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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Cut-price ice-cream as Cumbrian firm celebrates 110th birthday

One of the oldest ice-cream shops in Keswick will celebrate its 110th birthday next year and is planning to cut its prices for a day to raise cash for charity.

Luchini ice cream photo
From left, Christoper Coulthard, Margaret Crompton and Tony Luchini

Luchini’s came into being in 1901 in Cockermouth when Luigi Luchini and his brother Peter arrived in Glasgow from the village of Barga in Tuscany, Italy.

Today, the shop is run by Tony Luchini, his partner Margaret Crompton and Tony’s nephew Christopher Coulthard.

Tony, who runs a shop on Tithe Barn Street in Keswick, said: “My grandfather and his brother took the train to Oostende in Belgium and then on to Glasgow.

“For the first two years they hardly saw daylight. They worked in a lemonade factory washing bottles until they had saved enough money.

“They ended up in Workington where my grandfather worked for Toganarellis. Once he had enough money he opened a shop on Market Place. He got it for about £50.

“After that they opened the shop at 60, Main Street in Cockermouth. The Market Place shop was left to my grandad’s eldest son Frank but he went down in the war and his wife Sadie was left running the business until 1985 when the Cockermouth shop closed.”

Tony, 57, opened his Keswick shop in the summer of 1986. He joined the family firm shortly after his 17th birthday.

The shop has survived a bad summer when foot and mouth hit the county in 2001 and the floods which wiped out parts of Keswick in November last year.

Tony, who eats an ice-cream every day, said: “The recession has hit us in that people are tightening their belts. We do better when the weather is good.

“We use the best eggs, sugar, milk and have the best machinery and equipment. It’s the only way to ensure quality.

“Vanilla is still our best seller but other flavours like mint choc chip, rum and raisin and coconut are popular too.

“The 99 [ice-cream with a flake in it] is our best seller of all time and I’ve still yet to find out how it came into existence. No-one seems to know the real tale.

“We will be 110 years old next year and we are making plans for that. We are going to sell the original penny licks and threepenny cones and six penny wafers. I think we will do that for a day and give the money to a local charity.”

Today Tony, who still lives in Cockermouth, has four ice cream vans that are based in the park in Keswick, Whinlatter and the Stone Circle. He also takes the vans to shows and carnivals.

He said: “My grandfather used to sell ice cream from a hand cart and then a horse and cart. His first van was a Bullnose Morris.

“We’ve had some great staff as well. Louis Bragg, who is now 82, started working for us when he was 16 and we still see him today even though he stopped working when he got married.

“My sister Anita ran the shop until two years ago when she died suddenly.

“We struggled that year and then Margaret decided to come on board and run the shop.

“Danny McCall was the best ice-cream seller on the planet. He was great and he worked in our Cockermouth shop for about 50 years. He’s 82 now but he worked until he was about 76. He was worth three men.

“When I got some Oxford die cast models made of the Luchini van Danny was the first person I gave one to.”

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