This Buckingham branch of the Grand Union Canal froze more quickly and solidly than either the River Ouse or the main canal. This was noticed not only by skaters from miles around, but also by the owner of Cosgrove Hall, who in about 1820 built an ice-house half-way between the canal and the Hall. The ice house was constructed rather like a stone windmill, with very thick walls but, unlike the windmill, the ice house has its greater part below the level of the surrounding field. Into the ice house, every winter from 1820 until the 1900s, ice cut from the canal would be stored and packed around with straw. By this method it kept until the following spring and summer, when it would be sold to local fishmongers, butchers and others in the days before refrigeration. In recent years it has become derelict, but it was the last remaining in Northamptonshire and one of the very few left in England.
|The Ice House continues to hold memories today.
As a boy in the late 1970's and 80's, I well remember groups of us Cosgrove lads would often make our way over to the ice house. Back then it was obscured from view by numerous trees that had grown all around it.
The door was still there and there were two levels still separated by floorboards. The only way down to the 2nd lower level was by a small hatch and old wooden steps. Back then, we all thought there must have been a secret tunnel leading from the hall to the lower level, and spent much time with our torches trying to discover it.
I'm very pleased to see this wonderful piece of history and part of many a Cosgrove lad’s childhood.