This work tells the story of the 19th-century ice trade, in which ice from New England - valued for its incredible purity - had a profound influence on international trade in fruit and fish and all kinds of perishable foodstuffs.
This work tells the story of the 19th-century ice trade, in which ice from New England - valued for its incredible purity - had a profound influence on international trade in fruit and fish and all kinds of perishable foodstuffs. In the days before refrigeration, the frozen water trade (blocks of ice cut from the lakes of New England) kept America, Britain and many parts of the Empire cool - and helped preserve all kinds of foodstuffs. Although the harvesting and preserving of ice and snow had provided the very wealthy with summer luxury as far back as the civilizations of Mesopotamia in 2000 BC, it was in post-colonial North America that the domestic use of ice, kept in "refrigerator" boxes and used to cool drinks, first became truly popular. The American fashion for drinks "on the rocks" spread to Britain in Victoria's reign - and then to British India. In the 1830s, schooners carried the frozen cargo, packed with sawdust and tarpaulins for insulation, to Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. In time, New England schooners took ice to China and Australia. The frozen water trade had a profound influence on the tastes of a large part of the world and stimulated the development of artificial cooling systems which eventually replaced it in the first quarter of the 20th century.
Everybody everywhere enjoys imbibing beverages 'on the rocks' probably without ever sparing a thought about how the frozen wherewithal was achieved before the advent of artificial refrigeration. This book tells the fascinating tale of Frederic Tudor, a diminutive Bostonian of Devonshire descent, who in the early 19th century evolved the idea of transporting New England ice to the four corners of the earth to cool fevered brows, aid in the creation of ice cream and deliver a refreshing coldness to all manner of drinks. Tudor faced widespread derision, but persevered to found a vast industry. Weightman's account is excellently researched and presented, and vividly covers the total demise of a now forgotten industry.
About Gavin Weightman
Gavin Weightman is an experienced television documentary-maker (producer/director/writer), journalist and author of many books such as The Making of Modern London: 1815-1914, The Making of Modern London: 1914-1939, London River, Picture Post Britain and Rescue: A History of the British Emergency Services (Boxtree).
The Frozen Water Trade by Gavin Weightman
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