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

1971 - 1990

Queen Anne

Son of a master baker, Ernest Alfred Adams already had extensive baking and business experience when he met Hugh Bruce, a Christchurch baker who was intending to sell his business to retire. Instead they decided to go into partnership, and formed Adams Bruce Limited.

By 1925 the successful company had bakeries in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and decided to expand into chocolate and ice cream manufacture. Two Canadian confectioners were brought in to help set up the Queen Anne Chocolate ‘Studio’ in College Street, Wellington. A three-story factory was built for both chocolate and ice cream production.

Adams Bruce expanded its bakery empire and chain of retail shops throught the 1920s, until its brand of chocolates, ‘Queen Anne’, had become a household name.

By 1929, Queen Anne Ice Cream was beginning to make its name as a high quality product as well, "in three distinctive flavours", Maple, Vanilla and Chocolate, served in a dish (ice cream 6d, sundae 9d and banana split for 1/-), in three sizes of take-home container (6d,1/-, and 2/-) and in "the big Queen Anne Cake Cone":

                                             Queen Anne Ice Cream advertisement, Evening Post, February 1929.

The Depression led to the formation of a new company, Ernest Adams Ltd., to take over the South Island part of the business, with Adams Bruce continuing to cover the North Island.

                Queen Anne Ice Cream advertisement, Auckland Star, 23 December 1929

                Queen Anne Ice Cream advertisement, Auckland Star, 18 November 1933

With their distinctive black-and-white tiled interiors and ornate lead-lighted frontages, featuring the now-famous "Queen Anne" symbol, the iconic Adams Bruce and Queen Anne shops became synonomous with luxury treats, and hold fond memories for anyone who grew up in those times.

                Original Queen Anne shopfront, Dunedin.
                - Chris Gregory.

In 1932, in Auckland, there were two Adams Bruce Queen Anne shops selling ice cream in Queen St, and two in Karangahape Road. You could buy ice cream cones in three sizes; 1/2d (or two for a penny!), 1 1/2d, and 3d. Sundaes were 9d each, with three new flavours announced: Butterscotch, Caramel (vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and a pink wafer on top), and Walnuts in Maple.

Factory manager Vic Kent worked for the company for 30 years, including the war years, when he remembered people queuing for Queen Anne chocolates, and the time that the company was fined for putting too much cream in its ice cream during rationing.

In 1945, the Adams Bruce business was sold to two of the company's managers, Hollis Reed and John Rhodes, who set about expanding the operation even further.

                                                             Queen Anne cardboard 1 pint pack, ca 1960?
                                                             - Mike Davidson.

Ice cream was also sold under the Adams Bruce brand.

                                                           Adams Bruce ice cream cup, 1950s-60s.
                                                           - Mintie Cottle.

Continued growth in the 1960’s meant that cake, ice cream and confectionery shops were opened in almost every centre in the North Island. The shops competed with the milk bars, complete with scoop ice cream, milkshakes and ice cream sundaes, plus of course, cakes, biscuits, chocolates and other goodies. However the spread of the supermarkets began to eat into their viability.

                                                           Queen Anne Half-Gallon can lid, 1960s.
                                                           - bjubes.

In 1976, after 50 years of chocolate and ice cream making, and facing extensive costs to upgrade the factory, the Queen Anne College Street business closed down and the famous Queen Anne brand disappeared.

Ernest Adams died in Christchurch on 29 August 1976.

After the company left the ice cream business, the Queen Anne Ice Cream brand was purchased by Westland Snowflake Ice Cream Co, Greymouth. Queen Anne brand ice cream was manufactured for some years, through into the late 1990s, but sadly it is no longer available.

                                                      Header from Queen Anne Ice Cream flavour list, ca., 1995?.
                                                      - Owen Norton collection.

In 1997, the Queen Anne Chocolate brand was resurrected by Sarah Adams, granddaughter of Ernest Adams, and in 2011 a new Queen Anne factory was opened at 19 Cable St, Sockburn, Christchurch.

You can read more about the history of Queen Anne, recollections of its customers over the years, and the current range of Queen Anne products on their website:

References and related sites:

Te Ara Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:

NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers Assn. archives.

Papers Past (National Library of New Zealand digitised newspapers database):

Queen Anne

BackBack to Ice Cream Brands from the Past.

Ernest Adams

Photo: Ernest Adams
- 'Adams, Ernest Alfred', by Sarah Adams., from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Ernest Alfred Adams
Baker, businessman, philanthropist.

Read Adams' fascinating life story, as written by his granddaughter, Sarah Adams, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:
biographies/ 5a4/adams-ernest-alfred

Queen Anne Ice Cream advertisement, Evening Post, 2 February 1929

My mother Joyce Morris worked at Adams Bruce on The Strand, Tauranga during the 1940's & 50's, initially as a shop assistant and then as Manageress (my mother died in 2007).

I was born in 1941 and lived in Tauranga until I finished college in 1959 and moved to Auckland, so don't have any recollections after 1959.

Other staff names I can remember:

- Merle Foreman (still alive) - Manageress before my mother and started at Adams Bruce in 1942 (aged 14) and left ~ 1949 when my mother became manageress
- Grace Howie
- Doris Holloway

Adams Bruce was the first, or one of the first shops to sell "pre-prepared pastry" where a customer could buy whatever sized amount they wanted and only had to roll it out to do their baking.

They also had "blocks" of cake, madeira and fruit where again, the customer decided how big a piece to buy.

The ice-cream used to come down to Tauranga (initially at least) by train from Auckland, and Heaton's transport would pick it up from the station and deliver it to the shop.

The ice-cream was packed in metal cans about 900mm tall and 300mm in diameter, which were shipped in padded canvas bags with a block of dry ice on the top to keep the ice-cream frozen. It was a long reach to get the ice-cream from the bottom of can ...

Milk came in smaller cans, and they used ladles to transfer milk to the milk shake mix container. Older milk frothed up and made a better milk shake! Adams Bruce also had more flavours than the normal milk bar.

Your web page mentions Mr. Rhodes and I think he was called the "big boss" and made visits on a regular basis (possibly flew in), and Mrs. Orr (Area Manager?) made more frequent visits to the branches.

- Ken Morris.

Adams Bruce had a shop in Queens Arcade, Auckland. Late forties and through the fifties it was a special place.

Amazing Queen Anne chocolate a rare treat as well.

The ice cream was made as ordered by memory in the shop in a machine behind the counter.

A shop that was totally unique and special to a child

- John Macredie.

One of the earliest ice-creams I remember when I was a child in the 1960s was Adams Bruce ice-cream. The neat thing about them is they served double cones so that for about 6d you could get one with vanilla on one side and chocolate on the other.

They were in Wellington, and also where I lived, Upper Hutt.

- Cheers, Jane Percival.

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