Refrigeration at Home Timeline

Early refrigeration used ice to keep food cool. Ice Houses buried in cities and country estates were used to store ice into the summer. Vast quantities of ice were shipped from North America and Norway.


In 1755 William Cullen, in his laboratory in Glasgow University, was one of the first scientists to develop a mechanical means to produce ice.


In 1835 Jacob Perkins patented a machine to produce the cooling or freezing of fluids. Artificial ice-making began to be more widespread and the price and quality of the product meant that ice became much more widely used as a means of preserving foods such as fish. But it was hard to keep up with demand.


In the 1850s Mechanical refrigeration began to take off. Industrialists were able to acquire refrigerating machines, which could cool or freeze items more cheaply and more easily.


In the early 1900s the manufacture of domestic and small commercial refrigerators (which were often used in shops) began to take off, particularly in the USA.


During the 1950s Refrigerators started to become affordable for most households in the UK. In 1959 around 13% of homes had a refrigerator. By 1970 this was up to 58%.


Today 97% of all homes have a refrigerator, and most shops, offices, hospitals use refrigerators and freezers.


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