in Forest Hill, South London.

  • This winter mild compared with 1963

    File Photo dated 21/03/63 of Highbury Stadium in London as their FA Cup match is postponed due to eight inches of snow covering the pitch.

  • Caught In Snow

    Policemen and ambulancemen sitting on the touchline at White Hart Lane football ground, during a blizzard. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

  • Frozen Lake

    A man clearing ice from a frozen lake to make a space for the ducks and swans to swim, 16th February 1963. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • Ice Cake

    14th January 1963: The fountains in Trafalgar Square have frozen, giving the impression of a huge iced cake. Pigeons scavenge for food left by the RSPCA. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

  • Whipsnade Blizzard

    29th March 1963: Keeper Harry Stevens carries fodder for some of the sheep and cattle during blizzard conditions at one of the enclosures at Whipsnade Zoo. (Photo by William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

  • Post Office

    25th January 1963: The Post Office at Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire. (Photo by Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

  • Snow Stop

    Two men waiting in the snow at a bus stop, in Kent, during a winter of heavy snow. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

  • Social History. Weather. pic: 27th December 1963. Northampton, Northamptonshire, England. Men at work on the railway line near Kingsthorpe Mill, clearing snow from the lines, during the harsh winter that paralysed the country.

    Social History, Weather, pic: 27th December 1963, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, Men at work on the railway line near Kingsthorpe Mill, clearing snow from the lines, during the harsh winter that paralysed the country (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

  • Weather Great Britain. pic: 21st January 1963. The sea is frozen around Southend Pier, Essex.

    Weather, Great Britain, pic: 21st January 1963, The sea is frozen around Southend Pier, Essex (Photo by Bentley Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

  • Weather, Great Britain, pic: 22nd January 1963, A wintry scene at Leigh on Sea, Essex with ice and snow and freezing temperatures

    Weather, Great Britain, pic: 22nd January 1963, A wintry scene at Leigh on Sea, Essex with ice and snow and freezing temperatures (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)