Capaldi’s ices – Carlo’s van, 1950s


To accompany the fab photo of the Capaldi’s ices van parked in front of the factory, here’s another lovely image. It can be enlarged.

This looks like the 1950s (early 60s?). These happy-looking ladies have just bought their ice creams from Carlo Capaldi’s van.

I’ve been pestering Jamie, who sent me the photos, for more information on the history of Capaldi’s ices.

Guiseppe (Joe) Capaldi came to England on his own in 1912, at the age of fourteen, settling initially in Manchester where he worked as a chef at the Midland Hotel. He moved with the railway to the Royal York Hotel, where he met his first wife, who worked there as a domestic. They married in York and settled here, having 5 sons – Tony, Vinnie, Ramon, Carlo and Nino.

The ice cream company was founded around 1927, starting with a business bought from another Italian family.

The Capaldi’s ices business expanded, with cafes on Micklegate and Tower Street.

The Fetter Lane factory made not only the standard vanilla ice cream, but apparently more exotic sorbets – red wine flavoured, and champagne flavoured for the nearby Viking Hotel on North Street. The warehouse of Red Rhino Records was also on Fetter Lane, and I’ve heard that records were frequently traded for ice cream.

I hope these ice cream van pictures are providing cheer and thoughts of warm summer days, with perhaps the tinkling sound of ‘Greensleeves’ playing as the ice cream van approaches.

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  1. vincent (vinnie) Capaldi was my brother in law, his wife Doreen was my first husbands sister.
    they had 3 children I remember, Amanda, Susan and a son. lived in Dringhouses. the shop was in Micklegate. Many an icecream has he given my children from his van!!!
    I now live in the USA but have many happy memories of York. It was a lovely homely city to live in.
    I lived for years on Blossom Street, where my dad worked before moving to Clifton.
    I worked for Dr. Macpherson who had a surgery there. I was a receptionist at 14, worked 9am to 7.30 with a couple of breaks, plus saturday morning.
    Dad left the garage and moved to his own garage, Kitch’s garage in clifton up Barkers Yard.
    I worked in the N.MU offices on just outside walmgate bar for a year or so.
    at Brown Bros and Taylor a big furnishing store in Ousegate. back in the 40s and 50s.
    We walked everywhere, didnt use the buses. One of my family lived on Mount Parade, another in Micklegate over Micklegate Coal supply. Mum worked as a secretary to Mr. John Saville at his goodramgate pharmacy for years. We all loved York!
    War time saw much movement up and down Blossom Street, marching forces, the various occupied country service men who were based around the area.
    There was a prisoner of war camp at the racecourse stands. Opposite our home in one of the convent owned big houses was a recruiting office where men were examined before recruiting.
    Almgills two shops one for tobacco etc. the other for sweets. many a tray of stale sweets we had that had been in the store for too long!!! The shearsmith bicycle store, Coxes icecream.
    Cake shops and the much loved Wrights Butchers. plus Mr. Arthur rank on Nunnery Lane corner.
    The Bar Convent with its daily flow of uniformed girls. the Mount school pupils in grey going up and down on their walks to town. The St. Stephens Orphanage girls in their uniforms all in line with Miss Cobb and staff. children going to the little church school and sunday school, just under the shadow of the Micklegate Bar. Storeys Book shop and Library, Parker and Watson Chemist on the corner of Queen Street. Arnold Handsley with the Windmill Hotel, his little girl on her pony going down the footpath with a groom. It was a street full of activities. children lived there as we did.
    We use South Parade as a short cut to Scarcroft school, I went eventually to Priory St. Higher Grade School in wartime. I remember Miss Petty our cookery teacher, where we had to learn to cook when things were rationed!!! Miss Pollock the teacher who was a wonderful.
    So many things come to mind. Mr. Rennison mending our constant supply of worn out leather soles, retrieved as mum could afford it. we wore plimsolls in the interim.
    I lived in cousins handme downs. I remember one dress had smocking on the front, it was a best dress for me and I loved i. Welllington boots tall and shiny black did for snow, but were cold to sit in in school. My mum would put a hot metal sheet out of the fire oven wrapped in a towel near our feet in bed in winter!
    Ive paddled in the Ouse under Ouse Bridge and got into trouble with my mum for it.
    we swam in the river to occasionally when we had been along the river path to the Rowntrees baths, freezing cold but it was free.
    I spent hours in the rowntrees Park too, in the playground, or hiding along the wooded path to it. ‘
    got caught in barbed wire there and hurt my legs badly when some boys chased us.
    I could go on but wont!!!! Audrey Richardson.

    • I know your Dad, such a lovely man. Kitch came and re-timed the engine I had put in my little van and wouldn’t take a penny. He was a good friend of my Dad, Jeff Dalby who was the blacksmith in Compton Street.

    • David Dickson

      Yes Vinnie and Doreen lived in Hunters way Dringhouses ,we lived across the road at 33 Hunters Way .The girls went to the Bar Covent school with my sisters Janette and Linda and my wife Sara . Their brother Joseph l believe went to St George’s school and became a Judge
      They sold lovely creamy ice cream and l remember one time working with them selling ice cream from the van at the Teeside air show . We got to eat the broken 99 chocolate flakes


      My dad’s grandad recchia/richies in English sold his ice cream business to capaldi family apparently my great aunty razzi ate the recchia family’s recipe on her death bed so nobody else could use it ! Think he was called pascal recchia would be nice to find out more info if anyone knows more .tia

  2. YorkStories

    Thanks Audrey!
    Lovely to hear about the hot metal sheet – like a forerunner to the heated electric blanket.

    Your school on Priory Street is still there, though not used as a school now, and as I recall still has ‘BOYS’ and ‘GIRLS’ marked over separate entrances. Will try to get up there and get some photos when I’m next out on my wanders. Scarcroft School is still there of course, still a school building.

    I think the Capaldi shop on Micklegate may have backed on to the factory behind it on Fetter Lane –
    Wonder if there are any old photos of it. May have a look on

  3. Hi Audrey,wow! what a memory for a lass of my generation,well done gal!

  4. drake Richards

    more Audrey ! I recall my Grandmother had a huge black cast iron range which had an oven in it.She would use the shelves as bed warmers in a similar fashion to what your Mum did

  5. YorkStories

    I love this oven shelves as a bed warmer idea. But am pleased hot water bottles were invented.

  6. Roderick Capaldi

    It was a great pleasure to come across this site. My name is Roderick Capaldi and I am the son of Tony Capaldi, grandson of Joe Capaldi. Vince, Ray, Carlo and Nino are/were my uncles. I grew up in York from the age of a few months until 9 years old living in Irwin Ave. My father fell out of favor with the rest of the family in the ice cream business when I was nine, and Joe gave him money to set up as a hotelier in Blackpool.
    I returned to York for my PhD in the late 1960s when the ice cream business was still going well as was the restaurant opposite the Castle Museum. At this time Ray and Vince were running the business while Carlo and Nino had their own work. I used to drive Joe to the “factory” regularly. I remember one time we were caught in traffic near the factory and grandfather got very impatient to the point of getting out of the car and banging heavily on the roof of the car in front. A policeman came, said “oh no not you again Joe”, asked me to put him back in the car and off he went happy.
    I remember fondly eating meals as a youngster at grandfather’s house, the garden of which was beside the Ouse. Maria his wife was an excellent cook. Joe’s first wife (Margaret Gerrahty),who had died of cancer before I was born, had a brother who worked as the yard superintendent for York City Council. The yard was close to the River Fosse near the steam plant. My brother Chris and I used to fish all of the time around there. I also remember with fondness living on Irwin Ave and at 68 years old can still remember all of the people who lived close, my favorite being Mr Barker, next door who drove steam trains including Mallard now in the York Railway Museum. I remember the Queen’s Coronation being celebrated on the street with a fancy dress party. i went as a zebra crossing with an orange hat and striped sheet for clothing.
    Since getting my PhD I have lived in the US in Oregon but return home regularly and make a point of visiting York. Recently I found and had copies made of 50-60 year old pictures of the Capaldi family events. I am happy to share these and many other stories of the family if anyone wants.

    • Betty Webster

      Hi Roderick , I remember the little cafe on Miclegate. my friend margaret and I went in there often in 1957 when we were 17 and my friend had a couple of dates with Nino . I loved york but no longer live there but go often

    • Tania Brightmore

      Hi Roderick,
      My 94year old mother, Marjorie Spiking (nee Crossley) is wondering if the actor Peter Capaldi is related to her childhood friend’s husband. Her friend was Marjorie Brooke, born 1921 whose parents had a sweet shop in Batley. They later ran the Conservative Club in Knaresborough from where Marjorie married Tony Capaldi. Would this be your father? Mum has a wedding photo & one of Marjorie with a baby but not sure if a boy or girl. Mum last saw Marjorie & Tony when they had the Black Swan Hotel in Pickering in the 1960s – they had a toddler called Gina. The last Mum heard,Marjorie & Tony were living in Gin Square in Blackpool .
      We would be interested to hear from you but if there is no connection we apologise for any inconvenience.
      Tania Brightmore & Marjorie Spiking.

      • Hi Tania and Marjorie,

        It’s a couple of years since Roderick left that comment above but I have an email address for him from back then so I’ve sent him a message to let him know about your comment and question.

        I’ve also added a new facility which might be helpful for pages like this in particular where people are hoping to get in touch or have questions, as it alerts you to when replies are added.

        See the link under the comments form near the bottom of each page: “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.” You might want to subscribe to that.

        I was also wondering recently if the famous Peter is related to our York Capaldis. Maybe someone has done a detailed family tree and can provide the answer.

        [Update, 28 August – pleased to say that Roderick and Tania and Marjorie have now established contact. Roderick doesn’t think he’s related to the famous Peter.]

        • Hello Tania and Marjorie,

          I have no idea if you will check this site as your comment is from 10 years ago. Roderick is my father and my grandfather Tony was married to Marjorie and I have an Auntie Gina so I suspect you have the right family! I have just begun researching my family but I will let my father know of this message.

          • Steven Leather

            Hi Ellie

            I am a distant cousin of yours. Your father Roderick’s maternal grandmother, Annie Brooke (nee Gill) (1894-1981) was my great grandma’s first cousin. Annie’s mother, Peace Gill (nee Kaye) (18666-1938) was a sister to my great great grandmother, Mary Hannah Hilton (nee Kaye) (1872-1938). I have been researching my family tree for thirty years and have a lot of information and documents on the Kayes, as well as a handful of photographs. There’s poverty, pestilence, crime, eventful and unfortunate deaths, “living-in-sin,” religious fervour (with a strong Oregon connection, no less), to relate. I should be glad to share all of this with you if you are interested in that part of your ancestry. I would also be extremely interested in anything you might like to enlighten me on with regard to your grandparents Tony & Marjorie Capaldi, your great grandparents England & Annie Brooke, and your great great grandparents Harry & Peace Gill. I did discover some time ago that Harry & Peace, in May 1924, sailed to Canada with the intention of settling there, but they returned to England a mere three months later and lived out the remainder of their lives here. One of Peace’s sisters had emigrated to Canada, with her husband, as long ago as 1905, and her niece (my great grandma) had spent a couple of years staying with her aunt in Toronto (1920-1922), with the initial intention of settling there, too, but eventually returned to England, married and settled down, which was a good job for my existence!

            My mum and dad still live just a few miles (6 or so) from Batley, where the Kayes lived from about 1872 onwards, as did the Gills. Mum lived as a young girl just around the corner from where Harry & Peace had long-lived, and worked in Batley Market Place for several years.

            Oh, and my great great grandmother, Martha Hannah Hilton, and yours, Peace Gill, must have been close as sisters because when Martha Hannah very belatedly tied the knot to her long-time partner, Harvey Hilton, in 1930, when they were both in their 60s (it’s a long story), Peace and Harry Gill were the official witnesses at the Register Office ceremony in Tadcaster.

            Hoping this message finds you, and your father, well.

    • Doreen Murfin De Bellis

      My aunty was as young girlfriend from your uncle Nino. She lives now in Switzerland. Next Saturday she has her 82th birthday.

  7. YorkStories

    Hello Roderick! Lovely to read the above. I’ve emailed you regarding the photos you mention.


    Susan, Amanda and Joseph were Doreen and Vincents children, I believe Joseph became a solicitor. Amanda and Susan became a hairdresser and an air stewardess I think.
    Doreen was Frank Mandys younger sister,
    the elder family were Sally, Irene, Arthur, Thomas, Frank, Doreen was the youngest one.
    they all lived in York,
    My husband then was Frank, he was as a young man in the Merchant Navy serving in the war. A dangerous job.
    His Brother Arthur was on the Ark Royal when it was sunk. He survived.
    Thomas served on the railways in York.
    I think at the Carriage Works.
    Sally was married and lived in York,
    Irene and her husband Harry lived in Acomb and had son Brian I think.

  9. lesley costello

    nice looking at the photo of the ice cream mum is on this photo second from the left

  10. carol johnson

    loverly looking at the photo the lady mentioned is als my mum as well as lesleys

  11. YorkStories

    Really nice to hear from you Carol and Lesley! Lovely photo isn’t it? Would love to know more about it, where it was taken etc?

  12. carol johnson

    yes we would love to know more about it and where it was taken thank you

  13. YorkStories

    It was apparently taken on the Knavesmire, but that’s all I know, was hoping you might know more! Have emailed you Carol & Lesley.

    Perhaps one day the photographer might find this page and have further info – that would be nice.

    Update: have since heard it might be near to St Paul’s church near Holgate Bridge, and have to say that’s what it reminded me of, thought those were the railway lines and railway fencing in background? What do others think?

    • David Bower

      Having looked carefully at the photograph’s background I am fairly certain that the photograph was indeed taken at the top of Watson Street, just outside St. Paul’s Church. The white painted wooden gate behind the van was the entrance to the Cattle Docks where livestock was transferred from road to rail and vice versa. If you look carefully behind the terraced streets (Demolished in the mid nineteen sixties) you can just make out the outline of the Railway Institute on Queen St, and the bar walls beyond. I lived at Upper St Paul’s Terrace until 1968, and attended St Paul’s Primary School nearby. As well as the cattle being unloaded here, there were more exotic visitors to be seen. The large traveling Circus’s (Billy Smart’s, Bertram Mill’s and Chipperfield’s) would visit the Knavesmire once a year, and in the early sixties would travel from town to town by rail. When the Circus arrived the teachers from St. Paul’s would take us children down to the gates behind the Ice Cream van to watch the animals being unloaded and driven to the Knavesmire. this was of course in the days when Lions and Tigers were amongst the exotic acts. These could be clearly seen pacing too and fro in their cages. But the most amazing sight were the Elephants. Traffic was stopped and these were walked by their keepers, holding on, trunk to tail over Holgate Bridge, along Dalton Terrace and down to Knavesmire Gate. I wonder if anyone else remembers this, and if anyone has photographs of this strange procession!

      • That’s fab David, thank you. I’m sure other people must remember the circus arriving in town, sounds like something you wouldn’t forget!

        • lesley costello

          I also think the photo of the ice cream van was taken at the top of waston street aswell.I lived in st pauls terrace and went to st pauls school in the 60s my dad also went to st pauls school
          I can remember the cattle been uploaded here.
          i also remember going watch when the circus came here aswell .My mum is on the photo of the ice cream van.

      • lesley costello

        nice reading the above david bower

      • Yeah,I remember the circus train and the animals been taken to the Mire.I lived in Leeman road and my Mam would take me to see it.Think it was early 60s.No pics tho would love to see some.Good old days.

  14. lesley costello

    yes please

  15. Francesca Sophia Capaldi

    My Grandad Carlo Capaldi, the smiley handsome man serving the ice cream, has passed away only hours ago. But he will live forever in our hearts and in people’s memories, thank you for this York storie that helps leave record of the happy times.

    • Francesca, I am so sorry to read of your loss. And grateful to you for leaving this message, at such a sad time. It is a lovely photograph and I was pleased to be able to include it here, and see all the comments above, over the last two years.
      Thinking of you and your family,
      Lisa x

  16. my father knew a capaldi who lived in York can u please answer if u know thank you

  17. Martin Taylor

    Have been looking up York to see if anything from my childhood. Found my old schools Hepworth Jnr. and St. John’s Sec Mod Schools from 60 years ago and importantly Capldi’s ice cream van . It came into Giles Ave. every evening driven by Carlo. Great memories

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