Designers Want to Bring Medieval-Style Thames Frost Fairs Back to London

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Most of us have seen the old paintings of River Thames frost fairs from centuries past. Unattractive people dressed in fancy-but-battered-looking clothing, hustling away on an impressively solid river surface, while desperately trying to stay on their feet. The designers at NBBJ want to bring such scenes back to our capital -- though presumably with the new addition of street food and craft beer stalls -- and have proposed an impressive-sounding scheme called ‘Frost Flowers’, which would see a series of floating ice rinks installed on the Thames.

The last Thames frost fair was held in 1814, going on for four days and at one point involving an elephant crossing the ice. However, conditions today are very different to what they were back then. The Thames was wider and slower back in the day, thanks in part to the formation of 'Old' London Bridge (complete with houses). As such, it froze over on a much more regular basis.

You’ll be pleased to hear that NBBJ isn’t proposing a sacrifice to the gods of weather, or the destruction of the river banks. It instead wants to place large, retractable jetties just under the surface of the water, where NBBJ says they’d isolate a thin basin of water and enable it to naturally solidify, freezing temperatures permitting of course. The jetties themselves would be foldable, allowing the temporary rinks to be quickly installed over various parts of the river.

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