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Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010
Battering and frying in Guiseley
John Noakes outside Harry Ramsdens
Two West Yorkshire institutions Harry Ramsden's and John Noakes - Blue Peter presenter

With news that Harry Ramsden's has been sold to a Birmingham businessman we look at Leeds' culinary giant.

It was in December 1928, that Harry Ramsden began serving his portions from a small, striped, wooden hut beside a tram stop in Guiseley.

The takeaway was a success and three years later, Ramsden opened a sit-down fish and chip shop on the site.

This is still a popular destination 80 plus years later.

The shop, a Leeds institution, sells eat-in fish and chips in some style, in a decor including wooden panelling and chandeliers. It is claimed to be the largest fish and chip shop in the world.

This restaurant had one of its busiest times when it served 10,000 portions during a single day in 1952. There was a reason for this activity, prices had been reduced to celebrate the shop's 25th anniversary.

In 1988 the Guiseley restaurant claims to have beaten that record, serving 10,182 portions in a day.

More recently the original single restaurant near Leeds has grown into a chain of shops, some even sited outside the UK.

And how's this for a trivia fact? Harry Corbett of Sooty fame was a nephew of Harry Ramsden, and Corbett occasionally played the piano in his uncle's restaurant.

Fishy business

Leeds has many great fish and chip shops and is also home to the National Federation of Fish Friers (its headquarters are in Meanwood).

Chips
Chips an essential part of Britain's great takeaway

What is the history of this British snack? Hard facts are a bit thin on the ground but both Lancashire and London stake a claim to the origin of the meal.

Chips were the staple fare of the industrial north while fried fish was introduced in London's East End.

Author Charles Dickens refers to fried fish warehouses in Oliver Twist written in 1838, the cold fish was then sold by street vendors.

Maybe the first fish and chip shop appeared in Mossley, near Oldham, in 1863, though there is a claim of a London vendor working three years earlier. The National Federation of Fish Friers is celebrating the food's 150th anniversary in 2010.

Such was its importance to morale, and diet, fish and chips was the only take-away food not rationed during the Second World War. Lord Woolton, wartime Minister of Food, even allowed mobile frying vans to carry fish and chips to evacuees around the UK.

Despite the rising popularity of other styles of takeaway there are thought to be around 8,500 fish and chip shops across the UK, selling 250,000,000 fish and chip meals every year. That's a lot of batter.




SEE ALSO
Buyer plans fish and chip empire
20 Jan 10 |  Bradford


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