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They strolled happily about on the ice or were pulled along on sledges or boats by Thames watermen who were temporarily out of work and needed a fee. Bonfires were lit on the ice and food was cooked.

Walking on the Thames: 's big freeze in pictures - ITV News

Shops and restaurants opened in canvas tents. Two big oxen were roasted whole at one point in January. There was plenty to drink, as taverns along either bank of the river opened their own booths on the ice and in the evenings sex was readily on sale.

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Four young men decided to walk up the middle of the river as far they could get and none of them were ever heard of again, though whether it was the river or the cold that killed them nobody knew. In England, this resulted in particularly cold winters which caused many hardships for its citizens. However, between and , this also resulted in at least 24 winters where the River Thames froze over which led to merriment for all. During this period, there were numerous factors which contributed to the freezing of the Thames beyond just the lower temperatures.

FROST FAIRS on the River Thames

The Thames was wider, as it had not yet been embanked, meaning it was both shallower and flowed slower. Moreover, old London Bridge was supported with closely spaced piers and timber casings which made for narrow arches for the water to pass through.

This meant that when chunks of ice formed, they were easily trapped between the arches, both creating a dam which pooled the water, and preventing the salty sea water from travelling up the river. Thames Frost Fair, —84, by Thomas Wyke.

Could The Thames Ever Freeze Over Again?

When the river froze, the men who made money ferrying people over in boats had their livelihood taken away, and merchants and other tradesmen had restricted access to goods and customers. It was therefore inevitable that when the ice was thick enough to cross by foot, people would take to it.

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The ferry men would charge people to escort them across the ice, and tradesmen would carry their goods across. When the ice was thick for an extended period of time, however, was when the real fun began. Initially the river was mostly used for travel or small-scale fun. In , Henry VIII sleighed along the river from central London to Greenwich, whilst in his daughter Elizabeth I used the frozen river for archery whilst children would play football. But in the seventeenth century, as the cold hit its peak, the river froze over more often and for longer.

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The first recorded frost fair occurred in , but one of the most famous fairs was the one of the winter of An account of the first known Frost Fair. Printed at London For Henry Gosson, People flocked to the ice to set up temporary shops. Food stalls were set up to feed customers, and fun and games would take place. People roasted oxen which could feed up to people per animal, and the ice was safely thick enough for shop keeps to light fires in their tents to keep themselves warm.

John Evelyn, a famous diarist, describes the fair of thusly:. It certainly seemed full of excitement! This was not a small-scale festivity of local children playing on the ice, but most of the city was involved. Even the king, Charles II, joined in; he bought a souvenir card which was being sold by the printer Croom for sixpence. Charles and his wife, Catherine of Braganza, also ate part of an ox that was being roasted whole on the river near Whitehall. Held at British Museum.

The frost of this year was the worst ever recorded in England, with the Thames being completely frozen for 2 months, reaching a thickness of 11 inches. The ice was so bad that even parts of the sea froze over — solid ice was reported extending for miles off the coasts of the southern North Sea England, France and the Low Countries.

This meant that this particular frost fair lasted far longer than most, and the Thames effectively became another street in London. Another eye-witness records similar sights to Evelyn:. Hackney coaches plied there as in the streets. It's everything you need in order to get things moving. Toggle Navigation Button. About the Movement About the movement Read more. What is Transition? Transition Hubs Group.

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