Consumers, Europe, UK, Ireland, Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurants, News June 2024, Processing, fries, chips, Retail

Sizzling success: The untold story of British women entrepreneurs in fish and chip shops

The role played by fish and chips in enabling British women to run their own businesses is being explored in an exhibition. According to the BBC’s Katy Prickett, organisers have delved into an archive held by True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum, King’s Lynn, and highlighted the role the shops played in society during their early years at the end of the 19th Century.

Gaynor Western, deputy manager of the museum in Norfolk, said many were set up as a supplementary income. “Some shops even provided opening hours to suit their most popular and female customers’ domestic timetables,” she said.

Fish and chips was considered too important to national
morale to be rationed in either world war.
Credit BBC

Miss Western said the Fish and Chips Heroes exhibition examined this connection.

“Women were not only permitted to open and run fish and chip shops on their own, women also queued side by side with men and children of all ages to buy their dinners,” she said.

‘Chippies’ soared in popularity across Britain in the latter half of the 1800s.

To discover their impact on the town, researchers analysed local trade directories and newspaper clippings in the museum’s Pat Midgley Research Centre, which holds 10,000 local historical documents, alongside digitised photographs.

“It’s fascinating to learn that King’s Lynn was the fish and chips capital of Norfolk and how important the fish and chips movement was to supporting so many aspects of social life and historical events at a national level,” said Miss Western.

By 1904, the town had five times as many fried fish dealers as Norwich and 12 times as many as Great Yarmouth.

“This is probably because Lynn was a busy port hosting many travellers, and also had a densely packed population who earned little, worked hard and needed good, cheap cooked food,” Miss Western said.

One well-known King’s Lynn “fish and chip hero” was Polly Goodson, of North End, “who helped many poorer local people through periods of hardship with her cheap and generous portions of a ‘piece and penn’th’”.

Fish and Chips Heroes is at True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum until 31 August.

Source: BBC News, Norfolk
Image: Credit BBC

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