Ice rinks with roofs fare best during warm winter

Garden centres with roofs on their ice rinks have fared much better than those without after warm winter temperatures caused ice to melt at rinks this season.

Webbs: centre had 1,200 skateers on opening weekend - image: Webbs of Wychbold
Webbs: centre had 1,200 skateers on opening weekend - image: Webbs of Wychbold

Webbs of Wychbold marketing manager Duncan Burns said investing in a roof the season before last meant an "unblemished run" from 6 November to 3 January, with skater numbers up. The roof "comes with a cost" but paid off given the unpredictability of the weather.

"Customers continue to see the Webbs, Wychbold ice rink as a big Christmas event. In 2015 we opened the rink two weeks earlier and were delighted to accept more than 33,000 rink bookings, an increase of more than 25 per cent - 2015 versus 2014. A really positive event for us and feedback from our customers was very good."

Beckworth Emporium skating manager Mike Easom said the season was "very challenging" because temperatures reached 17 degsC, causing issues at the Northamptonshire centre's uncovered rink. "There will have to be a change to the way we do things," he added. "The only way to do it is to protect the ice from the elements."

Easom said rain caused problems with wet boots and "soggy bottoms", while melting ice meant the rink had to close for several days during the season. Rinks need to be looked after 24/7 so they can be re-iced at night when it is colder, he added. Easom said skater numbers would be lower than the 35,000 attracted in 2014-15.

Webbs of Wychbold had 8,500 booked to skate and expected 25,000 before the rink closed at the end of 3 January. The opening weekend saw 1,200 take to the ice. Some 10,000 were expected to visit the grotto.

Frosts was among the many garden centres where skating was available this winter, with three rinks. Ruxley Manor, Whitehall Lacock, Planters at Bretby, Waterside, Wentworth, Van Hage and Wyevale Cadbury, Huntingdon and Bicester Avenue also hosted skaters.

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