Regent’s Crescent ‘Ice House’ – the undiscovered ice store structure

Regent's Crescent

London is full of fascinating history, and there is still much untouched by the modern world. When working on our project, Regent’s Crescent, it was discovered that a forgotten 18th century structure existed beneath the surface.

During the Victorian era, acquiring ice was no easy task, and for the aristocracy of London, it had to be shipped in from Norway and stored in ‘ice houses’ located on their property. Underneath Regent’s Crescent, a huge Ice House was uncovered by archaeologists. This cavern from 1780 was used to store ice throughout the 18th and 19th century.

The project was previously backfilled in the 1960s, and developments built around the ‘Ice House’ were constructed with shallow foundations which in turn increased the stress on the walls of the existing ‘Ice House’ beneath the surface. The foundations of the developments would not have been known to affect the Ice House structure at the time, due to the limited capability to analyse the site in great detail.

As part of our work on Regent’s Crescent, we provided an assessment of the ‘Ice House’ structure, as well as being tasked with the removal of rubble and ‘expose’ the Ice House in order for Historic England to access and record the 18th century structure.

Our assessment included an analysis of the stresses in the structure, through cutting-edge ground stress analysis tools, to analyse the damage caused by the surrounding developments. The AKT II team working on Regent’s Crescent also analysed the potential effects that demolition, excavation and the proposed construction would have on the Ice House structure below.

Post assessment, and after the approval of designs by Historic England, we were able to begin working on removing the debris that had been used to fill the structure previously. There was a concern that the quality of the bricks would have been affected by the debris. Fortunately, the brickwork was in excellent condition and the debris was successfully removed from the Ice House.

To ensure the preservation of the Ice House, we looked at ways to reduce the overall weight of the structure. Utilising CLT (cross laminated timber) panels for the floor construction, as opposed to traditional concrete, meant the overall weight was reduced by 65% minimising the risk of potential damage to Ice House.

The Ice House lives on beneath Regent’s Crescent, serving as a part of London’s rich history.

You can read more about our project on the Regent’s Crescent project page.