Vintage style is cool for vendor

The Jolly Pedlar, Mark Thornton
The Jolly Pedlar, Mark Thornton

‘Stop me and buy one,” was the slogan emblazoned on the first ice cream bicycles used by Walls in 1923.

Today’s children will be familiar with the the musical tinkling of whistle-stop ice cream vans and the panicked rush to persuade mum or dad to part with money and unlock the front door before the vehicle has had time to tootle on to another street.

But pre-World War Two, children would have been less panic-stricken as the slower moving tricycle would commonly have been used in the trade of ice cream.

During World War Two it is believed that many ice cream tricycles were redeployed for less comparatively frivolous work – notably the military – and as time went on vans and shops became the common way to buy these icy treats.

But, with the public’s love of all things vintage currently at a high, it seems that ice cream tricycles have been brought back in various towns and cities across the country.

Here in Northamptonshire, 58-year-old Mark Thornton, from Geddington, has harnassed the current trend for everything vintage and is now busily attending weddings and events around Britain, selling coffee and ice cream from two old-style tricycles.

The Jolly Pedlar business was set up just over a year ago, after Mark was made redundant from his previous career in printing.

He explained: “I started a year last March and have been all over.

“I worked in the printing industry for 40 years and worked my way up from the shop floor, starting when I was 17. But when I was 56 I got made redundant. I had to do something and a gentleman asked me if I would be interested in doing some outside catering.”

From there, Mark moved on to set up his own business, The Jolly Pedlar, which has proven popular, taking Mark to such high-profile venues as Chatsworth House and Silverstone.

The Jolly Pedlar tricycles include an English vehicle kitted out for the sale of ice cream, and a Dutch-made solar powered tricycle for selling gourmet coffee (the sun powers the coffee making, not the tricycle).

Mark said: “At weddings, it is mainly the ice creams people want. I will be there outside the church when the photos are being taken. I have little tiny cones and use a melon scoop to scoop the ice cream. The children can come up and have as many as they want. I buy my ice cream locally. I’m a one-man band and will carry about five or six different flavours, and it is real ice cream, not the instant, whipped stuff.”

“With the other tricycle I make ‘proper coffee,’ and I even do latte art patterns on what I sell.

“So many people don’t like to have coffee from a unit and would rather have to pay a bit extra and have a really good cup.

“I will make hot chocolate with milk rather than water and I even do coconut hot chocolate and hot chocolate and chilli.”

He believes the sight of the tricycles still holds a lot of nostalgia.

“It is different and people like that. So many people say they still remember one of these coming down their street, but now we just have the ice cream vans coming. Going back to the 1930s, people used to recognise the sign saying ‘stop me and buy one.’

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