Tree cutters help preserve Helmsdale’s iconic icehouse

Tree cutters from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN Distribution) put their skills and equipment to good use prior to the latest coronavirus restrictions,  helping to cut away trees that were threatening to damage the iconic 196yr-old icehouse in Helmsdale. 

Sitting on the river’s edge in Helmsdale village centre, the icehouse was built in 1824 and was originally used for the preserving and packing of salmon. The cavernous structure stretches back deep under what is now the village football pitch, with the grass originally making for better insulation of all the contents inside.

Garbh Allt Community Initiative, custodians of the historic building, were becoming concerned that the roots of trees close to the icehouse could potentially be causing it long-lasting structural damage, and so began asking in the local community if anyone had the skills and equipment to help.

Jonathan Langlois from Garbh Allt Community Initiative takes up the story: 

“Following a discussion with our board of directors, we put a call out to the local community, and we were really encouraged by the interest Gavin and Chris from SSEN took in our project. As they’re both local residents, it’s great to see them coming forward to lend their support to such an important project.

“The icehouse is a B-listed building, and clearing the trees away is an important step in our work to preserve and protect it, and having the support of SSEN has been really fantastic.”

 Gavin Ogilvie, a surveyor with SSEN’s Tree Cutting department, said:

“After I got the call from Jonathan, I had a look over the area and the evaluated the work that was required; following a chat with my manager, I was able to enlist the help of my two colleagues Chris and Calum, as well as all of the equipment we needed to safely carry out the work. 

“When I was surveying the job it soon became apparent that there was going to be a lot of wood coming down, and so we also arranged for all the larger branches to be sawn into logs for the local community to use on their fires. I’ve lived up here for seven years now, and it feels great to be able to support the local community with such an interesting and important part of Helmsdale’s history.”

To learn more about the work and Helmsdale’s icehouse, click on the above image to watch a short video featuring interviews with Jonathan and Chris, as well as footage from the tree cutting on the day.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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