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Not Brentford New

Brentford Winter, 1890/91

In May 2010 Quentin Pickard transcribed a handwritten note' that I had made about an event described to me by my grandfather, Arthur James Hockaday' (More about the Hockaday family). This note was originally written c1963/65.

Memories of Arthur James Hockaday

"AJH told me that during one particularly cold winter, the girls of Brentford learnt to skate on the ice on the (Grand Union) canal. As he could skate already, he spent many a morning helping them. The freeze naturally did great damage to the narrow boats, and the water froze so quickly that it was impossible to keep the ice broken up - the ice was eventually discovered to be 4 feet thick."

The water pump in AJH's father's pub yard ('Half Moon and Crown', 55 London Road, Isleworth) was the only one for miles around which was unknown to freeze - during the 13 weeks of this particularly cold winter, the water from the pump seemed quite warm. People would come with great baths and basins to collect water - they would fill the tub to the brim, and then slip on the ice, sending streams of water into the kitchen of the pub, or across the road, where of course it froze and played more havoc.

The date of this winter

In 'Brentford and Chiswick As It Was', photo 31 shows 'The Thames frozen over at Brentford 14th January 1891... Greenwich Royal Observatory ... stated that from 28th November 1890 to Christmas 1890 was the longest period of frost for 50 years..' . It also mentions that the barges were frozen into the water but as they were full of goods the bargemen could not leave them to look for work on the land, and they appealed for monetary relief.

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Page published June 2010