The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association
The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association

1971 - 1990

Ice Cream Charlie



Photo: Sali Mahomet with his original ice cream cart, ca. 1903.
- Ferrymead Heritage Park.

Sali Mahomet, who had previously been a hawker around the South Island with his father, moved from Dunedin to Christchurch and set up his own business in 1903, applying to the City Council for a license to sell ice cream in Christchurch's Cathedral Square. Initially he made ice cream from his home in a hand-cranked churn, rising before dawn, carting it into town, and selling it in summer from his red, white and gold ice cream cart outside the Bank of New Zealand on the south-eastern corner of the Square.

He became known to generations as ‘Ice Cream Charlie’.

By 1907 he was manufacturing in his own electric-powered "dairy" (a stand-alone building behind his house) at 69 Caledonian Rd., St. Albans.


                                         Photo: Sali Mahomet making ice cream in his 'dairy' behind his house at
                                         69 Caledonian Road, St Albans, ca. 1910
                                         
- Christchurch City Libraries File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0041.

Milk and cream was supplied by the Tai Tapu Dairy Company, and flavour syrups by wholesale druggist H F Stevens.

A horse and cart would deliver one hundred weight (42kg) blocks of ice from the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company each morning. Ice and salt was used to freeze the ice cream, made in four Westinghouse churns, and also for packing around the ice cream to transport it into the Square and keep it frozen during the day.

Sali's ice cream was sold in cup-shaped cones and glass sundae dishes with silver spoons, and in small and large take-home packs, or customers could take home ice cream in their own containers.

A journalist reported:
“Ice-cream Charlie’s stall… is a rendezvous for children and for boys, youths and young men, mainly on bicycles, who, while hurrying through the town on errands, can only spend a few minutes for refreshment. Parents passing the stall find it difficult to resist the persuasions of their children and often join them in having an ice-cream.”

The Press of 1 May 1915 reported that four ice cream sellers, including Sali, were prosecuted by the Health Department for selling ice cream that did not comply with the regulations, ie., milk fat levels below the legal standard of 10%. He was fined 5 shillings and costs.


                                                  Advertisement, Press, 16 December 1915

In January 1916, Sali contributed 10 gallons of ice cream to the Red Cross Fund for sick and wounded soldiers.

‘Ice Cream Charlie’ became a Christchurch institution and he continued to sell ice cream in the Square until 1942.

In later years, Sali made attempts to sell the business, in 1932, and again in 1940:


                                                        Advertisement, New Zealand Herald, 7 December 1940

However these were unsuccessful, and Ice Cream Charlie carried on, until in 1942, at age 76, a stroke left Sali unable to continue.

Sali died a year later after a second stroke, on October 7th, 1943.

Read much more about Sali Mahomet at Lost Christchurch.

Sali Mahomet had gone, but his iconic "Ice Cream Charlie" legacy lives on - subsequent ice cream vendors, based mostly around Victoria Square, have taken up the famous name, and to this day you can still buy an ice cream in Christchurch from an Ice Cream Charlie.

Victor James Wilkinson (1902-1985) was the second Ice Cream Charlie.

Sali's decayed dairy was still standing in 1999.

Two of Sali's original ice cream carts survive and are displayed at Ferrymead Heritage Park:


                         Photo: Sali Mahomet's original ice cream cart - note hand-cranked churn.
                         - Chris Newey; Ferrymead Heritage Park.


                 Photo: Sali Mahomet's second, larger ice cream cart.
                 - Chris Newey; Ferrymead Heritage Park.




Other references and related sites:

Christchurch City Libraries
http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Photos/Disc18/IMG0041.asp

Ferrymead Heritage Park
www.ferrymead.org.nz

Lost Christchurch:
http://lostchristchurch.org.nz/icecream-charlie-icecream-vendor-cathedral-square-c-1930

Papers Past (National Library of New Zealand digitised newspapers database):
http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/


BackBack to Ice Cream Brands from the Past.

Sali Mahomet


                            Sali Mahomet
                              1866 - 1943

Photo: Sali Mahomet in Cathedral Square, ca. 1930.
- Lost Christchurch.

While uncertainty surrounds his origins, it is believed that Sali Mahomet was born in Central Asia in 1866, travelling with his father to Australia, and then to Dunedin in New Zealand, where they worked as hawkers, selling goods around the South Island.

Sali moved to Christchurch in 1903 and started his own business selling ice cream from a cart in Cathedral Square.

In 1906 he married Florence Henrietta Johnston, and they eventually had four daughters.

By 1907 he was manufacturing in his own electric-powered "dairy" at 69 Caledonian Rd., St. Albans.

‘Ice Cream Charlie’ became a Christchurch institution and he continued to sell ice cream in the Square until 1942, when at age 76, a stroke left Sali unable to continue.

Sali died a year later after a second stroke, on October 7th, 1943.

Read much more about Sali Mahomet at Lost Christchurch.

Help Us Tell the Story



If you can fill in any gaps in our history of Sali Mahomet, please drop us a line:

info@nzicecream.org.nz

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PO Box 9364, Wellington,
NEW ZEALAND.
Telephone +64 4 385 1410.
E-mail: info@nzicecream.org.nz
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