The ice houses for Pontypool Park are of great significance. They are unique within Britain as there is no other record of a double chamber ice house. The fact that they are a double chamber but constructed as one building marks them out as being of particular interest. Ice houses were usually one chamber only and were built individually rather than as a pair. Their location so close to the Hanbury family home is also unusual. (Park House now houses St Albans School).
There are a number of reports that the ice houses have been subject to a landslip at the rear of the building which has covered up the access door. Investigations have shown that this is not the case and access to the ice houses was and always has been through the top opening. It is also likely that the structure had a roof which may have been thatched to ensure as much insulation as possible.
Ice to fill the houses would have been taken from the Nant-y-Gollen Ponds and the nearby Monmouth and Brecon Canal. In 1864 the Free Press noted that “ice had been very plentiful and large quantities were secured for the Park ice house”.
During this time ice was contaminated and was not used in food preparation although in later years with the advent of the railway, clean ice was able to be purchased which could be used as an ingredient in food.
The icehouses have now been fully restored with funding from Cadw, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Torfaen County Borough Council.
Last Modified: 05/11/2015
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