Victorian Lodmoor.

Being down on the South coast, our weather tends to be fairly mild compared to the rest of the country, I’ve lost count of the amount of times that my hubby had phoned me from work in Dorchester, over the Ridgeway, and would gloat that it was snowing there, of course, in Weymouth, it would be raining!

But this years headlines forewarning of a hard winter to come, following on from last years got me thinking when was the last time that the water froze over down here.

I can remember one occasion as a child when the Backwater had frozen right over, and Mum and Dad took me down to skate there, it was packed…my brother even tried to ride his bike on it!….rather stupidly as it happens, as he ended up with one very large bump on his head!

Lodmoor is an area of flat marshy ground on the outskirts of Weymouth.


It sits right behind the shingle beach at Preston, which in the Victorian era, before the big raised sea wall was built, (pictured below) was all that kept the sea from flooding the ground behind.



Before, and during the Victorian era, this area was popular for ice skating when the weather was cold enough to freeze over the water that sat there, which seemed to happen fairly frequently during that era. It was the first place people flocked to when the temperature dropped for any length of time. Torch light parades led by bands would lead the way during the evenings, and a ring of blazing torches set around the frozen water gave it a magical appeal.

Articles from the newspaper of the Victorian sets the scene of a cold winter.

“1861 12th Jan


Lodmoor, with it’s vast expanse of ice, had furnished during the last few days the means of many enjoying the invigorating pastime of skating. On Tuesday evening it presented quite a novel appearance, a large number of gentlemen being furnished with torches and other artificial appliances to “throw a light on the subject,” The Rifle Corps, with it’s two bands, attended, and threw a halo of gladness over the scene. A large number of ladies and gentlemen who did not actively participate in the bracing exercises of skating or sliding were well repaid for their walk out by viewing the fairy-like entertainments.”

Again in 1864, the weather was sever enough to freeze the area sufficient for skaters to venture forth.

couple ice skating q 1887

“1864 9th Jan


Lodmoor, on Monday, gave a faint representation of the state of the Thames during the severe winter of 1813-14, it’s surface being covered with indefatigable skaters and by those who practiced the less aristocratic pastime of sliding. All were anxious to make the most of the weather, it’s continuance being uncertain. On the following days  it was well patronized, and free scope given to that species of Freemasonry always noticeable when a meeting of individuals takes place on the ice.”

Once more, In 1867 the temperature reached an all time low, but the locals still managed to get out to enjoy such past times as it would allow;

“1867 17 Jan



Some years have elapsed since Weymouth has experienced such sever weather as that which has prevailed for the last few days. The thermometer on Sunday and Monday was down to 22 below freezing point, and the continuance of snow on the ground (an unusual thing for Weymouth) attests the inordinate coldness of the temperature. The harbour was also frozen on Monday, which is another indication of the degree of cold. A magnificent sheet of ice was spread over occurred, none, however, attended with serious consequences. Lodmoor, presenting an area that must have rejoiced the hearts of skaters, hundreds of whom took advantage of the occasion. The streets and pavements have been dangerously slippery, and many falls have occurred.”

Some were rather too eager to get on the ice maybe?….

“1871 9th Dec

SKATING MISHAP-During the past week several persons have been skating at Lodmoor, but owing to deficiency of water the sports has not been so good as usual. Tuesday was the first day when the ice was strong enough to bear, but then there was risk attatched to getting on it. Several immersions took place, one “gay young fellow” getting into a dreadful mess, being covered almost from head to foot in black mud. He was in such an awkward position that he was unable to get out until assistance arrived.”

Nowadays, skating wouldn’t be allowed on the area as it has become a valuable Bird Sanctuary, and i’m not too sure that feathered birds would appreciate fellow waders of the two flat footed variety.



Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


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