In the late 19th century Giuseppe Valente emigrated from San Michele, an area of Cassino in Italy.
Giuseppe had been brought up in the monastery of Monte Cassino from being a child. The story is told that he was found by the monks on Monte Cassino. Probably, he was given into the care of the monks after his mother’s death, and his father was unable to both look after him and make a living as a farmer. However, Giuseppe left the monastery when he was 15, even though the monks had hoped that he would stay and join the order. Instead of becoming a monk Giuseppe joined the local bandits under the leadership of Domenico il Fuoco (Domenic the Fire!). He met his wife to be, Chrisanzella Nardone, who soon straightened him out and he became a gamekeeper for a large estate in the area.
Chrisanzella had already been to England when she was a young girl, working with her uncle. They made their way on foot travelling through Europe making their living with a Barrel Organ. She told Giuseppe about the opportunities in England and they decided to emigrate. So with their children they settled in Monkwearmouth, now part of Sunderland and they opened an ice cream business.
As business improved and more children were born they needed more staff to help. In 1905 Giuseppe Minchella, who was also from San Michele, came over to work for the Valente family. Giuseppe Minchella was about 15 years old at the time. Giuseppe Minchella only returned to Italy once in his life and that was to get married.
His wife was called Maria Capaldi and they had six children. Giuseppe Valente and Giuseppe Minchella were friends and after a while Giuseppe Valente sold Giuseppe Minchella his ‘place of unlicensed refreshment’ in Boldon Colliery next to where the Asda superstore is now. Giuseppe and Maria moved all over the colliery villages in the Sunderland and Durham areas, eventually settling in Fence Houses next to Houghton Le Spring.
Their children Luigi, Nellie, (Antonia Marie.) Toney, Susie (Assunta) and Fred worked hard in the ice cream business. Everything was made by hand and making ice cream before the use of electric machines was both exhausting and time consuming. Things were very hard for the family in those days and it was only hard work and determination that pulled them through. Eventually an opportunity came in South Shields where there was a chance to take over an ice cream parlour on King Street.
The Notorianni Family who were moving to Eastbourne owned this business. The Minchellas moved from Fence Houses to South Shields on the 14th. November 1935. A partnership was set up between Giuseppe Minchella, Ernesto Valente, (son of Giuseppe Valente) Giuseppe DelGreco, and Dom Valente from Seaham.
Fred Minchella, was manager of this parlour. Unfortunately the premises on King Street suffered a direct hit from enemy action the night that the Market place and the docks were targeted by German bombers. October 2 1941.
Fred then opened his shop on Ocean Road and his brother Toney was brought in as partner when he left the army where he had served with the ‘Bomb Disposal Unit’
Fred married Christina who was the grand daughter of Giuseppe Valente. Now the two families were united.
Fred on Holiday in Rome
The Minchella / Valente Wedding
The Valente family moved to Scarborough and Weymouth. Uncle Dick (Oratio) Uncle John (Giovanni)Vena (Vincenza) and Auntie Chris (Aristadute) moved to Scarborough where they opened an Ice Cream Parlour on the Foreshore. Uncle Ernie (Ernesto) moved to Weymouth and opened the Duchy Café. Auntie Mary (Maria) and auntie Esta (Pasqua) remained in Sunderland.
The Minchella family and the Valente family always remained good friends. I remember, very fondly, the reunions at my parents‘ house. The old stories were told, repeated and then told once more, with all of us laughing all night. This was a magic time in my life. Those Italian pioneers were special people who took their own destiny into their own hands, worked hard and made a good living. I am very proud of them all, God bless them.
and Back to South Shields....!
As the years passed the Ocean Road Parlour grew and business improved. Fred’s brother Toney moved to premises in Maxwell Street and built up a business based on ice cream vans and wholesale ice cream. His other brother Luigi, who had been trading on the south coast. I think it was Hastings, returned to South Shields and took over the parlour on Prince Edward Road from his father Giuseppe. Giuseppe moved to a smaller parlour on Boldon Lane.
Luigi Minchella serving ice cream
Luigi’s Parlour on Boldon Lane
Fred and Christina’s son Michael started working in the business, eventually becoming partners with his mother and Father. Michael’s brother Anthony and sister Anita both work in the business.
In 1988 Michael and his wife Anne gave birth to Joe, yet another Giuseppe. Joe has now joined the business and shares Michael’s passion for ice cream, Italian heritage, and love of South Shields.
1989 Fred, Chrissie and Michael opened an ice cream parlour at the Elevated Walkway on Sea Road.
Finishing Touches to the Elevated walkway Ice Cream Parlour 1989.
This parlour, along with increased tourism on South Shields sea front, has gone from strength to strength.
Tommy the Trumpeter holding one of the Tommy’s Parties at Elevated Walkway.
Michael and Joe completed an extension to the walkway parlour in 2011 and the parlour is now the focal point of the Sea Front.
Joe Minchella at the opening day of the first National Ice Cream Week at London Zoo in 1991
Michael’s son Joe (yet another Giuseppe!) has now joined the business and is adding his strengths to Minchella & Co.
Micheal and Joe at The Walkway 2012
Over the years Minchella & Co have been very successful in the national Ice Cream competitions held by the Ice Cream Alliance, a national body in the U.K. looking after the interests of the ice cream industry.
Ice Cream Alliance Conference, Scarborough 1976
From Back Left (unnamed) Adrian Verrecchia (unnamed) Paolo Minchella, Toney Minchella, Carlo Minchella, Anthony Minchella, Romano Minchella, Mario Verrecchia, Michael Minchella, and Anne Minchella.
Front Row, Nancy Glass, Chrissie Minchella, Anita Minchella, Fred Minchella, Seppie Glass.
In 2011 Joe was very successful in two categories of the competition, wining the First Prize Silver Challenge Cup fur Rum and Raisin Ice Cream and a Silver Medal award for our Artisan Vanilla ice cream.
Minchella & Co have been through hard times as well as the good and we must acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our members of staff both past and present. Thank you all.
We also wish to thank our many customers for their loyalty to Minchella & co.
Without you all, where would we be!