Keeping Cool Through the Ages

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Keeping Cool Through the Ages Written by Airway Group Team

Flicking on the air conditioning, a desk fan or even a tiny handheld fan when we get a bit hot is a luxury that we take for granted. In centuries gone by, there were no electric fans or cooling equipment to help people manage during hot days, instead they used methods that were probably technically advanced for those times, but worlds away from what we are used to now. Here, we will look at historical methods of keeping cool and how they worked.

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Water fountains

Used in the 1800s and 1900s, water fountains were the main source of cooling for people in these eras. Despite the name, they were less ‘fountains’ and more troughs full of water – people used to submerge their heads entirely to stay cool.

Ice blocks

Today, almost every freezer has an ice-cube tray in it, ready for you to make that cool drink on a Summer’s day. In the 1800s, however, they didn’t use ice cubes – they used ice blocks. People stored ice blocks for use in summer, by harvesting them from frozen lakes and then storing them in naturally cool buildings, called ‘ice-houses’.

High ceilings

To prevent rooms from becoming stuffy and uncomfortable, many homes were built with high ceilings. Today, homes with high ceilings are very desirable for their aesthetic quality, but they also serve to keep the room cool. The hot air rises higher, and escapes the room via windows near the ceiling, keeping inhabitants cool.


Sitting outside your front door in a comfy chair wasn’t just to keep an eye on your property, they were also used as some respite from the stuffy homes of the era, with people sitting outside in the evenings to cool down.

Handheld fans

Made of paper and in a fold-out, semi-circular shape, these fans were incredibly popular with the women of the Victorian era, as they were a quick and simple way of keeping cool when the sun is beating down.

As you can see, keeping cool was not as simple as flicking a switch back in the Victorian era. There were many different methods that are obviously antiquated now, but some of them laid the foundations for the cooling methods and gadgets that we use today.


From air conditioning units to bladeless fans, innovation has provided us with all manner of ways to keep cool. The small, handheld fans are still going strong, and on a much larger scale, cold rooms exist as a kind of walk-in fridge for commercial properties, that help preserve products that need to be stored in cooler temperatures.

Airway Air Conditioning are experts in the installation, repair and maintenance of a wide range of air conditioning units for commercial and domestic customers. If you would like to know more, please get in touch with us today.