The Cold Winter of 1830

Green Park

I went up to Collindale on Friday to find out a little more about the weather in early 1830. It was a bright winter’s day and it was bone cold – quite aptly as it turned out.

The winter of 1814 is renowned as being one of the coldest in history. In London the Thames froze over and near Blackfriars Bridge the ice was thick enough to carry the weight of an elephant.

Similarly cold was the opening month and a half of 1830. Here are some newspaper reports:

Berrow’s Worcester Journal – 21 January 1830

The canal is again frozen over and at some points ice extends across the Severn. We strongly urge the sprinkling of salt on the pavements when the snow is frozen upon it, by this means the ice will be immediately thawed, and may be easily cleared away.

The Morning Chronicle – 25 January 1830

This is the severest winter we have had for some years, and since our last we have experienced it in its wildest characteristics. On Wednesday as the Wellington coach was on its way to Sheffield, the coachman and passengers perceived on the road near Mam Tor, two men lying by the wayside, completely overcome by the severity of the weather. One of them was so much weakened that he must have shortly perished, had the coach not opportunely arrived. The other man was only just able to stand.

The Morning Herald – 26 January 1830

During the late frost the thermometer in a gentleman’s garden in Cambridge sunk to 6, or 26 below the freezing point.

Last Monday, at Heathfield, a young man, fool-like applied the polished face of a hammer to his tongue, and there kept the same until the frost had so fixed it as to cause blood to follow in its removal.

The Morning Herald – 3 February 1830

The view between Westminster and Vauxhall Bridges, particularly, displayed as characteristic and complete a winter scene as could well be imagined, heightened the interest by the falls of snow tipping with white the craft, the riggings, the boats, the timber, and the occasionally floating masses of ice and ‘icebergs’ – it could only be superseded by the Thames being completely (and it is now very nearly) frozen over.

Berrow’s Worcester Journal – 11 February 1830

The most extraordinary feature of the late frost (for we presume that it has at length terminated) is its total disregard of latitude. Europe appears to have been inverted, and the usually mild climates of Spain and Italy have been visited with a greater intensity of frost than some parts of England, while in Scotland winter does not appear to have differed much from its usual moderate character. The mean temperature of the month of January was 31.7 – being the coldest since 1814.

Image credit: John McCullough

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