Ice-Breaking on the Weaver

Traditional Techniques: NarrowBoat, Winter 2008

Colin Edmondson

Colin Edmondson examines ice breaking on Cheshire’s River Weaver

Last winter, Tom Foxon wrote about ice-breaking on narrow canals (Winter 2007 NarrowBoat). On the River Weaver in Cheshire, ice was dealt with in a very different way. In looking through the River Weaver Navigation Trustees’ minutes and account books from 1721 to 1948, I found the first mention of an ice-boat in 1814, when it was said to be 30ft long. There was a payment made for hay and corn for the horses for the ice-boat in 1826, but there is no other payment mentioned. These would no doubt have been horses belonging to owners of the trading flats, as the Trustees’ account books do not mention expenditure on anything to do with horses except occasional ‘horsehire’. In 1831 Mr Gibson, a local boatbuilder, sent in a bill of £80 for the repair of “the ice-boat”. As his estimate had been for only £20, the Trustees decided that the bill was not to be paid and Mr Gibson was no longer to be considered boatbuilder to the navigation. Two ice-…

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