The Alva ice house lies just to the south of Alva House stables.

The house, which no longer stands, sits on an estate which was sold in 1775 to John Johnstone by the then owner James Erskine.

In 1789, Johnstone commissioned renowned architects Robert and James Adams to improve the property although the grand plans did not come to fruition.

When his son James Raymond Johnstone inherited the property in 1795, he decided to extend the west wing to accommodate his 16 children, and at the same time he built staff accommodation, stables and an ice house. Building took place sometime between 1805 and 1820.

In the 19th century, having ice was a sign of opulence and estate owners who had an ice house could impress their guests by serving delicacies such as fruit sorbet or by having carved ice sculptures displayed on the dinner table.

The ice house at Alva consisted of a large stone built subterranean heptagonal main outer chamber with a mortar floor containing six recesses with stone shelves allowing for the storage of meat, fish, poultry and fresh fruit and vegetables which extended their shelf life.

A dome roof was then carefully built with a central iron hatch allowing the ice to be lowered into the inner chamber. The inner chamber was likely to have had a drainage system to channel away any meltwater.

A low-arched brick roof was built over the entrance and entrance corridor then covered with rubble and mortar and sealed with a layer of clay to waterproof it. Once dry the entire structure was buried with soil.

Three doors were installed to maintain the required low temperature and dry environment within the chamber for the ice. These well sealed doors were located at the front entrance and at the inner and outer chambers.

Unfortunately soon after completion, part of the corridor subsided resulting in cracks appearing at the outer wall, roof and floor. This meant additional support was required and careful repair of the roof was necessary.

It is thought much of the ice delivered to the Alva estate was shipped over from Scandinavia in large blocks.

There is generally no access to the chamber today but its remains can be clearly seen and a nearby information board has been installed by the Ochils Landscape Partnership.

The Alva ice house will be open to the public this Sunday (September 24) as part of Doors Open Days.