Land of Churches @ Leonella Longmore
Italians in Scotland
In common with most Scottish towns, Lossiemouth had its cafes run
by Italian Immigrants. It was a surprising fact that most immigrants had no previous
catering experience and were generally peasant farmers, mainly from the Cassino area
between Rome and Naples, who had been driven from the land by poverty.
Domenic Rizza arrived in Scotland in 1907, eventually taking over
the Clifton Road shop which had been converted from a butcher's shop into a cafe by Luigi
Zaccharini. Dom soon became one of Lossie's favourite characters, dispensing with a
quiet smile excellent ice cream in summer and hot drinks in winter. Oxo with
lashings of pepper was a particular favourite in the thirties, and generations of boys
listened to Raymond Glendenning broadcasting commentaries of the Scotland V England
internationals on Dom's radio in the back room. Dom was later to arrange for his
younger brother Gelsomino, Jimmy Rizza, to join him in Scotland.
@ D Stewart
Italians in Scotland; a concise History
@ Margaret Visser
Ice-cream has a long history in the world
of public eating. Margaret Visser
recently reminded us that as far back as the fifteenth century ice, snow water,
and fruit ices were being sold by merchants on the streets of Turkish towns.1 In
Western Europe, however, ice-cream remained a luxury enjoyed mostly in royal
courts or private houses until the nineteenth century.
It was Italian immigrants who introduced ice-cream to the British as a street
food and who created the thriving take-away culture that still survives in
cities such as Glasgow.
Visser explains that
Italians had introduced the idea to Britain by 1850 at the latest, when Carlo
Gatti was peddling ice cream to Londoners from a painted cart. He was so
successful that he and others brought many more Italians over to join them.
These immigrants were grossly exploited labour, often lodged in poor
conditions and paid little; during the winter they often worked as hurdy-gurdy
men. Every morning in summer they cranked and froze the ice cream mix they had
made the previous night, and went their rounds in London, Glasgow, Manchester,
and other growing industrial cities crying, 'Gelati, ecco un poco!' It is
thought to be because of their cry that ice-cream vendors were called 'hokey
pokey men' and the ice cream they sold 'hokey pokey', a term which became
common also in America.
As economic conditions grew worse in Italy the trickle of immigrants became a
flood by the 1880s. Recruited by agents working for padrone in London, Italians
were brought to Britain as cheap labour. Many were sent North to Scotland where
they were then given a barrow and became 'hokey pokey' men.
The first to arrive in Glasgow were immigrants from the Ciociaria district as
Bruno Sereni asserts in his brief history of Italian immigration from Barga to
It was the Ciociari who laid the foundations for what was later to become
Scotland's flourishing ice-cream industry. The necessity to earn more than
could be put together by begging, slowly transformed them from itinerant
musicians into itinerant ice-cream salesmen. In summer they would push their
ice-cream carts to the gates of the main public parks and do business there.
In under 50 years, from 1870 to 1920, with great courage and initiative, they
graduated from rudimentary shops in the slum quarters to more luxurious
establishments in Sauchiehall Street and the city centre, with lots of mirrors
on the walls, wooden partitions and leather-covered seats.
The later immigrants to Scotland came mainly from two areas of Italy - Lucca and
Frosinone in the Abruzzi. In an oral history of this period, Alfonso Barsotti
recalls this system of immigration:
I can remember my dad telling me that a couple of men came into the village
an' they were talkin' away, 'We've got these places if you're interested, we
can give ye work'. And they started describing the places, that there were
theatres and big shops and so, of course, all the kids in the village were
thinking that this was going to be marvellous. The work, it didnae seem much,
they thought just stand out there and sell ice-cream things...this is money
for nothin'!...My dad he was about fourteen when he came over. What, of
course, they didnae know was that they'd be workin' practically all day and
also [that] there was a guy employed just to make sure they only took their
wee breaks whenever they should and that they carried out the work.4
Once in Glasgow, the ice-cream trade did provide a living, though only just. The
problems of language and work conditions were aggravated by loneliness as the
first waves of immigrants were mainly men hoping to return to Italy or make
enough to send for their wives or fiancés. Another account by Federico Pontiero
conveys the difficulties of the daily work routine :
At the beginning I mean I stood a lot o' abuse, yes, kids especially, because
you couldnae speak. Many's the time though you'd get some o' the young boys,
they were very good. I gave them 'pokey-hats' and they gave you a hand to
shove it [the barrow] up the hill. Some o' the hills you couldnae really shove
it yourself because you were trying to shove it up the way and the barrow was
pushing down the way. I even pushed the barrow up the Cathkin Braes one
morning and you know how much I made? Two pence! Aye, it was heavy, heavy work
and it was quite a wee bit hard life tae build up the business. when I did
come here the day start seven in the mornin' and that was for eight solid
year...We hadna a night off nor nothing. I mind o' Mr Rinaldi, I think he was
the first Italian settled in Cambuslang, he used to go down the Clyde there
and cut the ice. They cut the ice in the Clyde at that time so it must have
been awfu' number of year ago because I never seen a Clyde frozen since!...It
was breakin' ice off for the ice-cream.
The frustrations of such abuse are confirmed by Dominic Crolla's memories:
Many times when the chap would be going round the streets with the barrow
they'd get a couple of youths coming up and making a bit of fun because the
man couldn't speak English. They'd go up pretending they were going to buy
something and when the Italian chap lifted the lid they'd throw bundles of
stones or something into the freezer. These boys were only doing it as a
prank, you see, but for the Italian man it was a loss of a lot of money
because they'd wasted his goods.
Necessity made the immigrants persevere and, of course, the desire to return
home as a landowner. As the ice cream trade developed in Glasgow a hierarchy was
For most of them, the most important thing in life was to achieve some kind of
economic independence and be able to go back to Barga as quickly as possible.
In the years immediately following the first world war Cooper's Café played a
major role in the commercial training and careers of many of these youngsters
who had immigrated to Glasgow. It represented the first step in the ladder of
success: the ownership of a small shop which, in turn, could lead to the
ownership of a piece of land in one of the villages around Barga...
This ladder of success had strictly defined roles which led the young immigrant
ever higher in the ice cream industry:
In 1890, Giuliani owned three very successful cafés in Glasgow, two of which
were located in Argyle Street and the third near Glasgow Green, where
thousands of people gathered every Sunday to listen to the speakers. During
the rush hour, he had no less then five assistants serving behind the
ice-cream counter. One of the favourite drinks was ginger ale. This strange
concoction was prepared in the cellars by the young apprentices who poured it
into stone jars ready to be consumed. It was one of the menial tasks they had
to perform for a period of time before being allowed the privilege of serving
clients at the tables.
Eventually, as more of the immigrants began to move into the shop trade ice
cream barrows began to vanish. In the shops the Italians specialised in ice
cream in the summer and, in winter, hot peas and vinegar. These shops were often
part of chains that would be sold off to employees who could prove their ability
to make a profit. One Italian woman remembers her father operating such a chain:
My father came to Edinburgh in 1902 and in those days you could get a shop and
some stock for about £150. After a while, he used to open the shops and sell
them to the Italian fellows, you know, as a going concern. First of all he
took them on as payin' servants [employees] and then, if they were worthy, he
sold them the shop and they paid him so much a week, you see, towards the shop
In Glasgow Giuliani had also begun to operate such a system, creating a broad
network of cafés across the city:
Giuliani...began to take on the more alert among the assistants and
apprentices as full-fledged partners, on an equal basis, in the running of
these new concerns. The owners would supply the premises with all the
necessary furniture and equipment plus the usual stocks of cigarettes,
chocolates, soft drinks, milk and sugar which were all purchased in bulk at
discounted prices. The working partner would provide the labour and accept
full responsibility for the efficient running of the business, the profits
being shared equally between them.
Police statistics indicate just how rapid was the spread of these shops. In 1903
there were 89 in Glasgow, a year later there were 184 and by 1905 there were
estimated to be 336 ice cream shops in the city.11 The Italian immigrant
population had been growing as quickly reaching a high point of 4500-5000 around
Glasgow was used to such waves of immigration, having already absorbed Irish and
Eastern European Jewish populations in the nineteenth century. The city was, at
that time, the thriving industrial centre of the British Empire leading the
world in shipbuilding and heavy engineering. Glasgow was also in the throes of
an artistic renaissance with artists such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Fra
Newbury, Herbert McNair and Margaret MacDonald creating a distinctive art
nouveau style. More importantly Mackintosh was receiving some of his most
important commissions in the city from Kate Cranston, proprietor of Cranston's
Riding on a wave of Temperance reform Miss Cranston had opened a series of tea
rooms in Glasgow, providing an elegant alternative to pubs for the
middle-classes. Mackintosh's Japanese-influenced designs provided the city with
a series of café interiors that transformed the notion of public eating in
Glasgow. Tea and other refreshments were no longer to be taken only on a
functional level in dull, unimaginative surroundings. In Miss Cranston's rooms,
public eating had become an adventure. Glasgow, a city which had for so long
accepted the strictures of presbyterianism, was beginning to enjoy itself. Both
its prosperous middle-classes and its large workforce were seeking new
entertainments - cinemas were opening, music-halls and dance-halls flourished.
It was in this context that the Italians brought ice-cream shops to the
attention of the Glasgow public. The immigrant owners of the shops must have
been surprised by the hostility they faced in the early years of ice cream in
the city. The conservative forces that controlled the city were already made
anxious by the growing entertainment industry in the city. For them, the Italian
ice cream shops epitomized the evil of luxury being smuggled into the souls of
Glaswegians. The Italians were very obviously Roman Catholics, 'aliens' or
foreigners, Sunday traders, and finally, they were purveyors of ice cream. When
all of these attributes were linked to the sale of something so obviously
luxurious, unneccesary, and ephemeral as ice cream the forces of conservatism
had found the embodiment of all they feared.
In one of his early novels called Hatter's Castle A.J. Cronin gives us a glimse
of the genteel fear aroused by the heady mixture of ice cream and the exotic.
The hero, Denis, drags his lover into an Italian café in Dumbarton:
He took her arm firmly and led her a few doors down the street, then, before
she realised it and could think even to resist, he had drawn her inside the
cream-coloured doors of Bertorelli's café. She paled with apprehension,
feeling that she had finally passed the limits of respectability, that the
depth of her dissipation had now been reached, and looking reproachfully into
Denis' smiling face, in a shocked tone she gasped:
"Oh, Denis, how could you?"
Yet, as she looked round the clean, empty shop,
with its rows of
marble-topped tables, its small scintillating mirrors, and brightly papered
walls, while she allowed herself to be guided to one of the plush stalls that
appeared exactly like her pew in church, she felt curiously surprised, as if
she had expected to find a sordid den suited appropriately to the debauched
revels that must, if tradition were to be believed, inevitably be connected
with a place like this.
Her bewilderment was increased by the
appearance of a fat, fatherly man
with a succession of chins, each more amiable than the preceding honest one,
who came up to them, smilingly, bowed with a quick bend of the region which
had once been his waist...
"Nice chap, that," said Denis,
"straight as a die; and as kind as you
"But." quavered Mary, "they say
such things about him."
"Bah! He eats babies, I suppose! Pure,
unlovely bigotry, Mary dear.
We'll have to progress beyond that some day, if we're not to stick in the dark
ages. Although he's Italian he's a human being...
Mary's reactions were a testimony to the success of the attacks launched on the
primarily Italian ice cream trade in Scotland at that time. As the new shops
spread through Glasgow and the surrounding towns religious groups allied with
police forces and the shopkeeper's union to limit their trading powers.
The initial attacks on ice-cream shops were on the grounds of late opening and
Sunday trading. In May, 1906 the Glasgow Herald carried a report of a memorial
from the British Women's Temperance Association under the headline 'An
Objectionable Trade'. The Association argued that
One most objectionable and pernicious aspect of Sunday trading in Scotland was
that of the ice-cream shop, which in recent years had reached alarming
numbers. The Magistrates had no control or regulation over these shops beyond
seeing that under the local Police Act they were not kept open between
midnight and five a.m. They had no control over their opening on Sundays, and
the disorderly behaviour in these shops on Sundays was nothing short of a
public scandal. There was neither necessity nor desire in Scotland for general
Sunday trading, which has developed to a very great extent in recent years,
because of the extended operations of the foreign shopkeeper, whose trade had
been to the serious detriment to the youth of the country. If a law on Sunday
trading did no more than close those ice-cream howffs on that day it would be
welcomed in Scotland as a great blessing.
This attack is surprising as it comes from a Temperance Association. Italian
shop owners knew that they could benefit from the Temperance Movement as the
rising population of teetotallers sought out new non-alcoholic establishments
but in 1906 they obviously still had to convince the Temperance Associations.
Sunday trading, their influence on the young, and the fact that they were
'foreign' shopkeepers still outweighed their virtues.
Evidence given to a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Sunday Trading only ten
days after this attack reveals exactly how these opinions of ice cream shops
were expressed. Mr. Anderson, chairman of the Scottish Shopkeepers' and
Assistants Union was cross-examined:
Mr. Stuart Samuel - What is there exactly against these ice-cream shops? - A:
There have been a number of convictions for gambling and shebeening, and
altogether the moral tone is not good.
Why should the language used in ice-cream shops
be worse than in any
other shop, say butcher's shop, that is open on a Sunday? A: - It is not "Why
should it?" but "Who is it?" (Laughter). The bad language arises
class of people who frequent the shops.
Do you urge immorality against these ice-cream
shops? - I should not
like to urge it, but it is known.
Do you say betting takes place among those
young people? - It is
understood to be so; I have seen it done.
The objection you have is that those shops
encourage gambling? - Yes.
You say there is a baker who opens on Sunday in
Glasgow. Is he a Jew? -
Yes; I could not say whether he closes on Saturday.
Earl Beauchamp - The Chief Rabbi made the
suggestion that if a Jew shut
on Saturday, he should be allowed to trade on Sunday. How would such a measure
be viewed in Glasgow? - I do not think it would be well received. The general
body of the public would object to it. The traders certainly would object to
The Duke of Northumberland - You were asked why
there should be more
objectionable language and conduct than in a butcher's shop. Is it not the
case that young persons of both sexes hang about and loaf in the ice-cream
shops? - That is so; and the loafing goes on to a very late hour.
Mr. Gulland - I have heard frequent complaints
that children going to
Sabbath schools with pennies to put in the missionary boxes go instead to the
ice-cream shops; is that so? - I have heard so. In fact, it is quite a known
By June accounts of such minor atrocities had been superseded as various police
inspectors stepped forward to give evidence. At this point the attack on
ice-cream shops turned to their role as dens of iniquity - it is argued that
they are an evil whether they are open on Sunday or not:
Cross-examined, witness stated that he had seen boys and girls indulging in
the practice of smoking cigarettes. His objection to the shops was because of
the way in which they were conducted. Q. You want to see the shops
closed...Witness did not think respectable restaurateurs and confectioners
would allow them to carry on such tricks in their shops. Witness added that
his contention was that the Italians did not exercise proper control. In
answer to a question by the Sheriff as to whether the withdrawal of the
ice-cream business would take away all the attraction of these shops, witness
replied that the procuring of ice-cream was certainly an attraction, but, in
his opinion, it was rather the liberty allowed the young people that attracted
them. Other police inspectors were examined to show the detrimental effect of
these shops on young people. Inspector Butler, of the Central Division, stated
that in his district he had seen girls of tender years smoking cigarettes in
the shops and on the streets as well. The Italian shopkeeper did not object to
selling cigarettes to girls. Sergeant Spence, of the Northern District,
speaking of the behaviour of the boys and girls who frequented the ice-cream
shops, stated that they were in the habit of smoking cigarettes and dancing to
music supplied by a mouth organ, while the language was more forcible than
polite. He had seen respectable men and women searching for their daughters
late at night through these shops, and he had himself assisted more than once
to get these girls home. His experience was that the liberty and license in
the ice-cream shops were more agreeable to the young folks than the restraint
Cross-examined, witness added that he had seen
the boys and girls
kissing and smoking and cuddling away at each other...Detective Young,
Northern Division, stated that he had known many little girls when about
twelve or thirteen years of age who had since been before the Magistrates, and
were now prostitutes. The boys who had accompanied them as girls were now
living off them, and were going out acting as their bullies at night. Q. Do
you ask us to believe that the downfall of these women was due to ice-cream
shops? A. I believe it is.
These descriptions seem to depict some of the first sightings of the evolving
'teenager' in the twentieth century. The accounts appear to be deliberately
inflammatory, portraying the innocent youths of Glasgow in the clutches of
unscrupulous foreigners. The bathos of the teenage girls' descent from smoking
to cuddling to prostitution is constantly reiterated in such newspaper reports
and on one occasion hospital records of teenage births are used to confirm the
dangers of these shops.
The defence, when it came, was reasonable but ineffectual against such vivid
images. G. Dambrosio, president of the Ice-Cream Dealers Association asserted
that the notion of teenagers in these shops at night was a 'bogey man of
Glasgow, an imaginary evil'.16 Richard McCulloch, secretary of the Grand and
Metropole Theatres, argued that there was an average of 30,000 people streaming
out of the theatres and music halls every night and that ice cream parlours
provided a source of non-alcoholic refreshment for such crowds. Given the
population of Glasgow and the boom in entertainment at this time in the city his
figures are not unreasonable. His opinion was also seconded by a secretary of
the United Irish League who records a more sedate vision of life in the ice
Mr. James O'Donnell Derrick [stated] that his engagements frequently took him
out of town in the evenings and on his return to the city he immediately went
to an ice-cream shop for supper. He got bovril and biscuits. He was usually
accompanied by others of a concert party, and the shop he went to was the most
convenient to his home. He had personal acquaintance with a Temperance
association in St. Rollox, mainly made up of working men, among whose number
it was a regular thing for them to frequent an ice-cream shop for refreshment
and a chat.
These reasonable arguments had begun to win the sympathy of the Temperance
Movement as the above account reveals. In 1907 the ice cream shop owners
strengthened this alliance by setting up the Temperance Refreshment Traders
Defence Association. Composed entirely of Italians, the organization raised 800
signatures for a petition against any change in legislation against ice cream
shops. This strategic advance was quickly cut short, however, by the United Free
Church who organized a conference in Glasgow to debate the question of the ice
cream trade. It began badly for the traders when the Reverend Robert Wilson
declared that 'Those engaged in the trade were all foreigners, and were not
influenced by the same social and moral restraints of our own people.' Things
only grew worse as the conference proceeded. In an article entitled 'Ice-Cream
"Hells"' the Glasgow Herald reported the remarks of a Mr D. Drummond, saying
He described ice-cream shops as perfect iniquities of hell itself and ten
times worse than any of the evils of the public-house. They were sapping the
morals of the youth of Scotland.
With such attacks the ice cream shops found themselves under increased pressure
again. The newspaper reports for the next two years record a constant series of
prosecutions of traders for late opening, shebeening and for gambling. The
charges of gambling all related to machines such as the one described in the
At Govan Police Court yesterday two Italian ice-cream dealers were each fined
for having had in their shops machines for the purpose of inducing people to
engage in games of hazard. In the case against Mansueto Tognieri, 575 Govan
Road, who pleaded not guilty, the evidence given by the police was to the
effect that on the evening of September 24 a young man entered Tognieri's shop
and went forward to a machine known as the 'Pickwick'. He twice inserted a
penny and set the machine in motion, but lost on each occasion. The officers
then entered the shop and put a penny in the machine, and lost it. They
afterwards took the machine with them. The accused remarked at the time that
he was not aware he was doing any harm in having the machine in the shop. It
was explained that the apparatus was worked by putting a penny in the slot and
shooting a ball to the top of the machine. The operator then endeavoured to
catch the ball in a cup as it descended. If successful he was given a metal
check, which entitled him to goods to the value of 3d. The Magistrates found
the charge proved.
As a form of gambling these machines were little more than an innocent pastime.
It was evident that the ice cream shops represented a more profound threat to
the city fathers and to the religious leaders. Partly it was xenophobia. All
immigrants face suspicion and an underlying theme of all the attacks on ice
cream shops was that they were owned by 'aliens'. In one instance, in 1917, this
became very clear in a case involving two Italian ice cream shop owners in
Paisley. Sheriff Blair, in his summation, stated that
These gentlemen seem to have no regard to the ordinary British methods of
trading, and very little conception of what truth is. They put nothing in
writing, they keep no books of any kind, they keep no bank accounts, they
shelter behind their own ignorance real or assumed: they enter into so-called
arrangements of partnership by which it is easy to defeat the claims of their
British creditors, they allege they buy and sell businesses on a plan that is
unknown in this country, they juggle in and out of ownership like rabbits in a
burrow, and then they quarrel amongst themselves and invoke the aid of our
This sort of statement is unequivocal but it doesn't explain why exactly the ice
cream trade aroused such passions while other Italian concerns escaped censure.
Ice cream itself seems to have been at the root of the fear. The shops provided
an exotic luxury which had overtones of the forbidden. The very 'foreignness' of
the product was exhilarating to customers as they watched the brightly coloured
confections melt before their eyes. The ephemeral nature of ice cream is also a
potent source of myth, as Margaret Visser has noted. It is a food which suggests
festivity - a break from work - a saturnalian dish. In the heart of Glasgow in
the 1900s ice cream appeared to be undermining the work ethic of the city known
as 'the Workshop of the World'. Furthermore, it was doing it in public. The ice
cream shops set up in these years provided the template for a new form of public
eating in Britain. The cafés of the fifties and sixties with their teenage
clientele were simple evolutions of this basic model. Finally, ice cream brought
a new element of sexuality to public eating in Glasgow. Unlike the prim, spatial
formality of Miss Cranston's tea rooms, an ice cream shop broke down taboos as
Mary, the heroine of Cronin's Hatter's Castle, quickly discovered:
Now she was eating her macallum, a delicious concoction of ice-cream and
raspberry juice, which, cunningly blending the subtly acid essence of the
fruit with the cold mellow sweetness of the ice-cream, melted upon her tongue
in an exquisite and unexpected delight. Under the table Denis pressed her foot
gently with his, whilst his eyes followed her naïve enjoyment with a lively
As a barometer of changing social attitudes cafés, fish and chip shops and
take-aways deserve to be explored more fully. The slow acceptance of new foods
and the changing approaches to public eating reveal deeper revisions of moral
and social codes that, in turn, illuminate the history of any society.
1. Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner (Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1986) 288.
2. Visser, 303.
3. Bruno Sereni, They Took the Low Road (Il Giornale di Barga: Barga, 1974) 3.
Sereni's book also contains a description of the earliest incarnations of the
Italian fish and chip shops in Glasgow (See pages 7-11).
4. Murdoch Rodgers, "Italiani in Scozzi: The Story of the Scots Italians,"
Odyssey: Voices from Scotland's Recent Past, ed. Billy Kay (Edinburgh: Polygon
Books, 1982) 14-15.
5. Rodgers, 16.
6. Rodgers, 15.
7. Sereni, 9.
8. Sereni, 23.
9. Rodgers, 16.
10. Sereni, 24.
11. Glasgow Herald (May 8, 1906) 3. 12. A. J. Cronin, Hatter's Castle (London:
Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1931) 72-73.
13. Glasgow Herald (May 8, 1906) 3.
14. Glasgow Herald (May 18, 1906) 11. In 1907 the House of Lords dismissed an
appeal by Glasgow ice cream shop owners against the by-law which forced them to
close at 11 pm.
15. Glasgow Herald (June 7, 1906) 9.
16. Glasgow Herald (October 10, 1906) 12.
17. Glasgow Herald (October 9, 1906) 11.
18. Glasgow Herald (October 2, 1907) 9.
19. Glasgow Herald (October 14, 1909) 3.
20. Glasgow Herald (February 14, 1917) 8.
21. Cronin, 73.
A third-generation North-east ice cream firm founded by Italian
immigrants plans to set up a tourist trail for the sweet-toothed - as BOB KING found out
It was the recent series of wet summers that gave Philip Morrison, managing director of
Huntly-based James Rizza and Sons, the idea for an ice cream trail.
It was something, he felt, that would go down well with children bored with nothing to do
when the heavens opened - and their mums and dads as well.
He said: "The idea hit me three years ago when I was looking out at the rain yet
again during what passed for a Scottish summer.
"I had my own kids and I thought something should be done for youngsters whose dads
have the well-known whisky trail if it rains.
"The answer I came up with was an ice cream trail, and the idea has been well
received by MSPs, Scottish Enterprise, local authorities and VisitScotland."
Mr Morrison said the Ice Cream Alliance Scottish Division, of which he was a member,
covered an area from Dumfries and Galloway to Orkney, and all other ice cream businesses
could be involved.
He said: "What is envisaged is a Scottish ice cream passport, in which they would all
have a space and a stamp would be put in when they had been visited. Visitors with the
special passport would be eligible for a discount when they bought ice cream from the shop
featured in it.
"VisitScotland has said it will publicise the ice-cream trail in its literature
abroad when the scheme is up and running.
"It is an idea which would definitely appeal to American visitors, who are ice cream
daft, and their Canadian neighbours, as well as Scandinavians.
"Our members are waiting to hear what Scottish Enterprise says about the proposed
scheme and what assistance may be available to help launch it."
Mr Morrison said that, in addition to providing a tourist service, the trail would make
the Rizza name more widely known, which could only be good for business.
He said it had been a long haul from when his grandfather James Rizza and his brother,
Dominic, had rented a shop in Keith before World War I to the purpose-built factory on
Huntly Industrial Estate.
After the war, James met Emily Neri. They married in 1919 and he opened a confectionery
and ice cream shop in Aberdeen, just off Union Street.
In the 1929 Dominic opened his own confectionery shop in Huntly. He also opened a
fish and chip shop at 10 Castle Street in February 1939
At this time, James was in Banff and was running a confectioners and ice cream shop, which
could boast one of the first soda fountains in the North of Scotland.
However, a fire devastated the shop and, being uninsured, he was left with three children
and no means of supporting them. The family stepped in and Dominic let James into the
Gelsomino Rizza m. Pasqualina Neri
Following World War II, the family firm moved up a gear when Philip Morrison's uncle,
Carlo, started up a wholesale ice cream business in the mid-1960s, investing in a single
Carlo died soon after, when Philip's mother and father took over the Huntly business,
purchasing the premises in Upperkirkgate in 1970 where the firm was to remain for 30
Celesta Maria Rizza m. Donald Gordon Morrison
Rizza's Ices began manufacturing ice cream to a traditional Italian recipe in the 1930s
and today the frozen dessert is still being made in Huntly.
Mr Morrison said: "Scotland is unique in having a large number of artisan ice cream
"In addition to the longer-established firms such as James Rizza, among the farming
community some of the farmers are now diversifying into ice cream making."
Rizza's, which employs 25, now has its three cold stores, which were recently in separate
locations, under one roof.
Another development is a viewing gallery just nearing completion, from which visitors will
be able to see the ice cream being made.
In addition to its Italian recipe ice creams and sorbets, the firm also makes Gold Top
premium dairy ice cream using Jersey double cream, which was awarded the first prize
Silver Challenge cup by the Ice Cream Alliance.
Rizza's dairy range is made with cream supplied by North-east company Mitchells, of
The firm's products are delivered to ice cream parlours, hospitals, restaurants and other
outlets throughout the North-east.
This year has been better for Rizza's Ices than 2001.
Mr Morrison said: "Last year was not so good. Even though there was no foot and mouth
disease in our region, tourists stopped travelling and a lot of small concerns have gone
out of business.
"Having survived foot and mouth and last year's poor weather, we feel we can survive
He is pinning his hopes on the new £700,000 operation on Huntly Industrial Estate to help
him achieve his ambition to grow the business.
He said he had worked in the company for more than 30 years and had been trying to move on
to the industrial estate for 12 years. The firm bid six times for ground and finally got a
piece of land at the end of 1999.
He said: "It is purpose-built for ice cream manufacture and distribution and we have
effectively turned it into a one-stop shop for the trade.
"We make our own Italian ice cream and sorbets which are sold at Somerfield and Spar
outlets throughout Scotland, something we hope to build on nationwide.
"We distribute well-known brands such as Walls, Mars, Cadbury's, Nestl??'s and Treats
as far north as John O'Groats, as far west as Skye and as far south as Perth and Dundee.
"We also supply sundries for the trade such as plastic spoons and wax cups."
Rizza's annual turnover already tops £1.75million, but Mr Morrison is hoping the new
factory will enable it make a real push to boost that by supplying more supermarkets to
add to the Asda deal he pulled off in the last few weeks.
He said: "We want growth and we want supermarkets throughout the UK to start looking
at regional ice creams such as ours.
"We are also hoping to get in with the people who retail Gold Top milk, cream and
butter throughout the country.
"We are very optimistic about the future."
The Italian Chapel
In early 1942 around 550 Italian prisoners of war, captured in North Africa, were
brought to Orkney. They were needed to overcome the shortage of labour working on the
continuing construction of the Churchill
Barriers. These were the four causeways designed to block eastern access to Scapa Flow following the sinking
of HMS Royal Oak by a German U-Boat in 1939.
Prisoners of war were prevented by treaty from working on military projects, so the
barriers became causeways linking the southern islands of Orkney together, which is what
they remain today.
The causeways are not all that remains to remind us of this period. On a bare hillside
on the north side of the little island of Lamb Holm, overlooking the most northerly of the
Barriers, is what has become known as the Italian Chapel. The Chapel, together with a
nearby concrete statue of St George killing the dragon and an Italian flag fluttering atop
a pole are all that remain of Camp 60.
Camp 60 was home to the Italian prisoners from 1942 until early 1945. The camp
comprised 13 huts, which the Italians improved with concrete paths (concrete was never in
short supply during the construction of the Churchill Barriers) and gardens, complete with
flower beds and vegetable plots.
In the centre of the camp, one of the prisoners, Domenico Chiocchetti, produced the
statue of St George you can still see today, fashioned from barbed wire covered with
concrete. The prisoners also worked to produce a theatre, and a recreation hut with a
billiard table made, perhaps inevitably, from concrete.
One thing Camp 60 did lack was a chapel. In 1943 the camp acquired a new commandant,
Major T.P. Buckland. He favoured the idea, as did Father Giacombazzi the Camp Padre. Late
in 1943 two Nissen huts were provided. They were joined together end to end, with the
intention of providing a chapel in one end and a school in the other.
The work of turning the Nissen huts into a chapel fell to the prisoners themselves,
led once more by Domenico Chiocchetti. The interior of the east end of the huts was lined
with plasterboard and Chiocchetti started work on what is now the sanctuary. The altar and
its fittings were made from concrete and were flanked by two windows made from painted
glass. The gold curtains either side of the altar were purchased from a company in Exeter
using the prisoners' own funds.
Chioccetti then set to work on the painting of the interior of the sanctuary. The end
result is a work of art that is magnificent even to jaded 21st Century eyes, and must have
been utterly stunning to those imprisoned here in 1943. Another prisoner, Palumbo, who had
been an iron worker in the USA before the war, spent four months constructing the wrought
iron rood screen, which still complements the rest of the interior today.
The contrast between the east end of the double hut and the remainder was by now so
stark that the decision was taken to improve whole interior of the structure. This in turn
was lined with plasterboard, before being painted by Chiocchetti and others to resemble
The contrast was now between the interior of the huts and their exterior, so a number
of the prisoners built the facade you can see today, again largely from concrete. This had
the effect of concealing the shape of the Nissen huts behind it, and came complete with a
belfry, decorated windows, and a moulded head of Christ above the door. At the same time
the metal exterior of the huts was thickly coated in concrete.
The end of the war meant that the chapel was only in use by the prisoners for a short
period of time. It was still not fully finished by the time the prisoners left the island
early in 1945, and Chiocchetti stayed behind to complete the font. Before the Italians
departed the Lord Lieutenant of Orkney, who also owned Lamb Holm, promised that the
Orcadians would look after the chapel they had created.
During the years after the war the chapel increasingly became a visitor attraction,
and in 1958 a preservation committee was set up. In 1960, the BBC funded a return visit to
Orkney by Domenico Chiocchetti. His restoration of the paintwork was followed by a service
of rededication attended by 200 Orcadians, and broadcast on Italian radio.
Domenico Chiocchetti returned to Orkney again in 1964 with his wife, and gifted to the
chapel the 14 wooden stations of the cross on view today. 50 years after the Italians were
originally brought to Orkney, 8 of the former prisoners returned in 1992, though
Chiocchetti was too ill to be with them.
Domenico Chiocchetti died on 7 May 1999 in his home village of Moena, aged 89. He did
so in the knowledge that his masterpiece will live on as a tribute to his artistry and to
the spirit of all those who worked on its construction and preservation.