THE ICE CREAM ALLIANCE
The introduction of the ice cream machine
In the 19th century, ice cream manufacture was simplified with the introduction of the ice cream machine in 1843 in both England and America. This consisted of a wooden bucket that was filled with ice and salt and had a handle which rotated. The central metal container, containing the ice cream was surrounded by the salt and ice mixture. This churning produced ice cream with an even, smooth texture. Previously it was made in a pewter pot kept in a bucket of ice and salt and had to be regularly hand stirred and scraped from the side of the pewter pots with a ‘spaddle’ which is a sort of miniature spade on a long handle.
The key factor in the manufacture of ice cream was ice. Where was it to come from? In the early 19th century importation of ice started from Norway, Canada and America, this made ice cream readily available to the general public in the UK. Ice was shipped into London and other major ports and taken in canal barges down the canals, to be stored in ice houses, from where it was sold to ice cream makers. This burgeoning ice cream industry, run mainly by Italians, started the influx of workers from southern Italy and the Ticino area of Switzerland to England.
In London they lived in the most appalling conditions in and around the Holborn area. The huge ice house pits built near Kings Cross by Carlo Gatti in the 1850s, where he stored the ice he shipped to England from Norway, are still there and have recently been opened to the public at The London Canal Museum.