Cumbria

Alston residents create community snowplough

Community snowplough under construction
Image caption The snowplough is being put together by retired engineer Tony Pennell

Residents of England's highest market town have come up with a solution to combat its winter isolation.

Alston in Cumbria is frequently cut off by blizzards and snow drifts, with the past winter one of the most severe for a generation.

The town has a number of co-operative enterprises, and the latest is the construction of a community snowplough.

It combines a farmer's tractor, parts of an old snowplough, a gritter and a snow blower.

Tony Pennell, a retired engineer, said: "You look around Alston and everywhere you find little businesses that are co-operatives or group enterprises."

The retired engineer, who worked for Vickers in Newcastle and Barrow is putting the machine together in his workshop.

Mr Pennell said: "Up here the wind blows the snow all over the place and you get drifting of 3ft, or 4ft, maybe more in places, and that means the roads are completely blocked.

"So we thought, 'let's have our own village snowplough'.

"It's a commercial plough and a commercial tractor, all we have to do is put the pieces together and we are up and running.

"We've had a lot of people volunteering to drive it, and will probably have to train three or four drivers so we have sufficient coverage."

He added: "It is very satisfying ploughing snow. It really is fun."

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