is not famous for its good weather. A 'hot
' day tends to be about 25C°. But when it snow
s, it is still considered a time of joy
, and , occasionally, revenge
(an anonymously sent snowball in the face of your teacher is always a favorite). Yes, we've all heard the stories about how snowball
s have occasionally caused loss of sight (and occasionally concussion and massive heamoraging), but generally snowball
fights are harmless, light-hearted events. This was not so, however, in February 1870 in Edinburgh
A crowd of excitable students had accumulated on the South Bridge, and had started to throw snowballs at passers-by. Possibly not the most malicious crime. But when at midday a strong body of police arrived on the scene, the situation had escalated into what The Scotsman later described as "A Serious Snowball Riot At the University". The students, who had built up a supply of ammunition in the shape of snowballs, proceeded to hurl them at the police, forcing the unit to retreat. Not to be defeated, the police mounted a second, more determined charge. The students simply retreated into the university, locking the gates behind them. Between 1-2pm, the students of Surgeons Hall were dismissed, and they too hastily joined in in the pelting of passers-by.
Two more units of police constables were brought in, and a raid on the compound was made. One division entered via the back gate, and the other entered by the main door, and together they over-came the rioters, snowballs turning out to be no match for the truncheons used by police so liberally. Thirteen prisoners were taken, and hastily marched back to the police station.
The 'riot' did not finish there, however. On the march back, crowds who had earlier been the targets of the snowballs thrown by students jeered at the police, some throwing snowballs at the procession. The police made two or three charges into the crowd, but only succeeded in arresting one street urchin, which only provoked the crowd more, causing great embarrassment for the police force.
In the following days, the students, all of whom pleaded "not guilty" to Breach of the Peace were released, and there were no more reports of snowball riots in Edinburgh, as if the rioters simply had melted away.