Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. 

ROBERT FROST (1874-1963)


Wenham Ice 

Lake Wenham in Boston is now a reservoir, but it was once the most famous lake in the world. Wenham Lake Ice was the Evian of Victorian Britain, and the Wenham Lake Ice Company held a Royal Warrant as purveyor of ice to Queen Victoria. Its success was largely due to the extraordinary efforts of Frederic Tudor (1783-1864), the 'Ice King' of Boston, who harvested ice from Lake Wenham and shipped it all over the world. He had ice-houses in Cuba, Jamaica, New Orleans, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Sri Lanka and Singapore, as well as a shop on the Strand which would put a fresh block of ice in the window with a newspaper behind it so that passers-by could marvel at how clear the ice was. The shop window was regularly crowded with people staring at the ice.

The first shipment of American ice to the UK in 1844 baffled customs officers who had no idea how to classify it: it got stuck there for so long all 300 tons of it melted. 146,000 tons of ice were exported from America in 1856; amazingly, this was financially viable even though up to 75% of the cargo melted on the way. During the 1850s the much closer Norwegian lakes became Britain’s major source of ice; by 1900, Norway was exporting a million tons a year, and half of that went to Britain. Part of their appeal was based on a bit of brand piracy: in 1864 the Norwegians changed the name of Lake Oppegard near Oslo to Lake Wenham to give their brand some cachet.
Mechanised freezing eventually undermined the market for lake ice, though a belief that 'natural' ice lasted longer lingered into the 20th century, and the market didn’t disappear altogether until after the First World War. Interestingly, the boom in ice imports in the late 19th century was seen in Britain as evidence of climate change (although temperatures were not in fact rising in the long term).


In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.

In Antarctica in winter, boiling water thrown into the air will freeze instantly.

The world's ice sheets contain enough water to make the world's sea levels rise by at least 65 metres.

Ice sports

Nearly every major sport you can think of has been transferred on to ice. Some are novelty attempts, such as ice billiards and ice football, though most have been genuine attempts to create fusion sports, and they’re not all recent attempts.

Ice tennis and ice baseball were both tried in North America in the first quarter of the 20th century. Ice golf, a version of which was invented by Rudyard Kipling while he was writing The Jungle Book, has international events: the World Ice Golf Championship has been held in Greenland since 1997.
Special equipment has been designed to make both ice rowing and ice sailing a reality. Then there are events inadvertently played on ice: the 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys has gone down in American sporting history as the ‘Ice Bowl’, the coldest game in the history of American football, which was played at minus 25 degrees Celsius on a partially frozen pitch. Some players came away with frostbite.
Ice-skating is thought to have originated in Finland about 4000 years ago. The first mention of the sport in Britain was by a twelfth-century monk, William Fitzstephen. As he wrote: 'They fly across the ice like birds … then attack each other until one falls down.'


The word igloo (or iglu) just means ‘house’ in Inuit. While it's not technically incorrect to describe a normal house as such, the Inuit wouldn't generally use it to mean a western home (in which they practically all live today). They tend to save the word for their temporary dwellings that are built when hunting; these shelters are usually made with caribou hide or stone, and ice would be a last resort. The word for what we would recognise as an igloo is igluvijaq, which means something like 'cold house out on its own'.
The familiar snow-igloo is made by compacting and cutting snow blocks, which are then placed in an upward spiral: the blocks then fuse together by freezing. This means that the structure is always self-supporting – a very unusual construction technique which igloos share with the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Marie del Fiore in Florence, built by Filippo Brunelleschi without the use of an internal scaffolding support – supposedly there wouldn’t have been enough timber in the whole of Tuscany to make one. Until the 20th century it was the largest dome ever built. 
Sadly, ice igloo building is on the way out thanks to a change of lifestyle – younger Inuit prefer city life – and climate change. Snow of the right consistency is harder to find and it is ever more difficult to freeze blocks together.

The word 'forfrorn' means 'to be stuck fast in ice'.


I believe Ronald Reagan can make this country what it once was...a large Arctic region covered with ice.

On Thin Ice

Falling through the ice is always a risk to ice sportsmen. Advice to people who have fallen through ice includes this point, which is obvious when you think about it: always try to climb out facing the direction from which you came – it’s the only place where you know the ice will support you. Facing the most stable bit of ice, thump the top with your fists so as to make a dent, then dig your hands in as far as possible. Keeping a low centre of gravity, haul yourself out onto your belly, and wriggle your whole body onto the ice. Once out, spread your arms and legs apart and crawl slowly along until you're sure the ice you're on is solid.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Royal Humane Society had men stationed in London's parks called 'Icemen' whose sole job was to hoick people out of the ice. They had a contraption called a 'drag' which was pushed across the ice towards the unfortunate skater who'd fallen in. The victim would grab hold of the drag and the Iceman would pull them back to safety. To begin with, the society paid out money to anyone who saved someone from the ice, but they soon had to stop these rewards, as people began to abuse the system for the 5-guinea reward (around £350 in today's money). Two down-and-outs would pretend to be the rescuer and the rescuee, and share the proceeds. Monetary rewards were gradually replaced by medals and certificates.

The polar ice cap is melting so quickly that, by 2050, ships will be able to sail to the North Pole.

In 1673, Dover and Calais were joined by ice.

The technical term for ice-cream brain freeze is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.