Ancoats was a sleepy village until the industrial revolution. Mills, forges and factories replaced the old housing. With them came workers and merchants of all kinds from all over the world.

In the nineteenth century many Italians moved to Manchester from north-western and southern Italy. Some settled in the Ancoats area of Manchester. They pioneered the ice cream industry and were involved in all kinds of the entertainment and catering industries. Each year the Italian contingent was a part of the Catholic Whit Walk.

Frank Wightman, a millwright in Manchester, remembers:

"These friendly and colourful Italians of Ancoats carrying on their trades of ice cream, [organ-]grinding and pianos seemed to blend with the giant cotton mills of McConnel & Co.

I remember a few well known names: Norri Forte, Bens, Granellis, Pesagnos, Burgons, Tianies, Papas, Bagigalpios, Robinos, Roccas, Coalucas, Reas (Marcos), Tianis (“Mummie its Carlo's”), Pesagnos, “J.P & Sons” - there wasn't a fair or a wake in Lancashire without J.Ps hot pea saloon!"

Visit Archives+ to see more of Italian Manchester.

Whit Walk, Albert Square, showing the Madonna
Whit Walk, Piccadilly

Ice Cream Vans (1960s): Granelli's ice cream vans on the move and serving customers.