BRADWELLS ICE CREAM, a local favourite in North Derbyshire and Sheffield for the last century, is to close by the end of the month.
Customers received notifications with their deliveries this week. When this blog rang to confirm Managing Director Jane Bownes refused to speak and put down the phone.
Coud this be the end of a colourful business founded in by Hannah Bradwell in 1899 in the North Derbyshire village of Bradwell? She made her icecream with ice delivered by rail from Sheffield.
It became popular in the surrounding area but remained something of a cottage industry, production staying in the village behind an icecream shop front.
All might have come to an end 30 years ago when Hannah’s grandson Noel, the third generation in the company, and his wife Betty, were trying to sell the business after no one in the family was able or willing to take it on.
In 1992 in stepped Sheffield-born businessman Lawrence Wosskow (see The heart-stopping rise of King Cone ), whose mother lived in the village, and having made a fortune developing the Cafe Rouge chain, was looking for a new, local investment. He had moved to London but his wife Julie was expecting her first child and wanted her to be born and raised in her home town.
Lawrence turned the business round, redesigning the logo and introducing new flavours, placing the product in more local local shops, businesses and supermarkets. He used a picture of his daughter, also Hannah, to advertise the business. The local press branded him King Cone.
Bradwells was again at risk when owner Lawrence collapsed with a heart attack in 2006, prompting him to take it easy, wind down and eventually move to the United States.
The business suffered another blow when he was swindled by a long time friend and business associate to whom he had left his affairs. According to court reports, the net loss to Bradwells was £776,000.
Then, two years ago, he handed over the business to Jane.
Speaking from America Lawrence told me: “Just over two years ago I gave the whole business to Jane Bownes, the managing director, free of charge, because she has been so loyal throughout the years. It had £200,000 cash in it so it was very generous of me and (my wife) Julie.
“I always told Noel and his wife Betty I woud never sell the business and although they passed away a long time ago my word is my bond.”
Lawrence does, however, retain the trademark, Bradwells.
News of the closure seemed to take Lawrence by surprise. He said: “It will be a sad day for a lot of people when it does close. It meant so much to me as you know. I put my heart and soul into it for many years when I moved back to Sheffield.”
Lawrence will not be the only one wondering if somehow the business can be revived.
Many local pubs and restaurants regularly serve up the icecream on their menus. One chef said: “It’s incredibly sad news. They will be sorely missed.”