London Canal Museum Ice Wells

At the London Canal Museum, close to Kings Cross railway station, can be found a surprising survivor from before the days of refrigeration – an Ice Well.

Ice was available in London before freezers were invented, which leads to the obvious question “How?”.

Ice wells were dug underground to store ice harvested in the winter months and imported from Norway. Safe from the summer’s heat, ice would be available all year round. The London Canal Museum’s Western ice well was built in 1856, and the eastern well a few years later.

Refrigeration meant the ice wells were no longer needed. Their last use was as a convenient dump for some of the debris from buildings bombed in the Blitz of World War Two. The current floor level is actually the top of the debris which is up to 40 feet (13 metres) deep down to the original base of the ice well.

The Ice Wells are open once a year. These pictures were taken on the 2023 open weekend. Access is via two fixed ladders.

West Ice Well
East Ice Well

The pictures with a red border are 360 degree virtual tours and can be used like Google Street View.

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