Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Friday, 19 November 2010


If you are of a certain age and hear the name "Meschia's" mentioned you can be sure it will bring back fabulous memories of a great institution that stood on Market Street Hyde for many years. For me, it evokes memories of saturday and sundays sitting in the milk bar chatting with friends ,drinking vimto and eating toasted currant teacakes in the "American style" booths. The older teens sat on the right of the cafe near to the pinball machine whilst the youngsters sat to the left - all aspiring to ,one day ,be part of the "happening" group on the right.

Here's a short history of the family business.

Louis Meschia arrived in England in the 1880s. He was part of the widespread emigration from Italy, coming from the Province of Genova of Northern Italy.It was family connections that brought him to Ancoats in Manchester, the area that became known as ‘Little Italy’. Shortly after arriving, he was told that there was an ice cream factory for sale in Hyde, then owned by Harry Gichero at 139, Market Street.
He liked the shop so much that he bought it and invited his fiancee, Maria Levaggi to join him from Italy. The couple married at St Paul’s Church and had three children — Amelia, Clarence and Joseph.


Clarence was born above the family’s Market Street shop in 1912 and went to Harrytown School and later, Flowery Field. By the age of 12, he was working in the family business, pushing a handcart around Hyde, selling ice cream.

Clarence Meschia during WWII

Louis had begun to expand his enterprise and had taken a wooden hut on Hyde Market in which he had a brazier that he used to boil large pans of black peas that he sold to shoppers by the mug-full. And, of course, he also sold ice cream. By the age of 14, Clarence had left school and was given a horse and cart to expand the operation into Newton, Woodley and Bredbury.


Market Street was as much a bustling place then as it is today - the shops, billiard halls, cafes and the ‘Monkey Run’ as the courting circuit was known. Many romances began (and some ended) at Meschia’s Milk Bar.

Clarence met his wife Betty while dancing in Manchester. They married in 1936 and went to live on Church Street where their two daughters were born. But then came the war and Clarence was called up to serve with the British forces in August 1940. Two weeks later, Italy declared war on England and many families of Italian descent were interned in Bury, or transported to the Isle of Man or Canada. Not so Louis Meschia or his son Clarence who joined the 8th Training Battalion RASC. He served through the war as Company Quartermaster Sergeant of 799 Air Despatch Company and was heavily involved with the supply drops for the D-day landings and Arnhem.

Meschia's Ice Cream van in the 1970's

After the war, Clarence rejoined the family business and despite rationing of ingredients such as butter and sugar, the business began to flourish. Ice cream was then a great luxury in the post-war austerity of Hyde. The family opened a factory in Pine Street from where they supplied forty outlets, but by the early 1980s Clarence and his brother Joseph decided to retire.
Meschia’s is still represented in Hyde Precinct today, next to the outdoor market where Louis first sold his black peas back in the 1920's.

Unfortunately , I have yet to discover a photo of Meschias Milk Bar on Market Street. If anyone has one ,inside or out, that they'd like to share ,please send to Tom or I so we can post it on here. Thanks .

Thanks to The Rhodes family and the Reporter group for the information contained here - very much appreciated.


Tom said...

Fantastic information.. I spent far to much time in the milk-bar... eat far to many current tea cakes.. and bacon on toast. I played the pinballs too... and enjoyed every misspent hour there.
A lot of folk will have memories of this family... I cannot say a bad thing about them.. I remember so many of them... I think the little cafe - coffee bar 'Joe Mocha' in the mall is part of the business... and as Nancy knows I can still be found there with a drink in front of me watching the world go by.. and of course meeting up with friends. Meschia's... the people, the name, the shops and the ice cream are a part of the memories of 'My Hyde' just as much as the schools, factories, pubs, clubs, and even the town hall itself. A great posting Nancy about a great name.... I do hope we get a few pictures turning up...

Garry Hall said...

I worked on one of the many ice cream vans during Sunday's for Jack Dryland?, I think his wife was related to the Meschia's family. He was a smashing bloke and used to tell me lots of stories about the family.

Tom said...

Cheers for commenting Gary... I recall Maureen Meschia having a farm at the top of 'West Park'.. at one time it was kind of an open house if you were prepared to get stuck in looking after the horses and such... I never went there at that time time but I know many were made welcome.. No one messed with Maureen.. in the milk bar or farm... she did not put up with bad behaviour.

celtbard_2000 said...

I also spent a lot of time at Meschias. We would go swimming at Hyde Baths and then still with wet hair, and our damp towels, we would go to Meschias and get a 99. The Ice Cream was so good.

Anonymous said...

So many happy memories of Meschias. Christine was a good friend of mine.
Does anyone remember it being refitted and having the counter moved to the middle of the shop? Before that the counter was the length of the shop with tables in front of it and there was a small room at the back where you could have a quiet tete a tete with a friend!!

Anonymous said...

This sites wonderful loads of happy memories of Meschias...spent many a sunday afternoon making one hot vimto {cheapest drink they did}last... waiting for all the bikers to come roaring up Market street or Hyde lane as we called it. I certainly remember the refit...Bo didley ....In dreams...Elvis Cliff richards Can't remember the room at the back.....

Tom said...

Thanks for the comments.. glad you have enjoyed reliving some of your past.. I had many many hot vimto's.. well like you they started off hot.. I can not recall the back room as it was mentioned above... but I saw the cones being made in such a small back room.. the lady was very quick at rolling them... these were proper cones.. not the wafer as we get now... but darker and brittle with a taste of aniseed if I am remembering right. My friend Tony's mum 'June Collins' worked there, and I remember the Maureen and Angela Meschia working there.. and the two old lady's with very black hair... I'm not sure if they were twins or not... they worked the Ice Cream vans on the market and would also turn up at the milkbar... no messing about then.. not because they were strict or anything but because they had the same respect as your Granny had... they were lovely lady's. Meschia's toasted current teacakes on a Saturday morning were the best hang over cure I knew back then... that and a 'frothy coffee' Happy days indeed.

Werneth Low said...

Yes! Meschia's is a part of my childhood. Their ice cream cart came into Kensington Street every Sunday dinner-time. Not a motorised cart, but horsedrawn so there was always someone ready with a bucket and shovel to retrieve the horse's droppings!

The milk bar on Market Street was a favourite of ours after a visit to the baths. I remember quite vividly that they would sell you a pennyworth of wafer biscuits, which always tasted delicious, even though they barely tasted of anything. Meschia's was a favourite place to hang out until the opening of the Jester Coffee Bar across the road. This was a really cool place to be - more mature clientelle than Meschia's and they sold froffee coffee.

Wonderful memories.

Tom said...

It's nice to see the business is still going, and the family still in the area.

Cathy Egerton said...

Wonderful memories of Meschias, so much fun, no alcohol, no drugs, just a load of kids having fun. if you weren't in there you really don't know what you were missing. Angela, Louie, Stephanie all lived in lovely house on West Park. Aunite Mary used to man the ice cream van on Hyde Market, lovely family xx

Cathy Egerton said...

Wonderful memories of Meschias, so much fun, no alcohol, no drugs, just a load of kids having fun. if you weren't in there you really don't know what you were missing. Angela, Louie, Stephanie all lived in lovely house on West Park. Aunite Mary used to man the ice cream van on Hyde Market, lovely family xx

Anonymous said...

I used to be friends with David Meschia from Hyde . It was about 1983/4 before we moved to the lakes. I lived o Perrin street.

Anonymous said...

The Rockers all gathered at Meschias on a Saturday night, and the mods went to the jester