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21 April 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

The ice-cream vendor is the archetypical image of Manchester's Little Italy as Ancoats became known as. In 1801 an ice room was opened at Mary Jozeph's Fruit and Italian Warehouse on Market Street, paved the way for the ice cream trade by introducing ice cream to Mancuians. By 1891, 70 Italians living in Ancoats were working as ice-cream vendors, according to De Felici. Half a century later and rationing in the Second World War severely reduced the city's ice cream industry; however some of the names around today are descendents of those famous ice cream families.

Take a look at a photo gallery of the Italian community in Manchester

In World War II, men from Ancoats' Italian community signed up and fought for the Allies against Germany.
Angelo Granelli in Italian Army uniform during WWI
Angelo Granelli who fought in the Italian Army during WWI. He sent many postcards back to his family during his active service.
© Courtesy of Peter Devoti
One postcard sent by Angelo Granelli to his cousin in August 1918 from the front includes a request for her to buy a new American style ice-cream maker, demonstrating that ice-cream was never far from their thoughts!

These surviving postcards and photos are particularly precious given the anti-Italian feeling that spread across Britain following Mussolini's alliance with Hitler. In June 1940, anti-Italian riots took place in British cities including London, Liverpool and Glasgow. However it was not just mob anger the Italians faced, the government instructed police forces to arrest all of the 'dangerous characters' on an MI5 list, as well as all Italian men aged 17-60 with less than 20 years residence in the UK. Many families destroyed their personal correspondence rather than surrender it to investigators, which is why so little remains of the much happier period in the community's history.

This collection of photographs charts the journey of the Italian community in Manchester, from their early close knit communities, through to the ice cream days and finally to their correspondence in a time of war.


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