Ice skating on the River Ouse at Bedford, 1891 [BP28/10]
Wednesday 14th February 1917: The recent spell of cold weather has completely stopped traffic on the Grand Junction Canal at Linslade. Ice between four and seven inches thick has prevented passage for boats since the last week of January. A dozen boats carrying sand for munitions and agricultural implements are frozen in near Linslade bridge. An ice boat drawn by eighteen horses has been at work breaking the ice between Grovebury sand pits and Fenny Stratford, but the large lumps of floating ice were a danger to the cargo boats and made the work too hard for the horse. Even steamers, with their advantage of greater power than the horse drawn boats, have been unable to travel on the canal. The delays are proving expensive to the boatmen. They have to feed their horses, with fodder costing about £1 per week, and many have to pay sixteen shillings a week for boat hire.
The icy weather has at least allowed for some sport, which has in turn contributed towards the war effort. The Leighton Buzzard War Hospital Depot has received a total of £2 2s 9d raised from skating on Mr. George Garside’s sandpits. The activity was organised by Mr. Herbert Turner, the landlord of the Plume of Feathers public house in Lake Street. Skating has its dangers, and two small boys had to be rescued from Rushmere pond last week when thin ice gave way underneath them. Fortunately two discharged soldiers, Mr. A. Lansbury and Mr. P. Neal, were skating nearby and managed to rescue them from the water. Mr. Lansbury lay flat on the ice while Mr. Neal held his feet, and managed to grab the boys’ hands and pull them to safety.
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 6th and 20th February 1917