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Find out about bygone days of fish and chip shops in King’s Lynn at local history day

In his weekly The Bar Man column, Jeff Hoyle reminisces on his first-ever pub visit and discusses the fish and chip shops in Lynn...

It will be 50 years ago this Easter that I first went into a pub, The Abbey in Torquay.

We were staying in the town on a Geography field trip and after dinner and writing up our day’s work, we were free to go out in town.

Jeff Hoyle
Jeff Hoyle

Slightly under the legal drinking age we nevertheless were served, though the landlord did enquire about the age of one of my companions and advised us that we should not return after finishing our pints.

After that, it was the Falcon that we chose, though I do remember a night in the hotel lounge watching Roxy Music on the Old Grey Whistle Test, so I guess that we were not out all the time.

Back home when summer came around, it was time to investigate the local hostelries and we soon discovered that beer gave one an appetite.

Columnist Jeff Hoyle discusses the fish and chip shops in Lynn. Picture: iStock
Columnist Jeff Hoyle discusses the fish and chip shops in Lynn. Picture: iStock

Often our evenings would end with a visit to the fish and chip shop on the way home, though being from the north it was most likely to be a pie rather than fish especially as the legendary Hollands pies were widely available locally.

This came to mind as I was having lunch at True’s Yard and was asked if I would like to participate in a local history day with fish and chip shops as a theme.

It struck me that there is lots of information about local pubs available but very little about chippies.

Despite the rise in prices and changes in dietary preferences, they are still to be found all over town.

You may well have your favourite. Denny’s in Gaywood was popular enough to resist demolition when the Tesco supermarket was built, unlike the Ship pub which stood next door.

Bitson’s, near the old Post Office, seems to be a Lynn institution that has been there as long as I can remember.

There is River Lane, Loke Road near the Bentinck pub and one on Colombia Way.

During our permitted walks in lockdown we discovered Portland Place in South Lynn and regularly passed Rumbles on Wisbech Road.

True, some have closed. The one on London Road became, I think, a pizza place and Mr Brown’s (Charlie Brown’s according to my father) reinvented itself as a Chinese restaurant.

However, the closures have been balanced by the openings.

We often pop into The Crossing next to the Spar on Tennyson Road (not Tennyson Avenue, thank you) and are very pleased with the food and the service.

One thing that seems different to my youth is the opening hours. Maybe it is a geographical thing or a sign of the changing times, but they seem less likely to be open as the pubs turn out.

If you want a late-night snack the popular choice seems to be a kebab, while both the potato shop and the Waffle House seem to do brisk evening business.

I hope to come along to the study day on May 25th – look out for details, and uncover some of the history of fish and chip shops.

Were the shops traditionally in the fishing community where they could easily obtain the fish?

Do they cluster in the poorer areas of town providing a cheap, tasty and nutritious meal for those on a budget?

Did they originally just sell fish and chips and if so when did pies and sausages make their debut? Have the hours changed over the years?

Have the cooking methods changed perhaps with the substitution of lard and dripping by oil?

So many questions, some of which may never be answered, but providing plenty of food for thought.

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