May 27 - From London buses to black cabs - Britain's good at exporting iconic vehicles. But it's latest success has surprised many. Hayley Platt reports from an ice cream van maker in northern England.
They were once a common sight on Britain's residential streets. The familiar chimes signalling the start of summer. Today the iconic ice cream van is not quite so mobile - most parking up in tourist spots, fairs and festivals. It's been a slow decline - missed by many. Hannah, from Norwich, saying (English): "You always hear it from your house and you get all excited and quickly run round and look for a £1 so you can get an ice cream." Courtney, from Manchester, saying (English): "It would come down my street in the summer and I'd always end up running out and chasing it." Whitby Morrison has been making ice cream vans in the north of England for 50 years. Each one is bespoke and made by hand. As the times changed so did the business Stuart Whitby runs with his son Ed. SOUNDBITE: Ed Whitby, Production manager, Whitby Morrison, saying (English): "Export is our key growth area. The UK industry has changed, there are fewer vans on the streets, but with the advent of the internet and global exhibitions, exports have grown significantly, going from just one or two a year as previous to now into thirty, perhaps forty vans a year." GRX They now export to more than 60 countries worldwide, mostly in sunnier climates. One of their newest customers is in Baku, Azerbaijan where they've sold 20 vehicles. The export market now accounts for more for a third of the company's sales. And there's no sign of things slowing down. SOUNDBITE: Ed Whitby, Production manager, Whitby Morrison, saying (English): "We had another one go to Ghana a couple of year's ago, one to Malawi and then recently over the past few years, we've built now into the sixth for a customer in Tripola, Libya." They're not cheap. The average cost is around £50,000, rising to £100,000. But their "Made in Britain" label counts for much. SOUNDBITE: Ed Whitby, Production manager, Whitby Morrison, saying (English): "The Britishiness is a key feature of these ice cream vans. A British industry is looked on proudly around the world Brits still love to buy their 99s, fabs and feasts from ice cream vans. But the market in Britian is peaking. And Whitby Morrison is helping take a great British tradition to some very unexpected places.