We've found no mention of ice before 1878 when there is an account of an angler having to break the ice to launch a punt. Apparently, the middle of the reservoir was not frozen over and his fishing was extremely successful. [1]

The Hampden Pond in Wendover which was also created by the Canal Company in the 1790’s became popular for ice skating when it froze over in the winter. Sadly, in 1868, it was the scene of a tragic accident. A number of boys from the National School, taking advantage of a half-holiday in January, went to play on the frozen pond, the ice broke and five of the schoolboys were drowned despite brave attempts to rescue them. [2] It seems unlikely that the reservoir didn't offer a similar opportunity for winter sports.

1880 provided plenty of ice, in addition to skating there was a cricket match on the ice, but the game was brought to a premature conclusion by dense fog. [3]

1881 there is another extraordinary report

"Full advantage was taken of the ice by skaters as long as the frost lasted, and the novel sight was witnessed at the beginning of the week of blocks of ice two feet square, and some nine inches in thickness, being sawn out of the frozen surface of the canal, and consigned in large quantities to the icehouse of the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, whose enterprising manager also secured a considerable supply from the reservoir at Halton." [4]

The same winter, there is also a dramatic rescue:-

"“Narrow Escape from Drowning”. On Tuesday last a boy from Barton fell into the Halton Reservoir owing to breaking of the ice, and, having sunk twice, was gallantly rescued by another boy who was with him. He was taken to the Rev. Mr Dickenson’s at the Castle, where his cloths having been changed, and some warm food given to him, he came round, and was then sent home, very thankful for his narrow escape." [5]

1892 There was plenty of skating on 26 and 27th December though there were also some immersions, none fatal or even serious. [6]

1895 was the last Thames Freeze and the end of a decade long “Little Ice Age” (not to be confused with the one mid-17th century). We have no record of skating, but 1902 was described as the first year with skateable ice since 1895. [7]

1902 Had a February weekend of good skating conditions before the thaw.

"The ice on Halton reservoir was in splendid condition on Saturday and Sunday, but those who speculated in a pair of skates on Monday were sadly disappointed." Bucks Herald [9]

1929 February 1929, The Bucks Herald has a title of “The Cold Snap” For the first time for many years canals and rivers have been frozen over, and large numbers of people have enjoyed the rare pastime of skating and sliding.

It is probably one of the years described by Hamish Eaton in Weston Turville A History

“In the good old days, when winters were winters, the frozen reservoir provided opportunities for ice-skating.

People from nearby villages availed themselves of this diversion and on occasions, the strains of “The Skaters’ Waltz” accompanied the fun, played by the village band or the Royal Air Force band from Halton. Elderly folk were provided with chairs mounted on skates which could be hired from the water bailiff, Mr. Paine or Perch Cottage.” [11]

In our audio archive, we have an interview with Clara Dudman, the daughter of Francis Paine which tells us that he would not allow skating unless there was at least 3 inches of ice. Clara had a chair with skates attached, which they push around.

Best of all – it provides us with the only colour image of ice on the reservoir we've found. Alexander Jamieson's "Skating on the Reservoir" gives no indication that this was infact the first opportunity to skate on Weston Turville reservoir in many years. It even includes someone enjoying the ice on a chair mounted on skates as mentioned above.[12]

1940 In John Lawton's diary:-

14th January - Sunday; Glass falling rapidly. Raw foggy day, but very cold. Many skating on the Reservoir.

15th January – Monday; Very successful A.R.P. first aid class, but only 11 wardens present – some had got stiff with skating on the Reservoir. [8]


  1. ^ "The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News" 17 May 1878

  2. ^ "Wendover, Our Place in History" by Margaret Gosling

  3. ^ Bucks Herald 31 Jan 1880

  4. ^ Bucks Herald 29 Jan 1881

  5. ^ Bucks Herald 05 Feb 1881

  6. ^ Bucks Herald 31 Dec 1892

  7. ^ Bucks Herald 22 Feb 1902

  8. ^ "Much More than the Village Schoolmaster" John Lawton's war diaries, edited by Ray Lawton.

  9. ^ Bucks Herald 22 Feb 1901

  10. ^ Bucks Herald 22 Feb 1929

  11. ^ "Weston Turville a History" Hamish Eaton

  12. ^