Before the invention of the refrigerator, most people were limited to seasonal foods or to those preserved by drying, salting or pickling. However, from the 17th. century, the rich and privileged increasingly built ice houses in the grounds of their large houses in the country, and occasionally actually within town houses to preserve food and provide ice for the table and especially to cool wine.
In the 19th. century commercial ice houses were constructed to provide ice for general use, to stock private ice houses when supplies from the local pool were scarce and later to produce “frozen” food. In the Midlands these commercial ice-houses were often built near canals to allow easy transport.Over the years many ice-houses have collapsed or been demolished. Others have been filled in or used for storage purposes, but of those that have survived, many have been conserved and opened to the public.
The Moseley Ice House
The ice house in Moseley Park was built in the late 18th or early 19th century, around the same time as the Moseley Dovecote and cow-house. During the years since it was used for storing ice, it had been used to store shale for the Chantry Tennis Club and sundry garden implements. Following an initiative by the Moseley Society, the ice-house was cleared of debris and remedial work carried out to the brickwork. The Ice-house has now been restored and is open to the public on selected Sunday afternoons during the spring and summer months.
(Text and Photos by Roy Cockel)