How Italy’s champion ice cream makers came to Newport Pagnell

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ITALY: renowned for hot cars and hotter women.

And on a cooler note also for ice cream, which was introduced to Newport Pagnell and district by Raffaele Mazzone.

A native of Italy, in 1900 he came to Bicester where during the next year he was joined by his wife and two young children. He began a fish merchant’s business, but in 1908 came to Newport Pagnell to become the proprietor of a lodging house at 22, Silver Street.

From the premises he also ran a fish and chip saloon and traded as a general fish merchant. Also he introduced ice cream, selling his product from a horse drawn cart.

At ½d and 1d this he sold in small glasses but some adults were unimpressed saying, “you will freeze our children on cold days.”

Nevertheless the children loved it and Mr Mazzone further endeared himself with his broken English.

Following the outbreak of the First World War he readily became involved in charitable events although there was no charitable outcome for his contravening the lighting restrictions, for which he received a lenient fine.

As a loyal subject Mr Mazzone was naturalised during the war and after the war his eldest son, Michael, who had seen much active service, including a while in Egypt, returned to Newport Pagnell where he went into business with his father at 7, St John Street, which the latter had bought in 1920.

Here was built up a successful enterprise and in 1926 Michael married Miss Antonette Secondine at St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Birmingham, his sister Mary being a bridesmaid. Another of his sisters was Adeline, who as a talented pianist often played at local concerts and gave music lessons at her home in Silver Street.

With a passageway in between, in 1927 Mr Mazzone acquired the premises adjoining his own in St John Street, and thus from 22, Silver Street (of which they retained ownership), in January 1928 a move was made to St John Street by the Mazzone family consisting of Raffaele, his wife, their sons, Michael and George, and, with her young son Anthony, Mrs Giovanne ‘Ginny’ Valente.

She was one of the five daughters and sadly a widow for her husband, Stefan, whom she had married during the First World War, had died in 1920.

Sadly in the month of the family’s move there was another bereavement when Raffaele’s wife, Andoniella, died. George and Ginny would now live at no. 5, selling fruit etc. while Michael and his father occupied no. 7, where they sold fruit, vegetables, fresh fish and fish and chips. As for Adeline in January 1931 she married Leslie Griffin of Spring Gardens, who was in business with his father, Harry, as a painter and decorator.

Adeline was given away by Michael, and one of the guests would be Toni Arpino, a boxer who had recently fought at the Albert Hall.

Tragically in 1932 Raffaele suffered a seizure and being unable to take any further part in managing the business, on his occasional short walks he had to be accompanied by family members, of which he gained much comfort from ‘Ginny,’ who was a member of the Newport Pagnell Nursing Division of the St John Ambulance Brigade and for many years would undertake nursing at Renny Lodge Hospital.

At 5, St. John Street, aged 70, Raffaele died on June 9, 1942, and was buried in the grave of his wife.

After the war, in 1946 Ginny married Mr Nicky Pelle and with her son, Anthony, moved to 8, Silver Street, to begin a general stores. Unfortunately she developed a serious illness, but was making a good recovery until in late 1955 she broke her thigh in a fall.

At the beginning of December she returned to hospital for a minor operation, but died in Northampton General Hospital aged 59.

As for George Mazzone, in 1955 he bought Colville House, in Silver Street, while as for the shops in St John Street they were scheduled for demolition for road widening at the end of November 1956.

However deliveries would be made from 5, Wolverton Road, while as for the trademark ice cream, in a contemporary competition Peter Mazzone would beat his father, Michael, to take the accolade of champion ice cream maker.