To the south of the lower part of Bottomboat Road, the land back to the twisting and turning River Calder in this area was almost covered for S acres with a shallow lake of water which almost extended the 400 to 500 yards from the road to the river. During the winter when the temperature was well below freezing, this large expanse of shallow water made a wonderful skating arena. There were, in parts, large areas which were covered by clear water, free from water grasses and plants. In these sections the surface was perfect for good, safe skating. Even if the ice cracked, it was so shallow that there was no danger of the skaters drowning. For many years would-be skaters visited Bottomboat for open air, first-class skating.
If there was the light of a full moon, people skated on this natural arena into the early hours of the morning. The area was known locally as 'The Pastures'. Very few locals in my younger days could afford skating boots but often visitors came fully equipped with good skates and the more experienced skaters would show off their skills 'Torvil & Dean' style. Many local people skated on clogs and, whilst they were not artistic, many were useful skaters. Like all village sports there was always a little wager for a pint of beer on a race over a specific distance.
Perhaps statistics will prove me wrong but, from memory in the 1920's. I remember these cold spells often lasted for two to three weeks which gave time for many to have hours of practice and from this some became very skilful skaters. If skating was still possible at week-ends, many took advantage of this sport including a stall for serving hot pies and peas.
Whilst discussing Bottomboat, some of the places of residence had unusual names. There was the Barracks, Good Husband Street (the men in this street were once described as a wild, hard-drinking crowd). There was also Holy Row, Casey Court and Toad Hole
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