On Sunday whilst checking pointing our 10 Tors teams we had a gap in our schedule which allowed us to divert and have a quick look at the Ice Factory below Sourton Tor. I had heard about it and despite having been to Sourton Tor a number of times had never seen it.
The story of the Ice Factory is one of entrepreneurial endeavour which seems to characterise so much of Dartmoor’s industrial history.
Between 1875 and 1886 James Henderson, an engineer, built the structure for the production of natural ice. Water off the moor would be collected in the shallow ponds where it would freeze. The ice would then be shipped to Plymouth and be used to preserve fish as they were taken to London and elsewhere by train. It of course relied on Dartmoor’s harsh climate to work. The venture was short lived and was a financial disaster – a series of mild winters along with competition from ‘artificial’ ice making operations meant the plant closed a few years after it commenced.
This book – ‘The Field Archaeology of Dartmoor’ by Phil Newman gives an excellent account of the project p230-32. It is also a superb book on the archaeology of Dartmoor as a whole and I can thoroughly recommend it.
Well worth a visit – park up at Prewley Moor off the A386 and it is then a 15 minute walk
Also recommend you get the The Field Archaeology of Dartmoor – see here.