Whitby Morrison

Coordinates: 53°05′06″N 2°25′21″W / 53.08511°N 2.42263°W / 53.08511; -2.42263

Whitby Morrison, doing business as Whitby Specialist Vehicles Ltd, is a family-run British engineering company based in Crewe, Cheshire East. It has been described as "the world's leading ice cream van manufacturer".[1]

Whitby Morrison
TypeLimited company
IndustryAutomotive engineering
Founded1962; 60 years ago (1962) (as Bryan Whitby Engineering)
HeadquartersCrewe, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Productsice cream vans
Number of employees
c. 50


Bryan Whitby (13 May 1932 - 1 July 2016), born in Cheshire, started out as a bodywork apprentice at J.H. Jennings in Sandbach, and later did national service in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. He subsequently worked again for Jennings and at Crewe's Rolls-Royce car works before joining Shavington-based S.C. Cummins in 1955,[2] working on ice cream vans and narrowboats. He worked with Sid Cummins to develop the Direct Drive System,[2] and, after establishing his own company in 1962, filed a UK patent in January 1965 for mobile ice cream producing equipment through which soft serve units were powered off the van's drive mechanism. He built his first ice cream van in 1965. All his ice cream vans afterwards followed this design, previously having a separate electrical generator. This system was known elsewhere as power take-off (PTO), and mostly found on tractors.

Bryan Whitby Engineering Ltd was incorporated on 12 February 1973.[3] In 1989 it became known as Whitby Morrison, after taking over the Electrofreeze business of Morrison Industries based in Sholing, Southampton,[4] and in 1998 acquired the Crewe-based S.C. Cummins brand.[5]

In 2015, Whitby Morrison successfully sued a Yorkshire-based firm for copying its registered ice-cream van designs, including exterior and interior bodywork and the direct drive system;[6] the rogue operator had bought a Whitby Morrison van and reverse-engineered its design to produce 30 fake vans, worth around £2 million, bearing its logo.[7]


View of Ice Cream Van stand at Crewe Alexandra F.C. stadium

The company's works are situated on Fourth Avenue on the Crewe Gates Industrial Estate in Crewe, off the A532 (Weston Road) - approximately 0.5 km south-east of Crewe railway station.

It employs around 50 staff. Stuart Whitby (born 17 June 1957, and son of Bryan), joined the company in 1978,[5] was appointed a director in 1991,[8] and is now managing director; his son Edward (born 5 February 1982) is operations director.

Since the 2012–13 season, the firm has sponsored a stand, The Ice Cream Van Stand, at Gresty Road, the home of Crewe Alexandra[9][a] In July 2021, the firm announced a 99-year extension of its stand sponsorship at Crewe.[11] It also sponsors a stand at nearby Nantwich Town's Weaver Stadium.[12]


Sprinter van on Polzeath Beach in June 2014

Whitby Morrison converts production vans into ice cream vans for the mobile soft ice cream industry. Their products have been exported to over 60 countries.[7] It has mainly converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinters or Ford Transits, both popular vehicles in the UK. The UK's biggest ice cream van manufacturer, the firm produces around 100 vans a year: 60 new, 30 conversions and 10 vintage van conversions.[7]

All new vans are built on a Euro 6-compliant Mercedes Sprinter chassis, which meets rules for particulates and NOx emissions.[1]

An electric motor-drive (EMD) system is installed in 80% of the vans Whitby Morrison builds, allowing vendors to switch off their engines and use mains electricity to run freezers and other equipment. EMD systems can also be retrofitted to existing vans. The company has also been developing a fully electric on-board battery system to power the Carpigiani soft-scoop machines it fits, meaning vans' engines can be turned off when they are parked.[7][1] The first all-electric van was expected to be delivered in the summer of 2019.[13]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Stuart Whitby was appointed a director of the football club in February 2020.[8][10]
  1. ^ a b c Hodges, Ben (23 September 2019). "Sundae driver: meet the all-electric ice-cream van of the future". Auto Express. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Morse, Peter (13 July 2016). "Tributes pour in from across the world for Crewe's ice cream van pioneer". Crewe Chronicle. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  3. ^ "WHITBY SPECIALIST VEHICLES LIMITED (Company number 01095664)". Companies House. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  4. ^ Hurley, Paul (2019). A-Z of Crewe: Places-People-History. Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445695082.
  5. ^ a b "Historical timeline of Whitby Morrison: Six decades of excellence". Whitby Morrison. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  6. ^ Ward, Anna (28 January 2015). "Valid and infringed: SUPERDRY gilets and ice cream". Lexology. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Evans, John (23 March 2020). "Behind the scenes at Britain's ice-cream van HQ". Autocar. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Stuart Malcolm WHITBY". Companies House. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Whitby Morrison Extend Partnership (7 August 2020)". Crewe Alexandra F.C. CAFC. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  10. ^ Morse, Peter (1 April 2020). "Investing in great escape made perfect sense for new Crewe Alex director Stuart Whitby". Cheshire Live. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Whitby Morrison agree to one of the longest sponsorship deals in sporting history". CreweAlex.net. 22 July 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  12. ^ "WHITBY MORRISON WHIP UP MORE SUPPORT FOR THE DABBERS (7 August 2020)". Nantwich Town FC. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  13. ^ Tapper, James (2 June 2019). "A 99, sprinkles and no diesel: here come the electric ice-cream vans…". Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  • Whitby, Stuart; Earnshaw, Alan (1999). Fifty Years of Ice Cream Vehicles, 1949–99. Appleby: Trans-Pennine ISBN 978-1-903016-08-4

External linksEdit