Heritage column: How Rossi Bros came to Barkingside

David Rossi's father outside a Rossi Bros shop in 1937. Picture: David Rossi

David Rossi's father outside a Rossi Bros shop in 1937. Picture: David Rossi - Credit: Archant

In 1897 Pietro Rossi from Padivarma in Liguria, Italy, landed in Glasgow via a ship from Hamburg after drifting through Europe.

After some time with a monkey and organ he opened a shop making and selling ice cream in London Road, Glasgow.

The shop was in the East End of Glasgow, one of the roughest parts of a rough place.

The shop was a huge success and soon he sent for his brothers and any nephews of working age.

Giobatta and my grandfather Davide arrived but my grandfather did not stay long.

He did not like tea or the climate and returned to Italy to live the life of a penniless peasant to a ripe old age.

My father went to work in Scotland when he was 12 years old in 1924 and stayed with his uncle until 1932.

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He suffered in the Glaswegian winters and was advised to move south.

Taking the advice seriously he went to work for an Italian family in Brighton called Gizzi.

After about four years he had saved enough money and called his brother Amilcare down from Glasgow and open the first Rossi Bros shop in East Street market in Southwark, central London.

This shop was lost due to the Second World War and my father along with most Italians was interned.

After the war he worked for another Italian family called Ferraro in London Road, in Elephant and Castle.

With Amilcare they then opened a shop in New Cross which after a few years he left to his brother and went to open the shop in Barkingside with his cousin Elpedio in 1948.

His cousins, Rino and Orfeo Ciuffardi, had in the meantime opened shops in Ilford and Walthamstow.

My father opened another shop in Croydon and when that was redeveloped also opened one in East Ham.

When Elpedio retired in 1971 he offered the Barkingside shop back to my family and I have been here since then.

The original shop was at 55 High Street, Barkingside, but I moved it down the road to 113 High Street in 1990.