18th century ice house discovered in London – watch this!

Archaeologists in the UK have rediscovered a large icehouse in central London, dating back to 1780. This was where wealthy Georgians stored ice from Norway back in the day. 

Check out this cool video from the BBC…

Archaeologist from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) rediscovered the ice house during the development of Regent’s Crescent, a landmark residential project near Regent’s Park in London.

The subterranean ice house would have been one of the largest of its kind when first built – measuring an impressive 7.5m wide and 9.5m deep. Remarkably, the red brick, egg-shaped chamber survived the Blitz despite the destruction of the mews houses above, and is said to be in excellent condition, along with its entrance passage and vaulted ante-chamber.

In the 1820s the ice house was used by pioneering ice-merchant and confectioner William Leftwich to store and supply high quality ice to London’s Georgian elites, long before it was possible to manufacture ice artificially. Demand was high from catering traders, medical institutions and food retailers. Ice was collected from local canals and lakes in winter and stored but it was often unclean, and supply was inconsistent.

Buildings archaeologists from MOLA record the interior of the Regents Crescent ice house c MOLA 2Archaeologists from MOLA record the interior of the Regents Crescent ice house. © MOLA

According to MOLA, Leftwich was one of first people to recognise the potential for profit in imported ice. In 1822, following a very mild winter, he chartered a vessel to make the 2 000km round trip from Great Yarmouth to Norway to collect 300t of ice harvested from frozen lakes.



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