In the beginning of the winters of 1767 and 1768 there were also severe frosts. The navigation of the river was completely stopped, while below bridge the damage done by the floating ice was enormous. Ships, barges, and small craft were driven hither and thither; many were sunk and driven on shore, and a great number of human lives were sacrificed.
Some time before this Westminster Bridge had been built, being then the only one besides London Bridge, which at last had been cleared of its houses and considerably repaired in 1757-58.
The handsome old bridge of Blackfriars, the work of Robert Mylne, was opened in 1769 Southwark Bridge, by John Rennie, was opened in 1819; and Waterloo -or, as it was first called, the Strand Bridge-in 1817.
On the 26th of November, 1703, there was a great hurricane. All the ships in the river, from London Bridge to Limehouse, with the exception of four only, were broken from their moorings and thrown on shore. Upwards of four hundred wherries were entirely lost, more than sixty barges were driven foul of London Bridge, and as many more were either sunk or staved above bridge. The loss of life was considerable.
On the 1st of January, 1730, there was such a dense fog that it caused numerous deaths and fatalities from collisions among the shipping.
On the 25th of November, 1788. another great frost occurred which again lasted seven weeks. The river was completely frozen over above and below bridge, and the usual Frost Fair took place, which this time included a wild beast show.
The thaw setting in suddenly threw everything into the greatest confusion, and the immense blocks of ice floating on the surface made it necessary to moor the ships close in, and yet many broke away from the pressure.
One vessel off Rotherhithe was partly fastened to the main beams of a house, and, such was the enormous pressure of the ice, that the whole building collapsed, and unhappily five people who were asleep in their beds perished.Next page: High Tides