HOW IT WAS
The entrance was (just) visible from the access road beside Havergal cottage.
The first two pictures above show how the ice house looked before we started removing the soil to enable repairs. There was quite pile of earth and rubble in front of the entrance, and it was so well disguised, particularly in the summer when it was hidden by foliage, that most visitors were unaware of its existence.
The third picture shows how it looked once we had the earth removed from the front. It is clearly much easier to see now, and it turns out the floor is not above ground level, as we believed it was when we had to clime over the heap first.
It is also now clear the walls of the front of the tunnel comprise thick stonework, which once extended over a metre in front of the tunnel entrance. This may well have been part of a fancy stone 'entrance', but quite what this looked like we do not know. We are hoping to utilise this as the base of some complimentary entrance as part of the overall work.
The pictures above show the entrance and tunnel roof after the earth has been removed (May 2017). We have had some 75 tonnes of soil removed (mainly clay) and now the extent of the tunnel damage can be seen. In fact it looks like the tunnel was built in 3 separate sections, the last two of which were built on stone walls some 2' (600mm) thick. The first section (against the ice house) had started to collapse, with the side walls leaning out causing the arch to break and form an almost heart-shaped cross-section. Quite why the side walls should move in this way given the incredibly hard clay each side is currently beyond us.
The middle section was in good serviceable condition, although did have a crack along the centre which would need to be dealt with.
The last section (gate end) was damaged, mostly by a yew tree that was attempting to grow through it. However the walls were fine, so we only needed to remove some 9' (2.7m) of arch and rebuild it.
The first section however had to be dismantled down to a point where the side wall had broken, roughly 2' (600mm) from the floor level, and re-built, back-filling the space that was then be present between the new walls and the hard clay behind.
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