TRIBUTES have been paid to a much loved Italian ice cream man who won the hearts of generations of families.

Joe Manfredi, known as Joe Lewis, has been hailed Mr Barnton after serving customers in the village for decades.

The great grandad died on January 28, aged 89.

He came over from Italy with his parents who set up their new business A Lewis Ice Cream on Church Road.

Chris Watkin, from Cuddington, remembers working for Joe. He said: “As a student in the early 1960s, Joe gave me a summer holiday job which sustained me through my studies until I qualified.

“I was appointed on £11 per week plus commission which meant I rarely earned less than £14.

“Five years later when I started teaching, my salary was only £15 per week!”

The Italian firm took off and grew to 8-10 vans and a factory between Manor Road and Lydyett Lane.

Neighbouring businessmen became friends.

Chris said: “People like funeral director Fred Hayes, butcher Joe Walker along with his sons Bill and George. These were the Walker brothers, who established the coach and taxi business Walkers’ Coaches.”

Chris has fond memories spending all Sunday afternoons on Weaver Street in Winsford, business was so good.

“Often on a Saturday morning I would be asked to take out a small fridge of ice cream to a posh children’s party in Hartford,” he said.

“The best part was that I was able to choose a car from the garage to transport the fridge.

“Three new cars to choose from in the early 60s was quite something because most people were still running around in pre-war vehicles.”

Joe would often be out in his huge van, lights blazing until 9pm.

Chris added:”Mothers would ask his advice about children’s behaviour, followed by fathers’ asking advice about relationships with their wives!

“Joe with his Italian background was a good-looking gentleman with a serious, but good-humoured and friendly nature. I am sure to most children he was the real Mr Barnton. He will be truly missed.”