With the first snow in October for 70 years and the recent cold snap, the omens may not look good.

But it is unlikely that this winter will be as cold as the one pictured above.

Temperatures dropped so low in January and February 1895 that the River Thames froze in Oxford.

And the ice was so thick that it was strong enough to withstand the weight of a coach, several horses and a large crowd of people.

The picture comes from Pauline and Stan Bunce, of Hardwick Avenue, Kidlington, who found it in their family archives.

The picture is similar to one we published in the early days of Memory Lane, on January 10, 1996.

The only noticeable difference is that in this one, the boy with the striped hat in the bottom left hand corner is looking towards the camera.

Both photographs were clearly taken at the same time by the famous Oxford photographer, Henry Taunt.

The man behind this unusual ‘river excursion’ was James Porter, who ran livery stables in St Aldate’s – and it wasn’t the first time he had done it.

He drove a coach and four horses along the frozen Thames in 1891 – the first time the river had frozen so hard for 40 years – and repeated the exercise at least three times in 1895.

The Oxford Times of February 25, 1895, reported: “Mr Porter took advantage of the frozen Thames to give his friends rides in a coach with a team of four horses wearing special spiked shoes.”

On one occasion, the Mayor of Oxford joined in the fun, but took along some policemen in case of disaster.

The main reason for his fear appeared to be that one of the coach passengers was an ex-councillor “well known for his enormous weight”.

Mrs Bunce tells me that her husband’s grandfather, Frederick Lowe, a builder, who lived in Abbey Road, West Oxford, is in the picture above, although they is not certain where.

The picture is being reframed and now has pride of place in the Vickers Hotel at Woodstock, run by their daughter and son-in-law, Kaye and Keith Vickers.