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Former Ice Works

A Grade II Listed Building in Newlyn, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1052 / 50°6'18"N

Longitude: -5.5494 / 5°32'57"W

OS Eastings: 146299

OS Northings: 28822

OS Grid: SW462288

Mapcode National: GBR DXPD.LVP

Mapcode Global: VH05H.RMM7

Plus Code: 9C2P4F42+37

Entry Name: Former Ice Works

Listing Date: 7 July 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1447140

Location: Penzance, Cornwall, TR18

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Penzance

Built-Up Area: Newlyn

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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An ice works of 1907, constructed within an earlier granite building and with later alterations.


An ice works of 1907 constructed within an earlier building by R Richard Bath and possibly including a quay wall, with later adaptations.

MATERIALS: rubble granite of different phases with dressed granite quoins and window heads, and slate cills. There are red brick additions to the south. The roofs are covered in slate.

PLAN: the main granite structure is rectangular on plan and of three storeys with a double pitched roof of raised height at the south-west corner. The brick additions to the south are irregular on plan and stand across a variety of heights up to three storeys.

EXTERIOR: the road front to the Strand is two broad bays wide under twin gables with irregularly-spaced window openings across the elevation. To the left, large granite blocks of the former quay wall have had a door inserted and the wall has been incorporated into the 1907 brick additions that extend across the south elevation of the building along the former quay edge. The brick additions have varied openings including two double doors under segmental brick arches, and some parts were raised in height and otherwise altered in the 1970s. The north flank and west end elevations have fewer openings with a double width door on the ground floor (east end of the north flank) and window openings to the third floor. The roofs have ventilators and finials at the gable apexes.

INTERIOR: not inspected, however photographs of 2013 show extant Linde ice production machinery of 1907 date. This includes a steam powered compressor on the ground floor, which was later converted to electricity. Other equipment still in place includes hoists; winch gear; a crusher; refrigeration tanks; and timber chutes. An extensive network of hoses supplied the water to the top of the building and the ‘drops’ used in the ice-making process. There is also flake ice making machinery of 1980s date.


The early historic core of Newlyn lies around the C15 harbour pier and walls of Old Quay (Grade II*), however after the late-C16 Spanish raid on the town there was much rebuilding. Around this time farmland to the north, in an area known as Street-an-Nowan, was gradually built over with fish cellars and other buildings and Gwavas Quay became the focal point of activity. The settlement doubled in size and Newlyn became contiguous with neighbouring Tolcarne with Jackford in the C17.

In the C18 and C19 the port expanded further around this industrialised area, which provided the crossing point across the River Newlyn to Penzance. Wagons and other traffic accessed the port via a track across the beach in front of Gwavas Quay. The track is shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1878, along with the quay wall and the building that later became the ice works. This large building was possibly a warehouse connected with the adjacent quay. The construction of the South Pier and North Pier in the 1880s and 1890s saw further development in the area and by the early C20 it was decided that the connection to the port from the north needed to be improved. A new stretch of road, to be called the Strand, was built to link Fore Street and a new bridge and was finished in 1908. Although the Strand is not shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1908, the new brick buildings of the refurbished ice works are marked. The Strand aided the supply of ice from the works to the fishing vessels and a new fish market, although it also enclosed the quay. Gwavas Quay was eventually infilled and cultivated as a public open space.

The ice works was opened in 1907 by R Richard Bath to supplement his other industrial buildings located nearby in The Coombe. The building appears to have been raised in height prior to the C20 adaption (a change in granite type at first-floor level is visible) and the brick additions to the south elevation are of 1907 date and later. The building was fitted out with the Linde System of refrigeration and ice manufactory, which was used in the production of ‘nub’ ice for the supply of the local fishing industry. In the 1970s the ice works was bought by W Stevenson and Sons of Newlyn, at which time a number of alterations and repairs were made to the building. In the late 1980s additional plant was installed to produce flake ice, which had become the preferred type in the industry. The works closed in 2005/6 at which time a scheme to convert it into a business hub was considered, but not brought forward. Currently (2017) the building is unoccupied.

Reasons for Listing

Architectural interest:
* For its striking yet functional design and character as a landmark feature central to this fishing community;
* For the use of distinctive coarse granite materials including the immense stone blocks of the former quay wall and deep exterior walls to enhance the building’s performance as an ice works;
* The survival of complete ice-making machinery of two phases (early and mid-C20) within an otherwise unaltered layout, including water drops, is extremely rare.

Historic interest:
* For how it illustrates an important component of the expanding industrialised early-C20 fishing industry and how these purpose-built structures often utilised earlier buildings and structures with a related function;
* The ice works site and the adjacent Gwavas Quay were the focal point of the pilchard industry in Newlyn from the C17 to the C20, which was made famous by the works of the Newlyn School of artists from the late C19.

Group value:
* For its contribution to the historic Street-an-Nowan quarter of Newlyn, and relationship to other listed buildings.

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