Nostalgia with Margaret Watson: Happy memories of ‘true gent’ Granville Crossley

SUMMER DAYS A woman with a Crossleys ice cream cart. Picture courtesy of Stuart Hartley, chairman of Dewsbury Matters.
SUMMER DAYS A woman with a Crossleys ice cream cart. Picture courtesy of Stuart Hartley, chairman of Dewsbury Matters.

This is the time of year, no matter what the weather, when the ice cream man comes round, and the sounds of the chimes are always welcomed by children.

In my day there were no chimes, just the loud ringing of a bell resounding through the streets. Children always had cornets and adults had sandwiches – two pieces of wafer with a dollop of ice cream in the middle.

TRUE GENTLEMAN Granville Longstaff with his cone. Picture courtesy of Stuart Hartley, chairman of Dewsbury Matters.

TRUE GENTLEMAN Granville Longstaff with his cone. Picture courtesy of Stuart Hartley, chairman of Dewsbury Matters.

Ice cream vendors brought their ice cream to our doors in brightly painted carts which they pushed up-hill and down dale, sometimes in blistering hot weather.

But these were eventually replaced by ice-cream vans which could travel a lot quicker and carry a wider variety of ice creams – and lollies.

Many local people have been recalling those days recently following the sad death of Granville Longstaff, who owned and ran Crossleys Ice Cream factory in Red Laithes Lane, Ravensthorpe, until it closed.

Memories of this fine and well-loved man have been posted on a Dewsbury website recently and it has been moving to read them. They bring back so many happy memories of Granville, his delicious ice cream, and his kindness.

One lady mentions how he produced penny ice lollies for children from families who didn’t have much money. Others describe him as a “true gentleman”.

One recalls those unique ice creams with an ice lolly on top, and the man who posted this, adds – “Who needs a flake?”. Who indeed?.

The messages posted were numerous, and I don’t like to include names of those who sent them because I don’t have their permission, but I’m sure they brought great comfort to Granville’s family, and this is why I am repeating them today..

Most of the messages recalled memories of childhood, not only in Dewsbury but in Mirfield and also Hanging Heaton, the areas in which the popular Crossley van could be seen carrying its precious frozen load.

Many of the messages on the website refer to Granville as “Mr Crossley” and some called him “Uncle”, but they all agreed that his ice cream was delicious and that Granville was a “true gent”.

One man recalled his father taking a margarine tub to be filled with ice cream, and another recalls Granville always giving his little Jack Russell a cone.

Many of the messages recalled days long gone, and expressed gratitude to people like Granville who served the area well.

One lady said Granville was the ice cream man she had in mind when she talked about her childhood.

“There were six children in my family,” she wrote. “Granville would fill a pint pot with ice cream and give us six wafers to put in our bowls. Or we could make floaters with fizzy pop. Happy memories.”

Another said: “It was well worth the walk down to the factory to buy a cornet from the hole in the wall.”

Granville’s friendliness and kindness was remembered by many and one message read – “He always had a smile for you as well as the best ice cream ever.”

Someone who attended Granville’s funeral wrote – “Rather than a glass being raised to Granville, we all raised an ice cream cone, provided by Geoff Wraithmell, of Charlotte’s Ice Cream at Whitley, who Granville helped when Geoff was setting up his business. A very nice touch.”

Not everyone goes online to record their condolences and their memories and gratitude to those they remember with affection, but I am grateful to this particular website for this information,those who posted the messages, and also to Stuart Hartley, chairman of Dewsbury Matters, for providing the photographs above and other information for this article.

I also send my own personal condolences to Granville’s family, as I am sure everyone who tasted his lovely ice cream will want to do – and there are thousands of them.