A flaky future for resort’s beloved ice cream vans?

Maurice Murray
Maurice Murray
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Could the familiar jingle of the ice cream van soon fade from our streets entirely?

‘Nonsense’, say local vendors.

Stuart Webster from Stu's Ices

Stuart Webster from Stu's Ices

Ice cream van owners across the Fylde coast have maintained that, while the sight of a painted Mr Whippy van parked at the end of the street is less common, the summertime tradition remains strongly in demand, as they now depend on carnivals, food festivals, weddings, birthday parties and Christenings to bring in the cash.

The fierce defence of a struggling, yet determined industry comes after claims earlier this month suggested that traditional ice cream van tunes - Greensleeves, The Entertainer, and Pop Goes the Weasel to name just a few -‘may mean nothing to future generations of children’.

Ice Cream Alliance director Maurice Murray, owner of Niceone Ices in Fleetwood, said: “To say ice cream vans are dying out is nonsense.

“Yes, in the 1970s and 80s you would see a couple of vans two or three times a day, but now you will only see one - so the frequency of vans going round has declined, but the ice cream vans are still out there and there’s still a profit to be made.

Maria Coletta (left) at one of the Ice Cream carts on Blackpool Beach '1950s ? / Coletta's Ice Cream

Maria Coletta (left) at one of the Ice Cream carts on Blackpool Beach '1950s ? / Coletta's Ice Cream

“I run a Facebook group for mobilers will well over 1,000 members, and most of them have got two or three vans each.

“There is less to be made on the streets because of competition from supermarkets, petrol stations and corner shops. Events are what everyone is turning to these days - weddings and birthday parties.”

Maurice, who has run a small fleet of ice cream vans since 2007 with the help of his two sons, currently sells ices at Cala Gran caravan park and Freeport Fleetwood, and was awarded the title of ‘Mobiler of the Year’ in 2016.

He added: “Special events are the future of the ice cream truck.”

the north promenade and beach with holidaymakers in st annes-on-sea. a kiosk has been set up to sell ice-cream and donkeys are made ready to take children up and down the beach. a bandstand lies to the left of the photograph. lancashire fylde lytham st annes

the north promenade and beach with holidaymakers in st annes-on-sea. a kiosk has been set up to sell ice-cream and donkeys are made ready to take children up and down the beach. a bandstand lies to the left of the photograph. lancashire fylde lytham st annes

Stu Webster, of Stu’s Ices in Blackpool, branched into the ice cream van business two years ago despite naysayers claims the industry was doomed.

He said: “I thought it would be a good idea to give it a shot; it was something different and I had the chance to be my own boss.

“There isn’t any money to be made in going around streets any more. We do carnivals and weddings. We have started to get quite a bit of business from birthday parties.

“We’ve never had a problem keeping a stable business.”

Even Blackpool’s famous Notrianni Ices has now begun to offer a mobile service due to the huge increase in people looking to spice up a party with tasty treats from a traditional ice cream van.

Luca Vettese, manager at Notrianni Ices, said: “We have just started this season. It all started when a friend asked me if I would do it as a wedding present. I served ice cream at the wedding and it was a great success.

“We have done a few weddings since then.

“There has been a lot of talk about ice cream vans being in decline. I’m a member of the Ice Cream Mobilers, they have all got ice cream vans and they all seem to disagree.

“The industry is changing but it is not in decline.

“I think what they have had to do is diversify themselves and come up with new ideas as time goes by.

“I definitely think it helps that we are a coastal town because people associate the seaside with ice cream and fish and chips and other food. If you come to the seaside you get an ice cream.

“It’s a really traditional thing and that’s why I can’t see it ever dying out.”