Inside the Glaciarium, 1876
Illustrated London News, 13 May 1876.
In 1876 the wonderfully named Glaciarum was opened on the King’s Road in Chelsea, based on the work of a John Gamgee (1831-1894) who had designed a floor allowing for the circulation of ‘freezing liquid’ to cool the ice, made up of a mixture of glycerine and water. Apparently ‘several noblemen and gentlemen – members of the London Skating Club’ could be seen ‘skating with expressed satisfaction’. Similar experiments continued to be undertaken and let to the opening of further relatively short-lived indoor rinks in the late 19th century. In January 1895 a hall in Westminster which had depicted a panorama of ‘Niagara in Winter’ was converted into an ice rink where skaters were accompanied by Mr Edward Solomon’s ‘first-class orchestra’.
More permanent structures only seem to have been available from the late 1920s. The ‘Pictorial and Descriptive Guide to London’ published in 1935 lists ‘real ice’ rinks at Golders Green, Hammersmith, Streatham, Bayswater and Richmond. According to an article in The Yorkshire Post of 2 May 1936, ‘it was the opening of the Ice Club in 1927 which began the present boom in indoor skating’. The London Ice Club was inaugurated with a special dinner on 14 January 1927. The venue at John Islip Street (near what is now Tate Britain) was a private members club, requiring an annual subscription on top of the entrance fees. In 1936 the purpose-built premises were re-christened Westminster Ice Rink and opened to the public.