A huge part of the River Thames has frozen over as Britain suffers a sub-zero cold snap.
Temperatures in London dropped to -2C as Storm Darcy – dubbed “The Beast of the East 2” – sent the mercury tumbling.
As a result of the bitter chill from the Baltic, a huge section of the Thames even froze over at Teddington, south west London.
The extreme freeze meant the UK experienced the coldest February night for 25 years – with temperatures plummeting to below -20C in some parts of the country.
On Thursday the rare sight of a frozen Thames was captured by a member of the local RNLI crew at around 10am.
— RNLI (@RNLI) February 12, 2021
A spokeswoman for the RNLI joked they might have to use a smaller boat to break the ice before rescue crews could take to the water.
She said: “It’s not often the Thames freezes over in Teddington. We might have to use the D class [inflatable] lifeboat as an icebreaker.
“It’s quite spectacular. I’ve lived here for 13 years and I’ve not seen this part of the river freeze like this.”
The large section of frozen river is in the mouth of Teddington Lock on the non-tidal side, where the water flows slower than the rest of the adjoining Thames.
By Friday the ice had thawed slightly and was much thinner.
The Thames has completely frozen over in the past, the last time being in January 1963 – the coldest winter for more than 200 years that brought blizzards, snow drifts and temperatures of -20C.
Even some parts of the sea froze over and it is believed to be the coldest winter since 1740.
Between 1300 and 1850 Britain was in the grip of the ‘Little Ice Age’ and from the early 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century the Thames regularly froze over.
The ice covering the river was so thick it could support shops, pubs, fairground rides, blazing fires as well as tens of thousands of revellers – and even elephants could walk across it.
The first ‘frost fair’ as they were known was recorded in 1608 when the river iced up for six weeks. The last fair took place over 200 years later in 1814.
This week temperatures in the capital are expected to stay around 0C and -1C but could feel as low as -5C due to the wind chill.
The Met Office said Wednesday evening was the coldest February night across the UK since February 23, 1955.
The mercury plunged to -23C on Wednesday night in the village of Braemar, Aberdeenshire, making it the coldest temperature recorded in the UK since 1995.