Monday, February 7, 2011

HOW ICE CAME TO INDIA 1833-"How this ice make grow in your country? Him grow on tree? Him grow on shrub - how he make grow?"asked Indians at calcutta and Bombay harbour

In 1833, fellow Boston-based merchant Samuel Austin proposed a partnership for selling ice to India, then some 16,000 miles and four months away from Massachusetts. On May 12, 1833 the brig Tuscany sailed from Boston for Calcutta, its hold filled with 180 tons of ice cut during the winter. When it approached the Ganges in September 1833, many believed the delivery was an elaborate joke, but the ship still had 100 tons of ice upon arrival. Over the next 20 years, Calcutta would become Tudor's most lucrative destination, yielding an estimated $220,000 in profits.
 People thought Tudor was crazy when he first began sending ice to different parts of the world, but hewas actually very smart. The first place he sent ice was the West Indies. That was in 1805.The difference was that he harvested his crop while the land farmers were huddling about their firesides.
-SEEN AS A WHITE  ROUND HOUSE AND A WHITE ROUND ROOF.The ice-house was a double-shelled structure,twenty-five feet square on its outside dimension, nineteen feet square on the interior, and sixteen feet high. It held about 150 tons of ice. ICE WAS  HARVESTED FROM PLACES  NEAR TO THE NORTH POLE AND FROZEN LAKES.,BROUGHT BY SHIP AND KEPT FOR USE.[ ELECTRICITY /REFRIGERATON NOT YET DISCOVERED].

Once inside, the blocks were piled together as closely as possible to prevent all unnecessary meltage. The workmen in the ice-houses pried loose the stored ice by means of chisels.Wenham Lake ice enjoyed its greatest popularity in England between the year 1844 and the early years of the 185o's. It was in demand everywhere, and it grew into such vogue that London hotels put up signs informing their customers that Wenham Lake ice was served there.Main customers were the local coffee-house owners who bought the ice for the manufacture of their ice-creams.

It was meant to store ice and hence it got its popular name, the Ice House.Mr. Frederic Tudor, the 'Ice King', built three houses in Kolkata , Mumbai and Chennai to keep ice under proper insulation so that it could be stored for months together. Amongst the three buildings the one at Chennai alone stands today. It was built in the year 1842. Tudor maintained his business in Chennai from 1842 upto around 1880. After the invention of making ice by 'steam process' in India, his business collapsed.Then the Ice House was sold to Mr.Biligiri Iyengar, a prosperous advocate of the Madras High Court. He remodeled the house adding circular verandahs and provided it with many windows to make it fit as residential quarters. Also he named the house 'Castle Kernan,' as a tribute to his friend, the famous Justice Kernan of the Madras High Court. Apart from being his residential quarters, this house served as a shelter for poor and educationally backward students. The structure failed as a residence, probably because of inadequate ventilation.Swami Vivekananda's Visit
Castle Kernan acquired historical and cultural value after Swami Vivekananda's stay there. Swami Vivekananda came to Tamil Nadu twice: first as an unknown wandering monk (December 1892 to April 1893) and then as the famous Swami Vivekananda, after his appearance at the Chicago Parliament of Religions and successful preaching work in the West.

As early as 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice throughout the summer months.  The ice was brought in from the mountains during the winter and stored in large, specially designed, naturally cooled underground “refrigerators” with six-foot thick walls of special insulating mortar.  This ancient practice of harvesting ice was the beginning of what was to become, during the 19th century, a major commercial enterprise here in New England.

Ice blocks (also called "cakes") are manually placed into reefers from a covered icing dock. Each block weighed between 200 pounds (91 kg) to 400 pounds (180 kg). Crushed ice was typically used for meat cars
                                                STORY OF ICE IN INDIA:-
Frederic Tudor
The "Ice King" of the World 1830

Before the 19th century, ice was a commodity available only to the very rich and to those who could harvest it themselves.  All that changed as the ice harvesting industry became increasingly mechanized and new technologies were developed that allowed more people to enjoy the benefits of ice year round

Most of the vessels mentioned in shipping histories as having carried ice, however, belonged to the Tudor Company...One of the most important features of the trade between Boston and Indian ports was the length of the voyages. Obviously, the shorter the voyage could be made, the less ice would melt on the way. Generally, when cargoes, other than ice, were sent to India, merchants were not particularly concerned with the length of the outward leg of the voyage, but were more interested in the length of time required to sail to Boston from India. With a cargo of ice, however, the interest in voyage lengths was reversed, with the outward leg being the most important. An analysis of the times recorded by twenty-five ships making a total of thirty-six voyages from Calcutta to Boston shows that the average run was 102.5 days, with a record of eighty-one days made by the Witch of the Waves
ICE WAGON 1860The first evidence of a commercial ice operation on Jamaica Pond is found on an inset of an 1855 map of Suffolk County showing the E.M. Stoddard and Company Ice Company owning a row of icehouses near the modern day rotary at Jamaicaway and Prince Street. 


Jamaica Plain showing ice houses on Jamaica Pond.1850

In 1833, he determined to try a enterprising venture, and, accordingly, he dispatched 200 tons of ice to Calcutta on the ship Tuscany;from U.S.A.
Indians saw ice for the first time in 1833 and asked "does it grow on the tree"

One of the first of the shipments to India, made by Captain Codman in the ship Nantasket, brought disbelief and amazement to the large crowd of natives gathered at the wharf to witness the unloading of these
"crystal blocks of Yankee coldness."
One of the Indians braved to touch a piece of the ice, and, believing that he had burned himself, wrapped his hand in his robe and rushed away followed by a number of the alarmed onlookers. At another time, a native was supposed to have asked Captain Codman,
"How this ice make grow in your country? Him grow on tree? Him grow on shrub - how he make grow?"

A Calcutta historian, in speaking of the ice, eulogised, "I will not talk of nectar or Elysium, but I will say that if there be a luxury here, it is this - it is this. ... A block of pure ice weighing 2 maunds," he continued, "was a sight Calcutta had never seen before."35 The only ice that had ever before been seen in Calcutta was a Hooghly-Plain ooze made by skimming surface ice from water in unglazed pots placed overnight in reed-lined pits.
Do you recall Rudyard Kipling's story entitled "The Undertakers" from the Second Jungle Book?
The block of ice is stored
"From the insides of this boat they were taking out great pieces of white stuff, which, in a little while, turned to water. Much split off, and fell about on the shore, and the rest they swiftly put into a house with thick walls. But a boatman, who laughed, took a piece no larger than a small dog, and threw it to me. I - of all people - swallowed without reflection, and that piece I swallowed as is our custom. Immediately I was afflicted with an excessive cold which, beginning in my crop, ran down to the extreme end of my toes, and deprived me even of speech, while the boatmen laughed at me. Never have I felt such cold. I danced in my grief and amazement till I could recover my breath, and then I danced and cried out against the falseness of this world; and the boatmen derided me till they fell down. The chief wonder of the matter, setting aside the marvellous coldness, was that there was nothing at all in my crop when I had finished my lamentings."

Harvesting ice on the Hudson river in the 1870s From American Pictures Drawn With Pen And Pencil by Rev Samuel Manning circa 1880

The Adjutant had done his very best to describe his feelings after swallowing a seven-pound lump of Wenham Lake ice, off an American ice-ship, in the days before Calcutta made her ice by machinery, . .

Once the ice had frozen thickly, all porous ice and snow on the top surface was removed by means of a horse-drawn plane or scraper.
  An acre of foot-thick ice yielded about 1000 tons of rough ice

Scraping Off the Snow

Planing Off the "Snow Ice"

Marking the Ice for Plowing (plow is upside down in background)

Sawing and "Barring Off" the Floats

All Operations Going on at Once - Spy Pond Cambridge, Massachusetts



Year Amount (tons)

1806 .......... 130

1816......... 1,200
1826 .........4,000
1836 .......12,000
1856..... 146,000
1860 .....142,463
1865 .....131,275
1866 .....124,751
1872 .......69,500 (approx.)
1873 .......70,370
1874 ...... 69,800

The following list of ships represents some of those known to have been engaged in the ice trade at one time or another:

Arabella - 696 tons. Made several trips - Boston to Bombay, Calcutta and return - 17 July 1853 to 4 Oct. 1854. Took 141 days from Boston to Bombay. Boston to Madras, Calcutta and return -29 Nov. 1854 to (ca.) 23 Nov. 1855. Outward cargoes of ice, return cargoes of saltpetre, cow hides, gunny bags, jute, cloth, goatskins, shellac, dye, linseed.87

Coringa - Re rigged as a bark in 1874 and chartered by the Tudor Company for a cargo of ice for Calcutta.88

Elizabeth Kimball - Medium clipper, built at Marble head in1853. The maiden voyage was a round trip between Boston and Calcutta with an outward cargo of ice.89
Harmonia - Carried ice to the East Indies for the Tudor Company.90
Iceburg - 1135 tons, built for the Tudor Company and shipped ice for several years before she was sold. Launched in i877.91
Iceking - Launched a few weeks after the Iceburg for the Tudor Company.92
Iceland - Launched a few months after the Ice king for the Tudor Company. In March 1878 she was listed as missing.93

National Eagle - Medium clipper, 1095 tons. After 1854 made frequent trips to India with ice. This was one of the best known of the ice ships.94
Reporter - Medium clipper. In 1854 was chartered by Gage, Hittinger & Co. to take ice to New Orleans.95
Springfield - Launched in 1868, 1043 tons. Took ice to Bombay on her maiden voyage96.

White Swallow - Left Boston in 1871 for Hong Kong with 1015 tons of Tudor ice. 19 days later was abandoned at sea.97

Young Mechanic - 1375 tons. In 1865 chartered by the Tudor Co. to take ice to Madras and Calcutta. Again chartered in 1866, but ship caught fire and was destroyed.98

Ice was so prized by the English inhabitants of India that its importation was encouraged as much as possible by special treatment of the ice ships. At Bombay, for example, "The only port charges on Ice ships are tonnage dues and police fees, and you get the best berth in the harbor."99 The port charges amounted to a pilot age fee of 110 Rupees during the southwest monsoon. During the north east monsoon, the charge was 55 Rupees for vessels over 500 tons. The lighthouse dues amounted to 15 Rupees per 100 tons, the tonnage duty was one Anna per ton, and the police fees were ten Rupees, two an.100 One Rupee was worth about 5o cents.101

At Madras, ice was to be found among the list of articles admitted duty-free. In fact, it was the fifth article on the list, the first two being: i) Bullion and Coin, and 2) Precious Stones and Pearls.102

As at Calcutta, Frederick Tudor was given a twenty year lease beginning in 1845 on the Madras ice-house, which was open every day during the daylight hours and for a few hours on Sunday morning.103 Madras preserved her ice-house longer than did Calcutta. According to the Calcutta historian,

Today [1907] the visitor will search in vain in Hare Street for the strangely-shaped globular building which stood perched on the summit of a flight of steps and challenged the attention of every passer-by. It was razed to the ground in 1882, and even the memories of the murder committed within its walls have faded away. Madras still preserves the shell of her ice-house. Calcutta has been more iconoclastic, and not a vestige remains of the once familiar structure in which for nearly fifty years she hoarded her precious frozen blocks from Wenham Lake.104

A curious sideline of the ice-trade to India was that New England Baldwin apples were often shipped in barrels among the blocks of ice. The clipper Elizabeth Kimball shipped such apples with her cargo of ice, for in India apples found such a large market among the English population that they were sold for fifty to seventy-five cents apiece.105

By the early 1850'$, Wenham Lake ice ceased to be shipped overseas, and the trade consisted mainly of the local markets and those found along the southern coasts of the United States. Throughout the years, ice from small lakes like Wenham Lake had made a deep impression abroad. When Edward Everett was minister to the Court of St. James in London, he once met the Ambassador from Persia who expressed his gratitude to America for shipping ice to Persia.106 The amount of ice shipped from Wenham was enormous and understandably created false ideas as to the size of the lake.

Between the years 1856 and 1882, 353,450 tons of ice had been shipped out; about 475,000 had actually been cut, but the 121,550 ton difference was accounted for by the ice lost from scraping and meltage. The average yearly amount of ice cut from Wenham Lake from 1860 to 1880 had been thirty thousand tons a year.

in 1873, a fire originating in the hay packing around the ice destroyed all of the buildings.

By the time of the fire, artificial means of refrigeration were beginning to be used, and losses such as those sustained on Wenham Lake made competition increasingly difficult. The business around Wenham Lake never entirely recovered.

ice was cut on Wenham Lake for the Wenham, Beveriy and Salem markets well into the present century. The last of the ice-houses on the lake, that of the Metropolitan-Wenham Lake Ice Company, on the North Beveriy shore, finally disappeared around the time of World War II.

Dunedin, the first commercially successful refrigerated ship. James Harrison began operation of a mechanical ice-making machine in 1851 on the banks of the Barwon River at Rocky Point in Geelong, Victoria. His first commercial ice-making machine followed in 1854 and his patent for an ether liquid-vapour compression refrigeration system was granted in 1855. Harrison introduced commercial vapor-compression refrigeration to breweries and meat packing houses, and by 1861 a dozen of his systems were in operation.


The first gas absorption refrigeration system using gaseous ammonia dissolved in water (referred to as "aqua ammonia") was developed by Ferdinand Carré of France in 1859 and patented in 1860. Due to the toxicity of ammonia, such systems were not developed for use in homes, but were used to manufacture ice for sale. In the United States, the consumer public at that time still used the ice box with ice brought in from commercial suppliers, many of whom were still harvesting ice and storing it in an icehouse.


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