Southlake Moor - Frozen

With Burrow Mump in its North West corner, Southlake Moor was enclosed by embankments and walls as long ago as the Middle Ages. With the River Parrett to the SW, Burrow Wall (by the A361) to the N, Challis Wall to the E (near the Sowy River), the ground rises naturally up to Othery on the NE. Southlake Pumping Station used to pump out this area into the Parrett, but flow is now taken under the A361.

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The 1970’s Penzoy River Scheme created a new channel, mainly by enlarging the existing rhyne system, from Southlake Moor south of Burrow Wall, through to the King’s Sedgemoor Drain near Chedzoy. It allowed the abandonment of Southlake Pumping Station which had previously drained Southlake Moor into the River Parrett.

In the old days, Southlake Moor would often be left flooded all through the winter, to increase the amount of silt deposited from the overflowing Parrett. The pump would only be started in March, or even April. During the colder winters the water would freeze, forming a huge local skating rink. Accidents did happen, though as this newspaper clipping records.

FROM “THE LANGPORT & SOMERTON HERALD,” SATURDAY, JAN. 30th, 1897.

"Burrowbridge Ice Accident. - An accident which might have resulted seriously occurred near Burrowbridge on Tuesday of last week. Mrs. Richard HEMBROW and Miss THRESHER of Stathe were skating on the flooded land of South lake, when the former fell through the ice into about four feet of water. Fortunately Mr. Fred WINDSOR of Wearne, Langport, was passing on his return home from Stoke St. Gregory, and he immediately proceeded to the rescue, taking with him a waggon line. He was unable to extricate the unfortunate lady, owing to the breaking of the ice, which eventually caused the immersion of Miss THRESHER – who was anxious to render aid – as well as Mr. WINDSOR. Meanwhile some boys had raised an alarm and several persons assembled on the high ground about a hundred yards away, from which they gave excellent advice. After about forty-five minutes a ladder was procured, Messrs. R. CROSS and F. LANGFORD assisitng in dragging it across the ice. When, owing mainly to the valuable and plucky efforts of Mr. Fred WINDSOR, who had no less than three duckings, Mrs. HEMBROW was safely pulled on the ladder to the foot of the “Mump” she was in an exhausted condition. The place of the accident was within only three feet of a deep rhine, so these the ladies are to be congratulated on their very fortunate escape."

But, who remembers the big freeze of 1985?

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It seemed like half of Stoke and Burrowbridge were out on the ice - black bags and brollies for sails, and, if you were brave enough, silage bags (photo by Patrick Mackie). Bruce the rough collie was having none of it - toes splayed out and refusing to move.