Before refrigerators many large country houses collected ice in winter and stored it in insulated underground chambers known as ice houses, thus making ice available all year round. There were a number of ice houses in Southampton, most connected with large residencies. The Old Ice House in Freemantle is shown on the OS 1:2500 map (c.1867) near Mill House just south of Richmond Road. There were others serving Bevois Mount and Portswood House but no traces of these survive. The ice house at the bottom of Spring Road in Sholing, which is known locally as Ice House Hill, was demolished in 1952. An earlier ice house was built in Castle Hill by Grantham Knight in the late 18th century and sold in 1798 to Robert Miller, a pastry chef. ‘Miller’s Ice House’ was later sold to the Marquis of Lansdowne, owner of the mock gothic castle built on the site of the old medieval castle. The ice house was probably destroyed in 1818 when the short-lived ‘castle’ was demolished. The Ice House Inn in Warren Avenue, also known as Ice House Hill, was built in 1912 over a large disused ice pit which had been constructed in c.1850 for Thomas Cozens, owner of the Clarence Hotel on the High Street.

Further reading:

Ice Houses of Britain, by S. P. Beamon and S. Roaf, p280-281.
Ice Houses in Hampshire’, by Julia Bowditch, in Hampshire Life, no. 13, October 1999, p17-19.
More Stories of Southampton Streets, by A. G. K. Leonard, p134-137. (HS/h)


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