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Beamish offers Edwardian-style fish and chips
Poster of ladies eating fish and chips
Edwardian fish and chips only cost one penny

If you like your fish and chips, then have you ever wondered how they would have tasted in Edwardian times?

Beamish is giving you the chance to find out this summer - when they open an Edwardian-style fish and chip shop.

Visitors will enjoy their old fashioned fish and chips cooked in beef dripping and served in the traditional way - in classic newspaper.

In Edwardian times they would only have cost one penny - but that is sadly one of the things that will be updated.

The shop will be built in the pit village and will be decorated in archive photographs and vintage tiles to take visitors back in time to the Edwardian era.

Kate Reeder, who works at Beamish and is helping to build the shop, said: "It was incredibly popular, probably more popular than it is now, as there wasn't as much choice - it was fish and chips or the pub."

Beef dripping

In Edwardian times it tended to be the lower classes who ate fish and chips.

Kate said: "It was popular with everyone, but the fish and chip shops were mainly only found in working class areas because of the smell, but it didn't stop the upper classes going for fish and chips.

"You would often see them in their top hats going for some after they had been out."

Beamish
The fish and chip shop will open in the summer in the pit village

The old style fish and chips were served in classic newspaper or greaseproof paper, but there were no wooden forks back then - they used their fingers.

Beamish will be mirroring the Edwardian traditions, but unfortunately not their prices.

Kate said: "It was very affordable, it would cost around one penny each for fish and chips."

The chips at Beamish will be cooked the old fashioned way in beef dripping, but there will be a vegetarian option as well.

Unlike modern chips shops, Edwardians stuck mainly to straight fish and chips or fishcake - there were no cartons of curry sauce or mushy peas back then.

Their portions also differed, having just a part of a fish rather than a whole one.

Keeping it local

The fryer they used would be similar to modern fryers, but instead of gas or electric they would use an old style coal fire.

The ranges for the shop will be restored to their original condition - which were very ornamental and decorated in traditional tiles.

The Mabbot Chip Range before restoration
The Mabbot Chip Range before its restoration

Kate said: "It's only the technology that has changed really, the rest is very much the same which I think is lovely.

"Returning the ranges to working order will be great, they've been in storage for years so when they are lit up it will be fantastic."

Chip shop owners would have incredibly long days - up at 5am and the shop wouldn't close till around midnight.

The fresh fish they used would always be bought locally, so the owner would go to their local fish market to get their supplies every morning.

There was no option to freeze or refrigerate the food as the cost was too high.

Some people would even have to go to their nearest train station to collect the fish they would get shipped in.

The Edwardian fish and chip shop at Beamish is hoped to be up and running in the summer.




SEE ALSO
The unlikely origin of fish and chips
18 Dec 09 |  Magazine
Beamish Museum at 40-years-old
02 Jul 10 |  People & Places
Beamish Museum goes back in time
10 Aug 09 |  History

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