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An idea has been announced to bring back ice skating on the river - like frost fairs in the past.

The new concept, designed by NBBJ architects, involves retractable jetties with a disc under the water on which water is frozen to enable skating on the surface.

It is the latest whacky idea for the busiest stretch of one of Europe’s busiest waterways. It follows a concept for a futuristic pier beside the Tower of London and the recently announced Deckway floating cycle track on the river.

And like those, this one has not been discussed with the Port of London Authority, the navigation authority for the tidal river.

The designers behind the Frost Flowers idea said it harked back to the days when Londoners could skate on the frozen Thames in winter , as people did in the nineteenth century.

NBBJ design director Christian Coop said: “In a dense, modern city such as London the Thames provides a unique open vista where the history and origins of this great city can be viewed.

"A draw for Londoners and tourists alike, the South Bank has become a bustling leisure area with bars and markets lining the river. New space is now desperately needed, and accordingly we looked to our heritage to find one possible solution."


A spokesman for the PLA said: “‘It is very hard for us to make a serious comment because the people behind the idea have at no stage made any contact with us to discuss it.

‘The simple truth is that any idea like this needs to take account of the practical realities of this fast flowing and very busy tidal River. 

‘There is now a very strong consensus across London decision makers that the Thames should be further developed as a working River for both passengers and cargo. The Mayor’s  ‘River Action Plan’ aims to double commuter and tourist passenger numbers in the years ahead and cargo use of the river has more than doubled in the last five years.

“The placing of such structures in the Thames, which reduce navigable space; increase congestion; and potentially create safety issues would need to be taken into account in considering such a proposal."

The concept images produced by NBBJ show the 'Frost Flowers' on the South Bank close to County Hall, the London Eye and Jubilee Garden – although the firm claims the idea could easily be adapted to a wide range of locations.

December 10th 2015