A nationwide extreme cold spell thawed suddenly and unexpectedly on this Sunday. Thick, broken ice was washed down and formed a complete bank across the rive at the bridge. It stopped the current, threatening major flooding in the town. One man attempted to resolve the situation by blowing up the ice with gunpowder wrapped in oilskins. However, he became stuck on an ice floe close to the explosive with his boat adrift. To save himself he plunged into the river and was eventually rescued by four men in a boat. Soon after, the gunpowder exploded, blowing ice everywhere and generating a massive flood which caused a great disaster for hundreds of families living on the banks of the Nene. What they did to 'gunpowder man' is not recorded! (Currie, Ian, Frost, Freezes and Fairs: Chronicles of the Frozen Thames and Harsh Winters in Britain from 1000AD, Frosted Earth, 1996)
Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.