Hill’s Fish and Chip Shop, Percy Main

During the war, there was a shortage of paper and you sometimes had to take a large dish or dishes in place of paper.

 

During the wars and for some time after, one of the things we three boys had to do was queue for fish and chips. This took so long, sometimes 2-3 hours, and we did it in shifts. The queue was huge and moved slowly. During the war, there was a shortage of paper and you sometimes had to take a large dish or dishes in place of paper. My father would only have haddock. We often got to the front to get served to be told there was none. So, often when we got home, my dad had only chips so my mother had to find something to go with them. Not an easy job when everything was so scarce, but my dad never complained. We, and my mother shared the two cod and chips.

My mother, when I look back, must have been worried sick about us and making ends meet must have been a nightmare, but we were never aware of it. We were always warm, well fed and above all, very happy.

Mr Hill peeled the potatoes in his wash-house in the backyard. He had some sort of mechanical peeler. A steel drum lined with a rough surface was spun at speed and took the skin off. He then took any eyes out or bad bits off with a knife. The yard was awash with water spilling over from large barrels full to the brim with potatoes and water, a hosepipe running into the peeler. From there they were taken in buckets into the shop and chipped as and when they were required.

As I said previously, helping Mr Johnson with his horse was a joy for me. Mr Hill had a lovely home and a beautiful rubber wheeled trap and he would often, on Sundays, take me out in it. We would go at a trot right up around Backworth, Seaton Delaval on a lovely day with the wind blowing my hair and people looking at you as you swept past. Did I feel good! Mr Hill and all his family were so kind to me as were all the people of Percy Main.

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