On this day......142 years ago today, on January 15, 1867, hundreds of people went skating on the frozen lake in London’s Regent’s Park in spite of warning notices. The thousands of spectators were horrified when the ice cracked and about 200 people were flung into the water. Some were able to survive by clinging to lumps of ice, but many were dragged beneath the water by their heavy winter clothing.
Those around the lake dragged out survivors by tearing branches from trees, and a local boat builder managed to launch his craft and rescue others, but altogether 40 drowned. For the full story see Capital Disasters or The Disastrous History of London.
An even worse skating disaster happened at Des Moines in Iowa in 1900 when ice broke on a frozen river and 49 children were drowned.