End of era as Barkingside ice cream parlour downsizes

An ice cream parlour which opened it doors in Barkingside when Second World War rationing was still in place, is closing its High Street shutters for good this week, as its owner warns of worse to come for business.

Falling trade has forced Rossi Bros to move out of half of its outlet, and instead operate from a small “kiosk” type unit with a new shop front in Hobart Road.

The High Street-facing side of the business, which opened in 1948, is on the verge of being sold.

David Rossi, 62, has blamed the closure on a number of factors, including parking difficulties and the changing face of the High Street.

He said: “When you consider in the past 25 years, all the greengrocers have been annihilated, the eight or nine butchers have all been annihilated.

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“So many of these businesses have been annihilated by supermarkets. They’ve killed everything.”

Mr Rossi, of Haigville Gardens, Barkingside, blamed limited parking and “ruthless” traffic wardens, who he compared to the North Korean regime for issuing fines – sometimes, he claims, without there being a genuine breach of parking rules.

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He said: “High streets have one function – that’s to fill in the gaps between people going to major retail shopping centres and the supermarket.

“When they forget something, they come to us. Most of the time they want to stop quickly and get something.

“If they can’t do that, we’re finished. It’s as simple as that.”

For years, Redbridge Council has been trying to find funding to regenerate High Street.

A current bid, if successful, would see parking created in Virginia Gardens and a public square area installed in front of Fullwell Cross Library and the neighbouring swimming pool in High Street.

But Mr Rossi believes that, and past improvements, won’t help.

He said: “It’s too late to reverse everything. I’ve been working here since 1972 and all these improvements are a complete waste of money. They do nothing for the high street.”

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