A Brief History of Fish and Chips

Bizzie Lizzie's Fish and Chips

4:35pm 11th January 2018
(Updated 4:47pm 11th January 2018)

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Fish and Chips are one of our favourite dishes but where did it all start? Bizzie LIzzie's in Skipton looks back to the start and talks about how they stay on top... and it's about a lot more than battered cod and haddock. 

There's no denying that fish and chips are an absolute staple of northern cuisine. But have you ever wondered how and when the iconic pairing came together, and how modern fish and chip shops are keeping with the times? Here's a brief guide to the history of the British Classic:

17th Century: Western Sephardic Jewish settlers prepare fish in a manner similar to 'Pescado Frito', which is fish coated in flour and fried. 

1859: Charles Dickens makes the first recorded reference to 'chips' in the book 'A Tale of Two Cities': 'Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil'

1860: Two centuries after the first settlers, the first dedicated fish and chip shop opens in London. Established by Joseph Malin, it served fish 'fried in the Jewish fashion' with  'chipped potatoes'

1910s: By 1910 there were over 25,000 fish and chip shops in the country, which grew to over 35,000 by the 1920s.

1937: George Orwell writes 'The Road to Wigan Pier', in which he calls fish and chips a 'home comfort' of the north. 

1940s: Fish and chips are one of the few foods not rationed in World War 2, but the lower availability of fish leads to long queues at fishmongers and fish and chip shops.

1986: Belmont Bridge Fisheries on Swadford Street, Skipton, is bought by the same family who still own and run Bizzie Lizzie's restaurant today.

The history of fish and chips in the UK starts over 400 years ago, but Skipton fish and chip restaurant Bizzie Lizzie's have managed to retain their title over and over again as one of the best fish and chip shops in the UK - so how have they done it?

Customer loyalty, responding to customer demand, and adapting to the modern understanding of illnesses like coeliac disease. Bizzie Lizzie's Swadford Street branch is accredited by Coeliac UK to give gluten-free customers peace of mind.

In a culture that is more and more conscious about the environmental impact of our actions, branches like Bizzie Lizzie's who have committed to efficient fryers, low energy lighting, and recycling are well equipped to last well into the future. 


Ben Franklin from Stray FM's Food and Drink Show went to find out how a modern fish and chip shop stays ahead of the times with Katie at Bizzie Lizzie's in Skipton. 

More Food and Drink Show goodies from Harrogate, Craven and Wharfedale here.

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