By John K. Walton
In contrast to different associations of crucial significance to working-class existence, the fish-and-chip alternate has no longer but been rescued from what the writer of this booklet regards because the gigantic condescension of posterity. In trying to commence this approach, he lines the origins of what was once via 1914 a major nationwide undefined, surroundings the industrial, social and political context of the alternate, charting its unfold and interpreting its assets and strategies of offer. The publication explores topics like: recruitment styles of decentralized, provincial trades; equipment of operating; the function of ladies within the foodstuff of the interval; and the purpose, and effectiveness, of alternate companies. It additionally presents a survey of the impact of handy, affordable, ready-cooked meals on working-class vitamin, future health, way of life, economic climate and politics.
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Extra resources for Fish and Chips, and the British Working Class, 1870-1940
55 The next decade or so saw a further string of initiatives. Leeds became particularly well-endowed, as Henry Youngman's city-centre restaurant was joined by Harry Ramsden's famous venture on the outskirts at Guiseley. Chatchip remembered that it was 'considered, by myself and by the hundreds of friers who subsequently visited it, the best set of premises for a fried fish restaurant that had, to that date, ever been devised'. Ramsden's opened in 1931, with seats for 200 people. It soon acquired wall-to-wall carpeting, leaded windows, chandeliers (though not yet crystal ones) over the tables and music.
74 This pattern began to emerge at the turn of the century and the Italians seem to have been in at the start of the fish and chip trade in Scotland. Their numbers increased from about 750 to over 4,500 between 1890 and 1914 and they moved into the 'fish restaurant' business after beginning as vendors of statuettes and later icecream. Almost all of them came from villages around Barga, in Tuscany, and Picinisco, in the Val di Comino in the province of Frosinone. Most migrants to England came from elsewhere in Italy, but it is likely that many of the Scottish Italians would have passed through the Italian colonies in London and come into contact with the fish and chip trade there.
1 As Gerald Priestland points out, however, the book in question was first published in serial form between 1837 and 1839, which takes the origins of the trade back at least to the beginnings of Queen Victoria's reign. The biographers of the famous chef, Alexis Soyer, writing in 1859, took it for granted that fried fish was readily obtainable in the Soho of the early 1840s: who could believe that the elegant, white-kid gloved Soyer, chatting with and amusing a dozen different parties . . would afterwards quietly and slyly often dive into some obscure place and purchase two-pennyworth of fried fish!