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Winter 1683-84


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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

    The coldest winter in the CET records with a value of -1.2

    Here's some extracts from John Evelyn's diary on this winter

    2nd January: The thames is frozen

    6th January: It being in England this year one of the severest frosts that has happened of many years

    11th January: The weather continuing intolerably severe, streets of booths were set upon Thames; the air was so very cold and thick as of many years there had not been the like.

    16th January: The river quite frozen.

    19th January: I went across the Thames on the ice now become so thick as to bear not only streets of booths in which they roasted meat and had divers shops of wares, quite across as in a town but coaches, carts, horses passed over. So I went from Westminster stairs to Lambeth.....returning I walked over the ice from Lambeth stairs to the Horseferry walked over the ice from Lambeth stairs to the Horseferry.

    26th January: The Thames was filled with people and tents, selling all sorts of wares in the City.

    3rd February: The frost continuing more and more severe, the Thames before London was still planted with booths in formal streets, all sorts of trades and shops furnished and full of commodities, even to a printing press....Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple and from several other stairs to and fro, as in the streets , sleds, sliding with skates, a bull baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays...so that it seemed to be a bacchanalian triumph or carnival on the water, whilst it was a severe judgement on the land, the trees not only splitting as if lightning-struck, but men and cattle perishing in divers places and the very seas so locked up with ice that no vessels could stir out or come in. The fowls, fish and birds and all our exotic plants and greens, universally perishing.....Nor was this severe weather much less intense in most parts of Europe even as far Spain and the most southern tracts. London by reason of the excessive coldness of the air hindering the ascent of the smoke, was so filled with the fuliginous steam of sea coal, that hardly could one see across the streets and this filling the lungs with its gross particles exceedingly obstructed the breast so as one could scarcely breathe. Here was no water to be had from the pipes and engines, nor could the brewers and divers other tradesmen work, and every moment was full of disastrous accidents.

    15th February: It began to thaw but froze again. My coach crossed from Lambeth to the Horseferry at Millbank. The booths were almost taken down.

    18th February: The weather was set in to an absolute thaw and rain, but the Thames is still frozen.

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    Yes this was certainly a famous one - apparently it was the basis for the winter scenes in "Lorna Doone". I wonder what the temperature was - could it have exceeded the recorded minimum for the UK of -27.2C? I once read an account of a bottle of ink freezing in one of the Oxford colleges during thes winter as well which gives an indication of the intensity of the cold. It does not appear to have been particularly snowy, so it must have been dry, and would probably have been similar to winter conditions in say Edmonton, Canada today. Having myself experienced Canadian winter weather belive me it is bone chillingly cold!!

    The coldest winter in the CET records with a value of -1.2

    Here's some extracts from John Evelyn's diary on this winter

    2nd January: The thames is frozen

    6th January: It being in England this year one of the severest frosts that has happened of many years

    11th January: The weather continuing intolerably severe, streets of booths were set upon Thames; the air was so very cold and thick as of many years there had not been the like.

    16th January: The river quite frozen.

    19th January: I went across the Thames on the ice now become so thick as to bear not only streets of booths in which they roasted meat and had divers shops of wares, quite across as in a town but coaches, carts, horses passed over. So I went from Westminster stairs to Lambeth.....returning I walked over the ice from Lambeth stairs to the Horseferry walked over the ice from Lambeth stairs to the Horseferry.

    26th January: The Thames was filled with people and tents, selling all sorts of wares in the City.

    3rd February: The frost continuing more and more severe, the Thames before London was still planted with booths in formal streets, all sorts of trades and shops furnished and full of commodities, even to a printing press....Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple and from several other stairs to and fro, as in the streets , sleds, sliding with skates, a bull baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays...so that it seemed to be a bacchanalian triumph or carnival on the water, whilst it was a severe judgement on the land, the trees not only splitting as if lightning-struck, but men and cattle perishing in divers places and the very seas so locked up with ice that no vessels could stir out or come in. The fowls, fish and birds and all our exotic plants and greens, universally perishing.....Nor was this severe weather much less intense in most parts of Europe even as far Spain and the most southern tracts. London by reason of the excessive coldness of the air hindering the ascent of the smoke, was so filled with the fuliginous steam of sea coal, that hardly could one see across the streets and this filling the lungs with its gross particles exceedingly obstructed the breast so as one could scarcely breathe. Here was no water to be had from the pipes and engines, nor could the brewers and divers other tradesmen work, and every moment was full of disastrous accidents.

    15th February: It began to thaw but froze again. My coach crossed from Lambeth to the Horseferry at Millbank. The booths were almost taken down.

    18th February: The weather was set in to an absolute thaw and rain, but the Thames is still frozen.

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl

    It's probably wrong to say this but I wish I could experience a similar winter, just the once mind; it must have been an amazing sight. Horse and coach races on the frozen Thames, say it did freeze like that again, can you imagine the health&safety hoohah if anyone tried to do the same?

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    Posted
  • Location: Norton, Stockton-on-Tees
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and cold in winter, warm and sunny in summer
  • Location: Norton, Stockton-on-Tees

    I would suggest that it is almost certain that -30c will have been recorded somewhere in the country in the winter of 1683/84, if not in Scotland then somewhere in the Midlands, but it's possible that Braemar could have got close to -35c!!

    And I was also lucky enough to spend 2 weeks with a family friend in Brandon, Manitoba (near Winnipeg) and it got down to -34c and was no higher than -13c the whole time I was there and it was incredibly cold!

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    Posted
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts
  • Weather Preferences: Rain/snow, fog, gales and cold in every season
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts
    It's probably wrong to say this but I wish I could experience a similar winter, just the once mind; it must have been an amazing sight. Horse and coach races on the frozen Thames, say it did freeze like that again, can you imagine the health&safety hoohah if anyone tried to do the same?

    Nothing wrong at all in saying that, Jethro, I'd like the average winter to rival 1684 and then a few really cold ones from time to time.

    Bar a major climatic shift the chances of the Thames freezing in London are now remote. The major factor in reducing the chances of the Thames freezing was the removal of the old London bridge in 1831; the supports of the bridge were so thick they had the effect of damming the river and there was almost no tidal flow beyond the bridge, when ice formed up river it floated down and became jammed at the bridge, increasing the chances of freezing what free water remained. The new London bridge had much wider arches and any ice floating down river continued on its way.

    In addition to the above, the draining of Vauxhall and Lambeth marshes reduced the chance of ice forming at the edges of the river, the construction of embankments increased the flow of water, the piping of tributaries such as the Fleet meant that no ice could form in these streams and flow into the river and the construction of locks and weirs up river reduced the amount of ice which was able to form and float down river.

    I would imagine a sustained period of temperatures around -20c might freeze the Thames but as things stand this looks quite unlikely.

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    Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
    It's probably wrong to say this but I wish I could experience a similar winter, just the once mind; it must have been an amazing sight. Horse and coach races on the frozen Thames, say it did freeze like that again, can you imagine the health&safety hoohah if anyone tried to do the same?

    Only the non-tidal 'freshwater' stretches of the Thames are likely ever to freeze now (as happened in 1963), as the last frost fair on the lower tidal Thames in 1814 was followed a few years later by the building of a new London Bridge upstream then demolition of the old bridge - the new bridge had much wider arches and thus water was allowed to flow much more freely and this faster flowing water prevents the water from freezing, plus I imagine the warm effluent of 7 million people that flows into the river too!

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
    I would imagine a sustained period of temperatures around -20c might freeze the Thames but as things stand this looks quite unlikely.

    Agreed; it would be fun though. If a miracle did happen, I'd hazard a guess everyone would be barricaded off, no skating, fairs or horse riding allowed.

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    Posted
  • Location: cotswolds
  • Location: cotswolds

    i tend to agree. in this day and age if the thames froze, which really isnt going to happen in the near future anyway, the chances of people being allowed on the ice are zero. it was clearly more fun in the 17th century!

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