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Industry in Basildon
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Tonibell


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Tonibell Tonibell Tonibell
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Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: George Le-Gresley
Year of photo: circa early 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: Tonibell vans in the yard at Laindon.
Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: George Le-Gresley
Year of photo: circa early 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: Tonibell vans in the yard at Laindon.
Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: George Le-Gresley
Year of photo: circa early 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: A fire damaged van at the Laindon yard. Samson House can be made out to the right of the van.
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Tonibell Tonibell Tonibell
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Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: George Le-Gresley
Year of photo: circa early 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: Tonibell vans in the yard at Laindon.
Location: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: circa early 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: George Le-Gresley.
Location: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: circa early 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: George Le-Gresley.
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Tonibell Tonibell Tonibell
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Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: George Le-Gresley
Year of photo: circa early 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: Tonibell vans in the yard at Laindon.
Location: Bowlers Croft
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: circa 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: Tonibell Vehicles seen as Bowlers Croft, Nevendon.
Location: Bowlers Croft
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: circa 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: Tonibell Vehicles seen as Bowlers Croft, Nevendon.
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Tonibell Tonibell Tonibell
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Location: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 2006
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
Location: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 2006
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
Location: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 2006
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
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Tonibell Tonibell Tonibell
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Location: Pitsea Broadway
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 1980s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments: Former 'Mr. Whippy' employee Ray Levine poses for the camera at Pitsea Broadway.
Location: Honywood Rd, Nevendon
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
Location: Bowlers Croft
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
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Tonibell Tonibell Tonibell
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Location: Honywood Rd, Nevendon
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
Location: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
Location: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 1960s
Copyright: George Le-Gresley
Source: George Le-Gresley
Comments:
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Tonibell Tonibell  
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Location: Waterville Road, Vange
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: July 1963
Copyright: Roger Plummer
Source: Roger Plummer
Comments: 1963 photo of Roger Plummer and Bedford CA series van on land at the former Waterville Road, Vange. Note the Rayleigh Speedway event held every Saturday at 7.15.
Location: Waterville Road, Vange
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: July 1963
Copyright: Roger Plummer
Source: Roger Plummer
Comments: Roger Plummer and Tonibell van with Picador body finished in blue livery with Bowlers Croft address printed on the side door.
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Tonibell

From the late 1950s a familiar sight and sound around the streets of Basildon was a Tonibell ice cream van. The company, known as Tonibell Manufacturing Co. Ltd, was founded as Tonis in 1937 by Italian born Toni Pignatelli and his wife.

Originally operating from a shop in Burnt Oak, Middlesex, their first vehicle did not take to the streets until 1951 by which time they were joined by their son Ronald. During the fifties the business grew and Basildon, with its new town status offering fresh custom, was seen as the ideal place to expand operations.

Their first depot, a yard adjacent to the Laindon Service Station on the Southend bound carriageway of the A127 before the Fortune-of-War roundabout, opened sometime in the late 1950s. They continued here, having become Tonibell following a change of name in 1960, before relocating during 1962 to No.1 Bowlers Croft off Honywood Road on the No.1 Nevendon Industrial Estate, where they were able to manufacture ice-cream in-house.

Their vehicles were custom variations of among others; Morris vans and the Bedford CA series with Picador bodies. Early vehicles were finished in a blue livery with some featuring a scaled down cow astride the front roof. Later models also included the cow and a memorable colour change to pink, which was probably how people best remember them. A feature of the livery was the company's lettering, all in lower case. They also had a specially written chime.

In addition to the street operations there were several ice cream parlours and snack bars in Basildon town centre. These were branded Tonis and situated at 5 South Gunnels, and from around 1963, 11 Market Pavement. The Market Pavement shop lasted until the 1980s before being bought by Tony Dow of Martins Mobile Sales of Durham Road, Laindon, who then re-opened for a time as Diamonds Resturant.

In April 1966, and now operating as Tonibell (Essex) Limited, they relocated again to larger premises at Bentalls on Industrial Estate No.2 at Pipps Hill. At this time the Basildon concern was operating 24 vans which cost around £1,800 each when new or about £500 if second hand and up to the company's standard. In November 1967 as the business continued to expand they were advertising for Driver/Salesman aged 25 to 40 with potential earnings of between £20 to £40 a week. The successful applicants would also get to use the 'mobile shop' to and from home. It was at Bentalls around the turn of the 1970s that the livery change from blue to pink occured.

Tonibell remained at Bentalls until the early 1990s when the depot closed.

Tonibell is still seen around locally as Gary Levine of Canvey Island operates several vans in their livery and the chimes can still be heard on many T.V. programmes that feature the sound of an ice cream van on the background soundtrack.

For anyone wanting to learn more about the history of tonibell, Steve Tillyer has written a book called The tonibell Story, details of which can be found here.

Page added: 2007
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Text researched and written by William Cox, 2007, with revisions 2013.
Copyright © 2007, 2013, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

Copyright
Unless otherwise specified, all photographs appearing on the Basildon History website, are the sole property of Basildon History Online and are protected by copyrights and laws. You may not modify, copy, reproduce, upload, transmit, republish, post, publicly display, prepare derivative works based on, or distribute in any way Basildon History's own material without first receiving written permission. You may download photographs, images and text provided it is for your own personal non-commercial home use.

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