A common site in any late Victorian or Edwardian kitchen of a wealthy family would be what looked like a wooden version of a modern domestic fridge, and that is exactly what it was.  Some manufacturers referred to them as 'Refrigerators', others as 'Ice Boxes' or 'Cold Closets'.  

The one shown here is early 20th century (mechanical refrigerators did not reach the domestic market in the UK until after the 2nd world war).  

This one is fairly small and is unlikely to have justified an ice house to support it, but by the late 1800's, in large cities such as London, there was a daily delivery of ice blocks much like the daily deliveries of milk, so keeping one of these going was not too difficult.

A block of ice would be put into the top compartment, and the food in the lower one.  A pipe at the back took melt water down to a tray which would have been put underneath via the flap at the bottom.




These devices could be very elaborate and ornate, as some of these examples show:

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Last modified: 05/05/2017