Lonely Planet Writer

London could bring back Thames ice rinks after 185 years

London is not short of ice rinks at this time of year, with dozens of them springing up across the city, fenced in by royal palaces, historic monuments, and skyscrapers. So, the proposal to bring back the old Thames ice rinks from 185 years ago is likely to draw a lot of support from the ice rink aficionados of the city.

Tower of London ice-rink
Tower of London ice-rink Image by Dncnh

Architecture firm NBBJ has released plans to re-introduce the old floating Thames ice-rinks. The plans include floral shaped ice-rinks that would work via a network of jetties and sligthly submerged discs, which would allow for the ice rinks to freeze over entirely. According to Wired magazine,  Christian Coop of  NBBJ said:  “In a dense, modern city such as London, the Thames provides a unique open vista where the history and origins of this great city can be viewed.”

Ice skating on the Thames is well documented in novels and literature, notably in Virginia Woolf’s time-fluid Orlando. Londoners could skate on the Thames until the 1830s in the colder months of the winter. At that time, London Bridge would often block the flow along the Thames, allowing the river to freeze over and there was an annual frost fair around the event.

The discs proposed by NBBJ would mean the ice rinks could be moved or adapted to different areas on the Thames.

Some of London’s most popular ice rinks are Somerset House, Tower of London, Canary Wharf, Hampton Court Palace, and the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.