Torville and Dean helped create world of ice skating antiques

Made of leather, size 9, and on sale for 28
Made of leather, size 9, and on sale for 28
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Our antiques expert takes a look at ice staking memorabilia...

This week all I’ve heard about is the ITV programme Dancing on Ice that’s back on Sunday nights. It’s four years since it was last on television, and it’s all the staff here are talking about.

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Programmes like this and Strictly Come Dancing motivate people to take up the sport or hobby, and I’ll bet the ice rink at Blackpool has been inundated with phone calls in the last few weeks!

When one thinks of collectables, one often thinks of Royal Doulton, clocks or stamps! But sporting collectables are hugely popular and some collectors seek out specific items. Ice skating, whilst not an “everyday” sport like football or tennis, still has its fans and followers, and I know a few people in the North West who collect old roller skates and ice skates. They’d love these!

Ice skating dates back to at least 5,000 B.C.

The first pair of skates we have were found at the bottom of a lake in Switzerland, dated to 3,000 B.C.

They were made from the leg bones of large animals such as horse, ox or deer. Holes were bored through each end with leather straps to tie the skates on.

Around 200 A.D. the first metal skates replaced bone with a thin copper strip, and in the 14th Century, the Dutch developed wooden platforms with iron bottoms, still attached with leather straps. Similar to skiing, poles were needed to propel yourself along.

In 1914, a blade-maker from Minnesota created the ‘modern’ skate, with an integral shoe and closed-toe blade making skates lighter and faster. While the materials have improved over the years, the design has barely changed.

The popularity of ice-skating and related sports today – including Dancing on Ice – means celebrities, and therefore collectables.

Figure skating is the oldest Olympic Winter Games sport, since 1908, and signed memorabilia by competitors such as British champions Torville and Dean are very popular.

Unusually for a ‘tidal’ river, there are records of the Lune at Lancaster being frozen solid in 1739 and 1820.

In 1963 I was at school in Cambridge and the River Cam froze for 3 months.

We all skated on it then, but I don’t think I’d cut a very elegant figure on the ice nowadays, were it to happen again.