WHAT'S NEXT TO DO?
Once we have fitted the wrought iron gate, we no longer have the problem of people getting into the tunnel and potentially falling down the ice house well, and so we can remove the various barriers warning people to keep out. We will then be in a position to run guided tours of the ice house.
However, we do not want to limit public viewing to the odd day when we can arrange a tour guide, or to having to pre-book a visit, so the aim is to make the ice house safe for ad-hoc viewing.
In order to do this we need two things:
- Something to stop people falling down the ice house well
WHAT WE MUST HAVE IN PLACE FOR AD-HOC VIEWING
ICE HOUSE GRATING
In an age where litigation has replaced common sense, we would be responsible should anyone decide climbing down the ice house well was a fun thing to do, and then slip and injure themselves.
In order to prevent this, we unfortunately will have to put some form of grill or grating over the entrance to the well. We have looked at a number of ways of doing this, from glass sheets across the top of the well just below the entrance, to a metal grill across the entrance.
The aim is to give maximum visibility down the well, which may well mean climbing up on the edge of the entrance, particularly for small children, so clearly some substantial barrier is required.
The current view is to have something like the window cages they use in Italy. A simplified version of the one here could be employed, mounted on the inside of the well. This would enable young people to kneel on the step and look right over without fear of falling.
Alternatively we may just fit a circular grill (made in sections to enable it to go through the entrance), sitting just below the bottom edge of the entrance.
The ice house is naturally dark, being the wrong end of a 7m long tunnel, so a good torch is required for anyone wanting to view it. Obviously this is not an ideal situation, so we have had a cable laid which will enable us to obtain sufficient power from the toilet block in the gardens car park to enable us to have some good lighting.
The aim will be to have some low level lighting along the tunnel, sufficient to see where you are walking, and an up-lighter placed strategically down the ice well, so it lights up the magnificent dome without blinding anyone looking down into the well.
This combination will allow the beauty of the ice house to be appreciated from outside, with the dome showing up at the end of the tunnel.
There will be a timed switch just inside the tunnel which will turn these lights on for around 10 minutes, to minimise wastage of electricity.
In addition to this, it is aimed to have some lighting controlled by push switches at the ice house chamber entrance. A piece of nicely finished timber will be fixed across the bottom of the entrance aperture to enable youngsters to climb up without damaging the bricks there, which will have holes cut out to coincide with the missing bricks between the cavities. Toughened glass will cover these holes, and lights will be subtly mounted to light up the cavity when a button is held down.
A further button will light up the display feature at the bottom of the well - see below.
These improvements are not essential, but will help to make the whole ice house experience more memorable.
THE ICE DISPLAY
We want to give an indication of how the ice would have been stored in the ice house. We ha
Base of entrance to ice house with cavity showing
As far as we can see, the floor of the tunnel was always just earth. Currently this is not very level, given the building work that has gone on, but we will level it out before opening up for ad-hoc viewing.
However, we feel it would be nice to have something more substantial underfoot, and given we have around 400 'soft red' bricks over from the build, the aim is to use these to create a 'herringbone' floor to the tunnel.
A herringbone pathway
STONE WALLS AT FRONT OF TUNNEL
As can be seen from the first two pictures above, there are the remains of the original stone walls in front of the tunnel entrance, but both sides have started to lean inwards with the weight of soil behind. In fact, with the damage to the front of the tunnel, the east side has moved in some way even under the tunnel, and we had to sit the new arch on the outer side of that wall in preference to tapering in the arch - both this and the leaning of the wall are clear from the third picture.
The aim is to dismantle the stone walls up to the start of the arch, cut back the soil, put in a steel reinforced support wall, and clad this with the original stonework. The new wall will be returned along the front of the mound by about 1m to give a tidy finish and additional strength.
As can be seen from this website, there is a lot of interesting information about ice houses, and how ice was obtained and used, and we want to have some means of displaying this information near to the ice house for the benefit of visitors. The current aim is to build what will be effectively a rustic bus shelter close to the mound on the west side of the tunnel entrance, far enough away that it will not distract from the look of the ice house. This will comprise a back, two side walls and a roof, giving sheltered space to mount display boards.
As yet we have no definitive design for this, and location has yet to be agreed.
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