Harry Ramsden opens 1st Fish and Chip Shop


Harry Ramsden opens 1st Fish and Chip Shop

Leeds, West Yorkshire The 20th of December 1928 AD

The best businessmen, the ones who found empires, are usually visionaries, able to see opportunities where others see problems. So it was with Harry Ramsden, uncrowned king of the chippie.

Harry Ramsden began in the fish and chip trade long before the famous Guiseley restaurant opened. He had a successful business in Bradford , open for lunch, dinner and evening treat every day of the year including Christmas. Business success is not just about good ideas, a bit of hard work never went amiss either!

When his wife was diagnosed with TB and doctors advised moving out of the polluted urban environment and into the country, Harry considered his options. Faced by plenty of doubters who thought you couldn’t sell fish and chips in the sticks, he set up in his old business again.

Starting in a tiny 10 foot by 6 foot wooden lock-up shed in White Cross, Guiseley, he had proved the doubters wrong within months, and three years on with backing – and hard cash – from his suppliers, he opened up a veritable fish and chip palace, complete with carpets and chandeliers.

In addition to his vision and sheer hard graft, Harry Ramsden was also a perfectionist. There were said to be 100 checks to be made before the restaurant could be opened. The recipes were precise, and had to be precisely followed, frying at the exact temperature indicated. Fish was only ever to be put in skinned-side first, then turned after two and a half minutes for the same again skin-side down. The place was kept truly spotless, stainless steel much in evidence long before it was fashionable in kitchens elsewhere.

In the Guiseley restaurant it is traditional to have fish and chips, bread and butter, and a cup of tea, a meal fit for a king – or at least a Prime Minister, at least two having dined there.

Harry Ramsden died in 1963, by then at the head of a successful company renowned throughout Britain and beyond. The company was eventually sold in 1999 to the Granada Group, who have spread Harry’s quality fish and chips gospel worldwide.

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