THE ORIGINS OF DICKY BIRD'S  ICE-CREAM  TOTTENHAM

 

 

I have recently been contacted by a gentleman who informs me that he is the great grandson of ‘Dicky’ Bird, who was a manufacturer of confectionery and ice cream in Tottenham in the pre-war years. His mother Jean, nee Bird, now aged 100, is his grand-daughter; she was born in Tottenham (mothers maiden name Fletcher) and spent her first few years living above her grand-father’s double-fronted shop in Tottenham High Road, behind which was the factory, making boiled fruit sweets and the famous ice-cream. Some sub-contract work was also carried out for major confectionery houses. In addition to confectionery and ice-cream, the shop sold tobacco products

His mother says that she went to the primary school at the Convent of the Good Shepherd which was just up the road from her grandfather's shop, on the same side. Next to the shop, on the Convent side, was a hardware store which was on the corner of a side-turning, with an entrance door on the angle of the corner. The side turning led to the entrance to the sweet factory. On the other side of her grandfather's shop, next door but one, was a large grocer's store which was run by another member of her grandfather's family.

We now know that the shop was in fact situated at 745 High Road, Tottenham close to the corner with Whitehall Street. The Convent of The Good Shepherd was alongside St Francis De Sales Church.

 


1911 CENSUS - BIRD FAMILY 745 HIGH ROAD TOTTENHAM (CONFECTIONERS)
PROPRIETOR HERBERT J BIRD AND WIFE MARY
WILLIAM BIRD (Age 15)  WAS LATER TO  INTRODUCE 'DICKY BIRD' CE-CREAM

 


We have been informed by Bruce Castle Museum that in 1923 Kelly directories shows that Dicky Bird's is listed at 527, Seven Sisters Road in that year, with William Herbert Bird, confectioner, listed at 745, High Road, Tottenham. This shop is opposite the Spurs ground, next-door-but-one to the junction with Whitehall St. George Abraham Bird (fruiterer) is listed a few doors away, at 753, High Road.
 


 
  
743 HIGH ROAD TOTTENHAM -PICTURED SECOND RIGHT BEYOND WHITEHALL STREET 1970'S MAP SHOWING LOCATION OF 743 AND CONVENT ADJACENT TO ST FRANCIS DE SALES - 1930s

 

 


The photographs below show the same locations in 2021 and the former premises of Dicky Bird's Ice-Cream are now occupied by a Hardware and D.I.Y business. Next door is a Nail-Bar that still has a door an angle just as it was back in 1921 as Jean Bird remembers.
LOCATION OF 745 HIGH ROAD (K & M STORE) CORNER WHITEHALL  STREET 2021 TOTTENHAM  HIGH ROAD 2021 - LYNS NAILS (STILL HAS DOORS AT AN ANGLE)

 

 

 
Apparently a young Jean Bird was only five when she left Tottenham. Her parents divorced about that time, which was a rare thing in those days and carried a stigma. Nevertheless her mother, Mildred Violet Bird (nee Fletcher) carried on running the shop in Tottenham for her ex-father-in-law. Mildred Bird died in 1986 at the age of 89; one of the stories she told was how she had the Spurs team members for tea in the shop, as it was laid out inside with tables and chairs. One thing my mother didn't tell me when describing the location of the shop was that it was directly opposite the Spurs ground!  

How wonderful that the Spurs players back in the 1920’s would have used the shop. Back in 1921, at the time Jean Bird was born, they had a very successful teams and indeed won the F.A Cup in 1921.

Editors Note: My late father was a young boy in 1921 and had fond memories of the F.A Cup win. I have no doubt that my Dad, along with his many siblings, would have known about Dicky Bird's Ice Cream as they lived just a 5 minutes walk away.

 

 



 

Apparently, there were other Dicky Bird shops in the City of London, including one off Fenchurch Street. His mother comments that her grandfather was a well-known figure in Tottenham in the 1920s. He lived in a large Victorian house in Northumberland Park but later moved to Westcliff-on-Sea.

Following his retirement to Westcliff-on-Sea, the business was sold and I have found many references to the ‘Dicky Bird’ brand of ice cream being available in Essex, both pre-war and post-war.

We discovered in the 1939 Register that the original owner, Herbert J Bird and his wife Mary, (Jean Bird's Grandparents) were still living in Westcliff-on-Sea.

We also discovered that in the 1930's they had travelled on cruise ships to the West Indies and America. Clearly their venture into making Ice-Cream had served them very well into their retirement years.

 

 

 
THESE PHOTOGRAPH ARE OF SOME EARLY DICKY BIRD'S MOTOR TRICYCLES - ALTHOUGH WE SUSPECT THIS COULD BE FROM THE NEW OWNERS IN ESSEX

 


Back in the early 1920's a young Jean Bird attended school  at 'The Convent of the Good Shepherd' which we now know was attached to St Francis De Sales church in Tottenham High Road. The photographs below show the scene from St Francis De Sale looking north towards White Hart Lane. The first photograph dates back to 1911 and, on the left hand side, just beyond the advancing tram, would have been the location of the 'Dicky Bird' shop at number 745  High Road Tottenham.

Now compare and contrast with the second photograph taken in 2021. You can now see the imposing Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that dwarfs the local buildings but, in the far left distance, you can see the original buildings on the corner of Whitehall Street.
 





THIS MAP DATING TO 1894 SHOWS THE SHOP HIGHLIGHTED ON THE CORNER OF WHITEHALL STREET.
NOTE THE SPURS GROUND HAD NOT BEEN BUILT AND WAS STILL THE TOTTENHAM NURSERY.
  THE CONVENT CAN BE SEEN OPPOSITE THE 'WHITE HART' PUB BUT ST FRANCIS DE SALES CHURCH HAD NOT BEEN BUILT.

 

Article prepared  by Alan Swain from notes supplied by Richard Sedgley, Son of Jean Bird .2021