The Ice Cream trade provided a living for many Italian families from their poor and meagre lodgings they plied their trade. The hours were long, the rewards were few but it was away of life to many Italians Immigrants.
Sheffield in the 1800's was home to quite a few theatres and music halls, this provided a good place for the vendors to sell their wares.
Through the years they progressed from pushing wooden barrows to aquiring horse drawn carts and later to motorised vans.
In the 1800's the ice cream street vendors were often refered to as the "Hokey Pokey" men. They are many thoughts as to where this name came from the most plausable seem to be that it was derived from the vendors themselves. To attract people attention they would shout " Ecco un Poco" (Italian for here is a little) we assume this reffered to the price and not the quantity or the quality.
There are still quite a few ice cream Companies in Sheffield that evolved from the humble dwellings in West Bar, passed through the generations, their names became famous as their ices.
Cuneos established in 1864 is the oldest Ice Cream Company in the Yorkshire & Derbyshire area.
Luigge (Louis) Cuneo the founder of the Company was an Italian immigrant that came to England with his brother in search of a better life.
Luigge (Louis) and his family were one of the early Italian families in the area and they were to leave a lasting impression on the community as a whole.
Luigge Cuneo over the years was a wheelwright, a barrel organ tuner and no doubt he had also started out as a street musician/organ grinder in his early days in Sheffield. All this was to change when he decided to sell Ice Cream. So was born Cuneo's Ices.
Through the years the ways of plying their trade has changed but the Company has soldered on. The changes to the way ice cream was made due to modern machinery and time/labour saving devices. In the late 18 & early 1900 as the business grew the Cuneo family would employ other Italian immigrants and their families to help with the making and selling of the ice cream. It is possible that they may have used the 'padrone system' to get employees.
In the early days the ice cream would be transported and sold from wooden handcarts, as time went by and the business grew the transportation progressed to horse/pony drawn carts and later to motorised vehicles.
The Cuneo family had a shop in Devonshire Street, it was owned by the family for over hundred years, known as the Ice Cream Saloon, it was the first place in Sheffield to house an American Soda Fountain. It was commonplace for domino's and cards to be played in the back of the shop, usually this would be for shop checkers (not money). The checkers could only be spent in the shop, but not exchanged for cash thus ensuring the business benefited from these games. Slot machines were also brought in to amuse the customers but all this came to an end when the new gaming laws were brought out and gaming regulations set in place.
The shop window was usually filled with boiled sweets pear drops etc, (these were also made by the family).
For a long time there was only one family in the area that made and sold cones/cornets, the Buffaloro Family.
The Buffaloro family (again an Italian immigrant family) supplied all the local ice cream sellers for quite a few years. It was usual to see the cone/cornets being made when collecting orders.
Ice Cream wasn't the only business the Cuneo's had they ran a public house and also a boarding house. We are told (if the stories are true) that metal hooks were fitted in the floor in the cellars to tether the 'dancing bears' that were brought over to England with various visiting bands.
Dennis Cuneo still runs the family business. Born in Copper Street the grandson of Luigge Cuneo was the only child from his fathers second marriage. From humble beginning grew a lasting business that would leave it's mark on the area for a long time to come.
The Italian Ice Cream Vendors
Anginotti, Buffalero Brothers, Joseph & Clara Canetti, Jess Carolis, Di Carlo,
Antonio & Anne Cassinelli, Louis Cuneo, Nicholas & Andrew Cuneo,
Antonio Fantozzi, Francisco Fantozzi, Alfonso Franchitti, Augustino Franchitti,
Giacmantonio Franchitti, Grannelli Brothers, Slavis, Peter Angelina Grannelli,
Antonio, Maria Grannelli, Angelo & Joseph Manfredi, Matthew Manfredi,
Domenico & Venceza Marzella, Dominico, Maria & Philomena Marzella,
Lewis Massarella, Pietro & Paolo Micceli, Antonio, Antomia & Angelo Molinari,
Nocci, Domenico Paggiossi, Francesco Reale, Oreste Reale, Domenico Rebori,
Sanella, Giovanni Starbori,
For more than a century, it has refreshed travellers on the Great North Road, but now Anty Richards has stopped serving, apparently for good.
It is, in Darlington at least, the end of an era of Italian ice cream. Most 20th Century generations of Darlingtonians were brought up amid the cafes and barrows belonging to exotic sounding people such as Iannarelli, Diplo, De Luca, Rea, Martino and, of course, Anty Richards.
Anty was born Angelo Rissetto in Sheffield at Christmas 1868. When he was just a tot, his parents, Domenico and Maria, returned home to Italy, to Lavagna, near Genoa, then a poor fishing village on the Italian Riviera.
In 1882, Domenico – who described himself as a musician and farmer – and Maria decided to give a new life in a new country a second go, and returned to England. Quite where is unknown, but in 1892 Angelo was married in St Margaret’s Church, York. His bride was Jane Moore, of nearby Speculation Street, and their first child, Albert, was born in the city in 1899.
Soon after, Angelo, Jane and Albert moved to Darlington, and took a confectionery shop in Westbrook Buildings, in Northgate. This gargoyle-encrusted building, topped with a huge Angel of the Nativity, was the fantastical work of stonemason Robert Borrowdale, one of this column’s heroes.
Like all good Italians, the Rissettos made their own ice cream. They had a factory tucked away in a wall behind Westbrook Villas. Early in the morning, Icy Smith would deliver large slabs of ice from his factory on Stonebridge. The Rissettos – as time went by augmented by young Frederico and Cecilia – broke up the ice by hand and packed it with salt around the outside of an ice cream container. Angelo poured fresh milk and broke fresh eggs into a metal pail. He whisked in custard powder, corn flour, butter, cream and two drops of vanilla essence until the mixture was too stiff to pour from the pail. Then it was boiled up before being ladled into the ice cream container surrounded by ice. Inside the container were a couple of blades. As the ice cream froze, Angelo would rotate the container so that the blades sliced up the frozen ice cream. “I can still remember the smell of vanilla at the factory,” says Anne Bethal, Albert’s daughter. “It was absolutely gorgeous.” From the factory, the ice cream was cycled all over the town and surrounding villages.
Further afield, to places including Cleasby, Melsonby, Bowes and Barningham, Angelo took it on Bobby, his piebald horse.
THE First World War was not easy for Angelo.
Albert had a thumb bayoneted off while serving in the Durham Light Infantry on the Somme, and Angelo would have come under suspicion for being foreign. His friend, Atiglio Giacinto, whom he had taught the confectioner’s trade in Westbrook Buildings, had set up shop in Shildon’s Main Street. Atiglio fought in France with the East Yorkshire Regiment, but such was the suspicion of his Italian background that his wife, Norah – a Shildon lass – had to report every day to Darlington police station, carrying their baby. Perhaps it was because of this that after the war, Angelo Rissetto decided to Anglicise his name. His customers had always struggled to wrap their tongues around his Italian syllables, and had taken to calling him Anty Richard. So he started trading as Anty Richard’s Superior Ices.
In 1928, he moved over the road into the premises that still bear his name – although the apostrophe has disappeared. He put a silver coin under the doorstep to draw the money in.
Angelo died in 1931.