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Anthony Rea - About the Author

Anthony Rea- Folk Life Conference - Manchester People's Museum

Anthony Rea reads his paper, 'The Italian Contribution to Manchester' for the Folk Life Conference at Manchester's People's History Museum, September 2012

Born and bred into an Ancoats Italian ice cream family in 1962, the stories I heard fuelled my passion to document the history of my community.

I started helping in the family ice-cream business at the age of 10, and at 16, rather than follow an academic route, was enlisted to work full-time! I worked in the business in the manufacture of ice-cream and eventually on the mobiling side. I enjoyed many happy years working alongside my father, Loreto Rea, my uncles and my many cousins.

At the age of 7 my parents took me on my first of many Italian holidays, where I met our relatives and saw the villages of my emmigrant grandparents. This inspired my interest in my roots and love for local history.

The seed for the book was a school history project started when I was 13, which then grew as I got older. I researched the church records of the Italian communis, the local libraries of Manchester, pestered my family, and drew on my own experiences working in the family ice-cream business in Ancoats.

Since writing the booklet, over the past 20 years I've been approached by some very interesting people and institutions, and I have contributed to the following projects. It has been an honour and a pleasure to tell this fascinating story of our once-thriving community; I'm pleased to see it has inspired others to be equally proud of their heritage, and continue documenting it from a variety of viewpoints, so that it will never be forgotten.

  • ITV 'There's No Taste Like Home' cookery programme with Gino D'Acampo (4 Nov 2011)
  • BBC local documentary 'Inside Out' North West - interviewed by Nigel Pivaro (30 Nov 2009)
  • Canadian TV documentary 'S.O.S. Arandora Star' for OMNI TV - interviewd by Anna Chiappa (2009)
  • Interviewed for Manchester TV Channel M news (2008-09)
  • BBC 'What's New' arts magazine show - reviewed Godfather 3 with Eamon O'Neil (1990)
  • MOSI - Manchester Science & Industry Museum - contributed text and artifacts to "Ancoats: Manchester's Little Italy" (2008-09). Interviewed for permanent audio archive
  • Manchester Central Library (1998)
  • Manchester Town Hall (1985)
  • Interviewed by author Dominic Pulera with regards to the Italian diaspora in Manchester, England (2006)
  • Catching Fireflies by Tony Rocca (2004) - contributor
  • The Italian Factor by Dr. Terri Colpi (1992) - contributor
  • Italians Forward by Dr. Terri Colpi (1991) - contributor
  • 'Vimto The Story of a Soft Drink' by Sue Nichols (1994) - contributor
  • Italians in Manchester by Antonio Ria (1990) - contributor
  • "Ancoats: Manchester's Little Italy" (1988) - author
  • Paper 'The Italian Contribution to Manchester' for The Society for Folk Life Studies Conference, Manchester's People's History Museum, September 2012
  • Dan Dubowitz - 'Wastelands, the presence of absence' (2003) - contributor of spoken material
  • Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester - 'All The Ordinary Angels' by Nick Leather (2004) - contributor
  • 'Gelato In July' - Islington Wharf Apartments, ISIS - talk and exhibition (July 2011)
  • 'Gelato In July' - Islington Wharf Apartments, ISIS - talk and exhibition (July 2010)
  • Dante Alighieri Society Manchester, John Rylands University Library
  • (MMU) Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Manchester Central Library
  • Lancashire Circolo Italiano
  • Catholic Family History Society
  • Ashton & Sale History Society
  • The North Cheshire Family History Society
  • Your Family Tree magazine - 'Myths and meatballs' by Angela Willoughby (2007) - interview & contributor
  • Messaggero di Sant'Antonio - Edizione Italiana per l'Estero (Sept 2000) - contributor
  • Rivista Della Communita Italiana (1993) - review
  • Manchester Region History Review (1988-89) - review
  • Ice Cream and Frozen Confectionery Trade Magazine (1988) - excerpts of "Ancoats Little Italy" over 5 editions
  • Numerous radio interviews BBC Radio Manchester
  • "Ancoats Little Italy" website - author
  • Arandora Star Campaign - co-author
  • BBC Legacies article 'I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!' - contributor
  • Manchester Confidential - 'The Ice Cream of Manchester' - interviewed by Sarah Roe (2009)
  • National Italian News Association 'Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata' (ANSA) - interview (2004)
  • Manchester Evening News
  • Lancashire Evening Post
  • Preston Weekly Mail
Historical Walks
  • Louise Kane registered tourist guide - helped create "Ancoats Little Italy" historical walk (1990)
  • Manchester Italian Association - historian (formerly Vice-president and secretary)
  • Arandora Star Campaign - campaigner, invited to the Commemoration of the sinking of the Arandora Star maritime ceremony, Liverpool (as part of the Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008)
  • Successfully supported Sarafino Di Felice for the re-instatement of the plaque at St. Peter's war memorial commemorating the Italian men who fought and died with the allies in the First World War (1990)
  • Interviews for students from various universities researching the social history of the italian community in Ancoats Manchester.



This site is based on extracts from the booklet "Ancoats: Manchester's Little Italy", above, by Anthony Rea. For copies please contact me.
Alternatively you can purchase online from Amazon in the UK.

Never intended as a dry social history of Ancoats, the book paints a picture of "Little Italy" through anecdotes of its colourful inhabitants. It was first published in 1988, at a time when Ancoats had become virtually forgotten.

I would like to thank my cousin Patricia Gonzalez (nee Schiavo) for her time and help transcribing this book, and her continuous support throughout my research. Also the many people who contributed pictures and information, and especially the history makers of "Little Italy".

Finally may I thank the hundreds of people who took the time to write after reading the book, talking of the happy memories it had evoked.

review and letters  

All text and images (unless marked *) Anthony Rea 2010
not to be used without permission. All rights reserved