Richmond Ice Rink
Oh Richmond Ice Rink!!!!
I remember being taken there a few times on a Saturday morning with my brother and sister and hanging on for dear life as we tried to do a circuit without falling over!! Mum would sit by the side and watch! In the mid 70s when I was older – about sixteen - I would go with my cousin on a Sunday night to skate around to the Top 40 that used to be played for 2 hours until 10 pm! We hobbled from the changing rooms to the ice! Half time we got a coke from the café and chat to friends from school who were also there. The boys who had lessons before the session began would whizz round showing off whilst us girls used to desperately try to catch their eye! Then the no. 37 bus home, having got some chips in newspaper whilst we waited for the bus to appear! Lots of laughter, fun, falling over and flirting! A fabulous meeting place for us teenagers. Such lovely memories and so sad when it closed!
Janice Newing (nee King)
My Memories of Richmond Ice Rink
As a small child my Dad used to lift me up to the curved railings to peep through the windows and watch the skaters glide by. We were on our way to visit my Nanny King who lived in York Road, Twickenham.
Some years later, in 1957, a friend at Darell Road School mentioned that she went skating on Saturday mornings. I asked if I could join her? Next Saturday we jumped on the 90 bus from Kew Gardens to East Twickenham and I got my first taste of ice skating.
Not very successful! In spite of being able to roller skate, the terrible, floppy, brown hire boots meant I spent the whole morning clinging on to the barrier, or sitting in wet patches of ice.
After this disappointment, surprisingly, I still wanted to ice skate! So my Dad took me on Sunday morning. This was much better, less crowded, so better hire boots were available. With regular Sunday visits, I gradually improved. Also, a friendly skater, who took pity on my non skating Dad, very helpfully, took me round the rink.
Dad noticed an advertisement for Saturday morning classes and I duly enrolled. After the first few lessons, with Joan Tomlinson, my parents managed to buy me my first pair of skates. I was very excited when we went into the shop at the rink and I tried on those smart white boots. My skating skirt was hand sewn in Needlework Class and my teacher insisted on a hem line just above the knee! Mini skirts hadn't arrived yet.
Mum now took over accompanying me to lessons, as Dad was a Co-op Grocer and worked on Saturday. Although she hated the cold, Mum took me to every lesson for the next two years and always sat rinkside to support me. We had great coaches, including Betty Callaway, who later, of course, became famous when coaching Torville and Dean to Olympic Gold.
I was never going to be a star skater, but my friends and I continued to skate regularly until our teens. Mostly on Monday evening, because it was dance night and hockey skates weren't allowed. Coaches could be booked for a dance in one of the special sessions. Everyone was asked to leave the ice and the band played strict tempo popular tunes for the dancers. I was taught Foxtrot, Quickstep and Waltz, but wasn't brave enough or rich enough to book a dance. Skaters could join in, if they had a suitable partner. During the dance interval we went to the cafe and thought we were very exotic drinking Rivela, a soft drink from Switzerland!
Usually general skaters did circuits of the rink in an anticlockwise direction, while the centre of the ice was used for coaching and practicing figures. I saw Arnold Gerschwiler coaching Sjoukje Dijkstra, the Dutch skater who won Gold at the 1964 Winter Olympics. We also used to watch Roy Lee and Ann Palmer practicing their dance routine.
I remember one morning, when skating with a friend, a crowd of press photographers rushed past. They had heard that Princess Anne was having a lesson in the small Arosa rink and were climbing on the balcony trying to take photos, hotly pursued by members of staff.
It was a great time to be living in Richmond. Young people travelled from all around to meet friends, have fun and take healthy exercise at The Richmond Ice Rink. Sadly my daughters Claire and Paula were only able to skate at Richmond a couple of times before its untimely closier in 1992.
I have never understood how the Council could have allowed it to close without insisting on a replacement elsewhere in the town. Thus preventing future generations from enjoying years of pleasure, exercising in a safe environment and sharing many happy memories.
Richmond ice rink.
7.30 silent swish, the skaters make a silent wish. Please stay open Richmond rink, without you we would surely sink.
The year was 1992 and I was watching my mum out on the ice for the last time before Richmond rink was closed, torn down and luxury flats built in its place. This was her home from home. A place to indulge in her passion and meet up with friends. She wasn't a mum or wife for a few precious hours each week but a talented skater and follower of her bliss.
I used to skate too at weekends when I was young. I borrowed my mum's spare pair of white leather boots which fitted perfectly. I much preferred them to the battered blue plastic rental ones which had been worn by a million different people. I loved the smell of the place, and the little pink paper ticket the man handed me at the entrance. The bustle of the changing room always made me feel grown up for some reason. It wouldn't have been the same without the loud tinny organ music belting out waltzes. It wasn't my kind of music but I loved it anyway.
Then of course there was the little corner kiosk where they sold sweets through a hatch. I'd take ages choosing and pointing through the glass and pocketing my bounty with relish. A quick skate then it was time for tea and biscuits in the cafe. I loved picking up the brown mock- wood tray and pushing it along those metal bars as I decided what to have. It was usually the same; tea (which I never drank at home) and a doughnut or orange Club biscuit.
It's a unique feeling to go from walking clumsily on rubber floors in those big boots to taking one step out onto the ice and gliding and swishing your way round and round the rink.
For a brief time I had Saturday morning advanced lessons in the small, quieter rink next door. It always felt too..serious though and took the fun out of it. The good and the great practised in the little rink. Torvill and Dean were regulars to my mum's delight. I preferred to spend my Saturday mornings out with my friends playing games or making perfume from crushed rose petals.
Despite months of petitions and plackard waving the rink was eventually closed. I skated elsewhere occasionaly but it was never the same. My mum had to give up skating altogether a few years later due to a knee injury. She still sometimes dreams of being there though, the sound of the blades on the ice, the crisp cold...and always that wonderful organ music.
Richmond rink may be gone but it will never be forgotten.
Samuel Viscardi Smith
Richmond Ice Rink Will Never Die
I spent the first 24 years of my life at the family home in Twickenham and the nearby Richmond Ice Rink was part of my childhood. I first went when I was 5 years old.
My father and I would often go to the rink skating on a Saturday. I remember that skate hire was upstairs and that having to walk down those stairs in skates was terrifying. To a small child it wasn’t a staircase, it was the perilous decent of Mount Everest. I know common sense would dictate walking down the stairs before putting the skates on, but it made sense to ensure a good fit at skate hire rather than go down stairs, find they didn’t fit, go back upstairs and queue up again only to repeat the process. This was also in the days before health and safety had been invented!
Once on the ice we would often bump into (no pun intended) other parents and children from my school and us kids would often end up playing “It” or “Tag” with the face off circles being the safe zones or “Homie” where you couldn’t be caught.
After going skating I always begged my father to let me watch the Zamboni. When you’re five years old a Zamboni is one of the coolest things ever. I even remember trying (unsuccessfully) to make one out of Lego.
November 30th 2013 and history was made as Richmond Ice Rink was reborn this time in the grounds of York House in Twickenham. It was a privilege to work there and I was delighted to be invited back in 2014 when the temporary rink was at Strawberry Hill House.
Twickenham used to have the ice rink*, a swimming pool, a cinema and Heatham House Youth Club. Now; unless they are old enough for pubs/bars, there is nothing for young people in the area to do. Therefore it is fantastic that the ice rink returned in 2013/14 and in 2014/15. All too often we hear children need to exercise more and finally there is a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy.
I hope one day Richmond ice rink will be permanent and that those who remember the original will still be alive to see it. In the meantime, as long as there is the temporary rink each year; then Richmond Ice Rink will never die!
*Although called “Richmond Ice Rink”; the original rink was actually in Twickenham. Twickenham is however within The London Borough Of Richmond Upon Thames, hence the name.