Video: Skaters take to Welney Wash for the first time in 11 years

PUBLISHED: 16:27 06 January 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 02 June 2010

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By ADAM LAZZARI FOR the first time in 11 years part of Welney Wash was used as an ice skating rink today – prompting hopes that the British and Fenland Skating Championships will be held this weekend. Skating enthusiasts used to enjoy skating on the Wash

By ADAM LAZZARI

FOR the first time in 11 years part of Welney Wash was used as an ice skating rink today - prompting hopes that the British and Fenland Skating Championships will be held this weekend.

Skating enthusiasts used to enjoy skating on the Wash every year, but recent mild winters have meant that no skating has taken place there since the end of 1997.

But after last night's icy cold temperatures members of Welney and District Skating Club rushed down to the Wash at around 9am today and were delighted to find the waters frozen over and conditions good enough to skate on.

Club chairman Roger Giles said: "I was delighted when I saw the ice this morning and it's been great fun to be out there again.

"I've had e mails from skating enthusiasts from all over the country wanting to know about Welney Wash.

"We're hopeful that the British and Fenland Skating Championships can be held at the weekend. It could be at Welney, Whittlesey or Bury Fen depending on the condition of the ice at all of these locations.

"It could be held either on the Saturday or the Sunday - we will know more later this week."

The Fens are the birthplace of British speed skating, with its wide expanses of shallow water and vast network of drainage ditches forming an ideal terrain for the sport.

The Wash has hosted international skating championships with races being held as far back as the 1800s and attracting thousands of spectators.

Welney and District Skating Club members were joined today some local residents and Gary Evison, from Wisbech, won a bronze medal at the British In-line Speed Skating Championships in London in September last year.

He said: "Outside ice skating in this country is really rare these days so it's great to be out here enjoying this today."

Farmer Bruce Smith, 61, from Little Downham was among the skaters taking part.

He said: "Outdoor ice skating is a typical famer's hobby and I love it.

"When the fields are frozen over farmers can't work, so they go out skating."

He added: "My father used to skate here at Welney in the 1920s. He was in his 20s and used to come down with a couple of mates. They would all hold a rope and pull each other out of the water if they fell in.

"We used to get a light generator up and have games of ice hockey in the dark. Skating here today brings back some wonderful memories."

Visit our websites for updated news on the British and Fenland Skating Championships.


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