It was his love of the seaside that inspired Stephen Collie to start operating his own ice cream bike, which has been a well-loved feature of locals and tourists alike visiting Aberdeen beach over the years.
Stephen launched Nostalgic Ice Cream Bike in September 2018 and has been serving traditional dairy ice cream to dessert lovers at the city’s beachfront most weekends ever since.
During the weekdays the 50-year-old, from Aberdeen, is a driver for a local transport company.
But it is his weekend venture, which opens from around 11am or noon to 5pm (can be later depending on the weather conditions) on Saturdays and Sundays, that gives Stephen “a lot of satisfaction and pride.”
‘A welcome attraction’
Being an outdoor business, Nostalgic Ice Cream Bike is only open seasonally from March until the end of October.
However, Stephen also offers bookings for other events all year round, including weddings, galas, fairs and fundraisers.
The bike is based on the old-fashioned Walls ice cream tricycle that was introduced in 1923, which made its way around housing estates across London serving ice cream to locals.
“Many of my older customers say the bike brings back memories of their childhood,” Stephen said.
“I love hearing their stories.
“The idea came from a love of the seaside and enjoying the open air. I used to live in a flat near the beach as a child and my grandparents took me there a lot while my parents were working.
“My grandfather was a crane driver at Aberdeen harbour most of his working life until he retired so I’ve always enjoyed watching boats going in and out.
“I also found there were many ice cream bikes in the south of England, but none in Aberdeen.”
Stephen had wanted to launch his own business for some time, but finally plucked up the courage to start looking into the idea in the winter of 2017.
After making contact with the council and environmental health at the start of 2018, and securing relevant licenses and compliance, Nostalgic Ice Cream Bike came into play in September that year.
He continued: “I started my own business as a means to get a bit more cash to support my family. The bike has proved to be a welcome attraction in the city so I haven’t really looked back.
“Covid took its toll and we lost over 20 bookings overnight with lockdown, but by serving at the beach it kept us going.”
Buying the bike and necessary trailer and equipment plus initial stock was an investment of more than £5,000.
Placing an order in March 2018 for the equipment he was up and running by the autumn.
“The bike was hand-built by Lee Hayes of Peddlers Ice Cream near Southampton, while I made the cart using an old bicycle trailer. I made a wood trim to offer more flavours of ice cream,” said Stephen.
“The bike has its own modern power system where the freezer can be run on battery power.
“It’s great being at the beach watching surfers and swimmers and families enjoying themselves. You also get to spot a dolphin or two, it’s a great way to pass the day.”
Traditional dairy ice cream
Stephen serves up ice cream produced by Cream o’ Galloway, based at Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, however he hopes to be able to make and sell his own one day.
He said: “We don’t make our own ice cream at present but it’s something we would love to expand into doing.
“Cream o’ Galloway’s ice cream is made traditionally on a family farm using organic milk from their dairy herd and egg yolks, sugar and natural flavourings.
“My partners’ family comes from Castle Douglas. On a visit to see them, we went to the Cream o’ Galloway visitor centre, sampled the ice cream and fell in love with the flavours. I knew then it was what I wanted to serve.
“For other products like cones, sauces, etc., we use Rizza’s of Huntly.”
“It gives me a lot of satisfaction and pride to know I’ve launched a well-respected business which the community and wider public support.”