|Although the tidal Thames could no longer freeze over after the opening of the new London Bridge, severe winters could still play havoc with the working of the port.
The big freeze in the Pool of London
The last big freeze in London came in February 1895, when a prolonged cold spell created huge ice floes on the Thames.
|The Pool of London in the frost, 1895, by Arthur Robertson. © NMM|
The lighters and barges on which the port depended were immobilized.
As only larger steamers could pass through the river, the wharves in the Pool came to a standstill.
|The big freeze of 1895 at Rotherhithe. © NMM|
Although the ice on the Thames created an eerie and unforgettable sight, the disruption in the port deprived thousands of work.
|St Paul's from the river. Winter (1895). © NMM|
Greenwich, Blackwall and Bugsby's Reaches
Further down the river, photographers captured the bleak landscape of the ice-filled river. In Greenwich, local optician W. Hudson photographed the ice in Greenwich Reach.
|The big freeze of 1895 in Greenwich. © NMM|
The big freeze in Long Reach
The ice was so bad that the river ambulance service to the smallpox ships in Long Reach was disrupted.
|The Atlas hospital ship at Long Reach during the big freeze of 1895. © NMM|
Smallpox patients were marooned in London for over two weeks before they could be taken to the hospital ships. Had an epidemic broken out at the time, London would have faced a grave crisis.
The big freeze at Grays
Even at Grays in Essex, where the Thames was almost a kilometre (nearly half a mile) wide, the ice put a stop to most river traffic.
|The Exmouth at Grays in Essex. © NMM |