Kelsonians in 1800s knew how to throw a good winter warmer ...

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nineteenth-century Tweedsiders spat in the eye of freezing weather.

For, according to a report unearthed by council convener Alasdair Hutton, hardy townspeople in the winter of 1814 had dinner al fresco in the middle of a frozen River Tweed.

The Kelso councillor was clearing out old papers over the festive period when he came across a copy of a news story from a book entitled Of Olden Times.

Mr Hutton said: “We think we are having quite a hard winter but it is nothing like as hard as the old winters! And I noticed also the coincidence of the dates, January 22 this year is a Saturday and it was also in 1814.”

The report notes: “Saturday the 22nd January 1814 afforded to the inhabitants of Kelso a scene to which there has been nothing similar for the last seventy-three years.

“The late severe weather having frozen the Tweed completely over, a number of the respectable inhabitants were desirous of dining on the ice, and gave orders to Mr Lauder of the Queen’s Hotel to provide what was necessary on the occasion.

“He accordingly erected a commodious tent in the midst of the river opposite Ednam House, and served up an excellent hot dinner to a numerous company, from 40 to 50 having sat down to dinner.”

The company toasted the King, “Lord Wellington and our gallant armies in France”, “The long standing of Kelso Bridge”, “General Frost, who so signally fought last winter for the deliverance of Europe, and who now supports the present company”, “Both sides of the Tweed, and God save us in the middle”.

And the report continues: “A variety of patriotic toasts and sentiments followed. Many excellent songs were sung, and the whole proceedings were characterised by the utmost mirth and hilarity.”

The reporter said the group was “much gratified” to see an elderly resident at the dinner who had also been at “the last entertainment given under similar circumstances” in the winter of 1740 when part of an ox was roasted on the ice.

The report continues: “The honest veteran expressed much joy at again witnessing a similar entertainment after the lapse of seventy-three years and declared that the present generation had by no means degenerated from their ancestors in the essentials of good cheer, good fellowship, and hospitality.”

Commenting on the festivities nearly 200 years ago, Mr Hutton said: “I think it shows great style in making the most of the harsh weather and doing something positive about it!”