A horse-drawn ice cream van belonging to the Gizzi family in a Bridgeton street c 1933.
Harsh economic conditions forced many Italians to emigrate in the later years of the 19th century. Glasgow was the third most popular destination for those who came to Britain. A high proportion of those who settled in the city came from the region around Barga in Tuscany.
The food trade, and in particular ice cream, provided a living for many Italians. Ice-cream vendors started with a barrow and were called "hokey pokey men", from their cry Gelati, ecco un poco! By hard work, they progressed from pushing barrows to acquiring horse-drawn vans of the type illustrated, and many invested their profits in well-stocked and attractively fitted-out cafes. It became common to sell fish and chips, a particularly un-Italian style of cuisine but one which was more popular than ice cream during the long and dreich Scottish winters.
The number of ice cream shops in Glasgow jumped from eighty-nine in 1903 to 226 in 1905. The Italian immigrant population grew as quickly, reaching 4,500-5,000 in the early years of the 20th century.
Reference: Glasgow City Archives, P7689
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning
cafes, confectionery, fish and chips, food, Gizzi family, hokey pokey men, horses, ice cream, ice cream vans, immigrants, Italians, shops, street scenes