It was agreed by the Council in 1893[1] that skating on the lake would be allowed when the ice was strong enough - at least three inches thick - and where the water was not deep. The first opportunity for this was in 1895 between February the 6th and 23rd,[2] when the ice was consistently thick enough and ropes were used to keep skaters on the shallow parts of the lake.

The lake again froze over in February 1902 and reached a thickness of three inches. This part of the park was kept open until 10.00pm to allow skaters to take full advantage of the opportunity and over a four day period 12,000 people skated on the ice. Later that month the Parks Superintendent, William Pettigrew, gave a detailed report to the Parks Committee:[3]

"On the 7th instant the lake froze over, and by the 14th instant the ice being 3 inches thick, I had the upper portion of the lake around the islands roped off and thrown open to skaters. As skating can be so rarely indulged in in these parts I thought it only right to give the public every opportunity of enjoying the pastime while the ice lasted, so after consulting with your Chairman, I allowed the lake section of the Park to remain open until 10 p.m. on that date. The dangerous places having been roped and marked off by lamps, no mishap occurred, and thousands of visitors thronged the lake all the evening. On the following day the sun being very bright, and the air becoming warm, the ice rotted, and became so unsafe that at 2.45 p.m., I had the ice cleared and allowed no one on it for the remainder of that day. This action no doubt caused keen disappointment to a great number of skaters who continued to arrive at the Park all the afternoon. On the 17th, the ice having become hardened and quite safe again, a further strip was opened up, and skating permitted until midday, when it was stopped until 6 p.m.; the Park being again opened until 10 p.m. It was my intention to make similar arrangements for the following day, but after opening up a fresh piece of ice, I realised that a thaw had set in and consequently allowed skating to proceed as long as the ice remained safe. At 4.45 p.m. the signal was given to clear, and within ten minutes everyone had retired to the banks. I am pleased to state that although there must have been more than 12,000 people on the ice during the four days it was available for skating, not a single mishap occurred. The park keepers and assistants did their work remarkably well, and thoroughly deserved the confidence undoubtedly reposed in them by the numerous visitors. I may mention that ropes, ladders, planks, stretchers, splints, etc. were all at hand, and each park keeper carried a life-line about him in case of accident."

The Committee expressed its appreciation of the "admirable arrangements made by the Superintendent for preserving order and preventing accidents during the time that skating was available on Roath Park Lake."

The next occasion when the lake froze was in the winter of 1907-08, but the ice was not thick enough to allow skating. Following this disappointment a scheme was discused to make it possible to flood part of the Recreation Ground temporarily in a severe frost, to create an area for safe skating.[4] Although the Parks Committee instructed the Superintendent to investigate the idea and provide costs, in the event no action was taken.[5]

Some years elapsed before the ice was again thick enough to permit safe skating but in 1917 only two days of skating were possible. From 1927 the practice of lowering the water level of the lake in winter made skating impossible.

Sources of Information

The information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, Volume 3.

Other sources are:

  1. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces, Footpaths and Allotments Committee 19th December 1893
  2. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces etc Committee 4th March 1895
  3. Special Meeting of the Parks Committee 24th February 1902
  4. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 27th January 1908
  5. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 30th November 1908