WATCH: See how Victorian ice house has been brought back to life
- Credit: Archant
The Holywells parks five year project which uncovered and recently restored a Victorian ice house has ended.
In 2012 the Borough Council received £2.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to launch the Parks for People restoration project which would lead to the discovery of the 19th century building the following year.
The project also saw the restoration of the park’s Victorian conservatory and stable block which has been converted into a multipurpose visitor’s centre complete with a cafe, function room and education area but it was the ice house that really brought people together.
Richard Sharpe the borough council’s community engagement and volunteer officer for parks and open spaces said: “The restoration of the ice house has been a really good project for the community because it has all been done by volunteers but it is also such an important heritage feature.
“It was built underground and lost for years, no one knew where it was and through community engagement we uncovered it, we repaired it and explained it’s heritage.”
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The building was part of the original Holywells House grounds, previously owned by the prestigious Cobbold family, unfortunately the family home was demolished in 1962 and the ice house lost.
Thankfully the park project, with the help of willing volunteers, was able to find and repair the collapsed domed roof of the ice house and restore the damaged brick work arch of the entrance tunnel.
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More recently the volunteers have sought to fully excavate the entirety of the building which had been in-filled with rubble around 40 years ago.
It took the volunteers almost two months to dig into the park and before they were able to reach the foundations of the ice house, discovering an original brick floor and drainage system buried some 2-3 metres into the earth.
Dave Higgins, volunteer leader at the ice house site said: “I’ve absolutely loved the project, we’ve done a huge amount of building work around here, putting up fences and designing things which is what I really love.”
He continued: “We’ve got a great team of people who are very good with their hands and very hard workers.
“It’s a shame that it is all coming to an end now really.”