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Frost Fairs on the River Thames

January 9, 2011

I love reading about unique events in history and Frost Fairs definitely qualify for my weird and wacky category.

      Read all about the River Thames freezing and how Londoners utilized the ice.


Frost Fairs on the River Thames by Austen Authors

….  held on the Tideway at London between the 15th and 19th centuries when the river froze over. During that time, British winters were more severe than now, and the river was wider and slower. Also, London Bridge was supported on closely spaced piers that were protected by large timber casings causing a narrowing of the arches below the bridge. In winter, large pieces of ice would lodge against these timber casings, gradually blocking the arches and acting like a dam for the river at ebb tide.

The “Long Freeze” or “Great Freeze” of 1683/4 was one of the coldest-known English, and European, winters. The Thames was completely frozen for two months with the ice reaching a thickness of nearly one foot in London.

…….the Thames was so blocked with ice that the watermen were unable to ply their trade, i.e., carrying goods and passengers up and down the Thames. To compensate for loss of earnings watermen took to the ice setting up stalls, and shrewd entrepreneurs built “long rows of stalls on the ice selling all manner of goods…..

via Austen Authors: Frost Fairs on the River Thames.

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