Recollections  -  Edinburgh

Granton Ice Works

1950s - 1980




Forbes Wilson

near Guildford, Surrey, England

From 1960s

Thank you to Forbes Wilson formerly from Edinburgh, now living near Guildford, Surrey, England, and his father for providing the following details of Granton Ice Works.

Forbes' father, John Forbes Wilson, was the Factory Engineer from 1965-66, then the Factory Manager from 1966 to 1980 at the West Shore Road ice works.

He was also the Factory Manager of the ice works at Granton Harbour, Middle Pier from 1966 until their closure in the early-'70's.

Forbes wrote:

Middle Pier

"Granton Ice Company (GIC) had ice works on the Middle Pier at Granton Harbour."

Granton Ice Works  c.1960

    Granton Ice Works,  Middle Pier, Granton Harbour  -  Ice on the conveyor belt  

Middle Pier  -  2002

    Edinburgh Waterfront  -  Middle Pier  -  19 August 2002

"These ice works continued to operate until the early-1970s when demand for ice started to fall."

West Shore Road

"GIC also had ice works on West Shore Road, immediately in front of the gas works. 

Their original ice works at West Shore Road closed around 1950 and a new ice works there in 1952.  This new plant continued to operate until 1980."

Ice Works - 1952

      The crane operator at the newly opened ice works, West Shore Road, Granton  -  April 22, 1952

West Shore Road  -  2004

     Edinburgh Waterfront  -  The Firth of Forth  -  view from West Shore Road


Ice for Trawlers

"On the Middle Pier the ice was crushed and fed directly into the trawlers via the hoist and conveyor system.

The West Shore Road factory was built primarily to supply ice to the trawlers in Anstruther, Pittenweem, Port Seton and Eyemouth.

New Factory

"The new GIC facility opened on the West Shore Road in 1952, immediately adjacent to, and to the east of, the old factory.  The new facility produced 112 tons daily to meet the growing demand of the Scottish fishing fleet immediately following WW2.

Each block of ice weighed 2cwt with 36 ice pans in one row. The ice was produced by immersing the pans in a brine solution chilled to -5 centigrade. The cooling plant for the compressors was at the back of the West Shore Road factory and was dwarfed by the gasometers."

Gasometers  -  2002

   Edinburgh Waterfront  -  Three Gasometers  -  19 August 2002

Packing and Delivery

"The pans took approximately 24hrs to freeze, then lifted, thawed in a tank of water, lifted again and tilted such that the ice slid down onto the platform ready to be fed into the crushers, bagged by a hoist and chute system, then loaded onto the lorries to be taken to Croans, Devlins and to Eyemouth for the FMA (Fisherman's Mutual Association), Burgen and Marshalls."

Ice Cubes for Drinks

"In the late-1960s, my father saw the potential for selling ice cubes to the catering, pubs and drinks industry - quite a visionary, selling ice cubes in Scotland!

So he started this as part of the GIC operation in 1970.  Demand very quickly outstripped supply and at its peak we had 6 machines producing nearly 10cwt of cubes per day. 

During my summer breaks from school and university I used to work there, loading the lorries, feeding the crushers and bagging the ice cubes. I recall those lorries, sometimes up to a dozen, waiting for us at 0700hrs, to take ice as far as Mallaig and Ullapool."

Names Remembered

"Names my father and I recall at the GIC included Dick Angus, Mathew Mant, Tommy Connelly, John Jackson and Mr Dunningham, Factory Manager at West Shore Road in the 1950s;  he retired in 1966."

Forbes Wilson, near Guildford, Surrey, England:  August 26, 2006




John Stevenson


Thank you to John Stevenson, Trinity, Edinburgh, who wrote:


"Boy !  Do these photos not just bring memories flooding back !!!!!!!

Thanks so much !"


"I can remember these plants well.

They both had ammonia machines for making the ice and,  boy, did it clear your head when you passed by and got a whiff !!"

John D Stevenson:  Trinity, Edinburgh:  August 29 + September 2, 2006




Walter Lyle Hume

Cowes, Isle of Wight, England

Thank you to Walter Lyle Hume, Cowes, Isle of Wight, who wrote;

Middle Pier

"The only Ice House I knew was a large brick building half way down, on the west side of  the middle pier.

It was a natural attraction to many Sunday strollers, standing at the half-door and watching the huge steam engine, similar to the kind fitted to paddle ships, turning a massive flywheel which drove a belt-driven dynamo to power the ice-plant.  The engine room was spotless."

Walter Lyle Hume, Cowes, Isle of Wight, England: September 2, 2006




Comments From

Thomas Rintoul

Thank you to Thomas Rintoul who wrote:


"I have been looking at the photos of Granton Ice Works.

They bring back some distant memories of the late-1950s and early 1960s.

Ice blocks leaving the old Granton Ice Factory  -  pre-1952

Journey to Edinburgh

"I remember, vividly, leaving Pittenweem early in the morning on one of Bonthrone's lorries from Anstruther and getting the frist ferry from North Queensferry across he Forth, then down to the ice factory."

Loading the Ice

"The ice blocks were unloaded from the freezer and put through the crusher, then the crushed ice was bagged and loaded onto the lorry.

There was a knack in loading - one bag was placed in the middle at the headboard, two on the outside rails and a further two placed tightly between the middle and outside bags.  This would continue for two or three rows, and then a second tier would be loaded.  So it continued until the lorry was full, probably about 7 or 8 tons."

Return to Fife

"The lorry was then sheeted and roped, and we then made our way back to South Queensferry to get the ferry back to the other side.  Ice was then delivered to fish merchants and to the boats at St Monans, Pittenweem and Anstruther

I believe that the man in charge was called Matt."

Thomas added


Photos from the 1950s and 1960s

"I'm looking for photographs of lorries from the 1950s and 1960s, loading up with ice.  It doesn't matter whether they are from the Fife coast or from the Lothians.  All will be of interest."

Thomas Rintoul: March 24, 2009


Can you suggest where Thomas might be able to find any photos of lorries loading with ice?  If so, please let me know, then I'll pass on your message to him.

Thank you.  -  Peter Stubbs:  March 26, 2009


Granton Ice Works Pictures

Granton Pictures

Recollections  -  More Pages

Recollections  -   Contributors