Throughout the ages the Thames has been locked in Winter's icy grip on countless occasions. In olden time when its bed was much wider, ice would form at the sides, and as the frost increased, would extend from bank to bank.
In 1063 it is recorded that it was frozen over for fourteen weeks, and again in 1076. In 1434 it was frozen over below London Bridge, as far down as Gravesend, and the frost lasted from November 24th to February 10th.
In 1515 the ice on the river was strong enough to bear carriages, and many passed over between Lambeth and Westminster, but unfortunately it is not said what sort of carriages - coaches did not come into use until a later date.
In 1564 we first hear of all sorts of diversions on the frozen river, the first real Frost Fair, but very little is recorded of it. There can be little doubt that London Bridge, with its narrow arches and huge piers, contributed not a little to the frequent freezing of the river from bank to bank.
Since the new bridge has been built such an occurrence has been less frequent. The floating ice was massed against these piers and heaped up on the starlings, and so formed a barrier, and the intervals between soon got frozen over.Next page: The Great Frost