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Iconic fish and chip shop to celebrate its 50th year alongside Aldeburgh Festival

PUBLISHED: 18:23 03 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:07 07 April 2017

Alan Cooney (left) with his father Peter (right), owners of the Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop. Picture: TONY PICK

Alan Cooney (left) with his father Peter (right), owners of the Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop. Picture: TONY PICK

Tony Pick

Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop is celebrating its 50th anniversary by teaming up with the Aldeburgh Festival.

Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop will be celebrating its 50th year at the Aldeburgh Festival. Picture: TONY PICKAldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop will be celebrating its 50th year at the Aldeburgh Festival. Picture: TONY PICK

It’s virtually impossible not to salivate at the succulent smell of freshly fried chips as you wander down Aldeburgh High Street.

With celebrities such as singer Ed Sheeran and actor Tom Hiddleston walking through its signature cobalt blue doors, Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop is one of the best-known fish and chip shops in Suffolk.

Long queues outside Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop are a regular sight. Picture: TONY PICKLong queues outside Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop are a regular sight. Picture: TONY PICK

A visit is a traditional part of a day by the sea at the resort – whether you choose to eat its beef-dripping battered fish and chips on the pebbled beach in front of the colourful houses along the seafront, or shelter from the rain and eat them in the car as you fog up the windows on the sea wall.

The three-generation strong shop is still a big success after 50 years, seeing people come from all over the country and withstanding huge queues – sometimes up to 200 yards and two hours long – just to get their hands on a portion of chips.

From starting up in 1967, the fish and chip shop has become an icon in Aldeburgh High Street - picture shows frying at the shop in the early daysFrom starting up in 1967, the fish and chip shop has become an icon in Aldeburgh High Street - picture shows frying at the shop in the early days

Since its opening on April 14, 1967, the Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop has continued to go from strength to strength, employing over 30 people across two shops and restaurant.

Grandson of the original owners Horace and Celia Cooney, Alan Cooney said: “We have always fried the same way. My grandparents originally took over the chip shop from a Yorkshireman who fried in beef dripping, which is very rare nowadays, but we have kept it the same and I think that’s what makes our fish and chips taste so good.

Horace Cooney at Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop writing up new opening times for Sundays back in 1982Horace Cooney at Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop writing up new opening times for Sundays back in 1982

“We’ve always done things the same way with same ingredients and similar menu. The only thing that has changed is the equipment as technology improves.

“We are very lucky with the location. Being efficient at what we do and keeping it simple is the key to our success.

Horace Cooney outside his fish and chip shop in Aldeburgh back in 1982Horace Cooney outside his fish and chip shop in Aldeburgh back in 1982

“We get orders for weddings and schools. Last year we had a charity auction for a queue jump ticket to jump the queue at any time. It was sold for £700 and the money went to the East Anglian Children’s Hospice, the RNLI and one other charity – it still hasn’t been used!”

Owner Peter Cooney, Alan’s father, opened the sister shop, The Golden Galleon, on July 12, 1997, followed by The Upper Deck restaurant on July 11, 2000.

Horace Cooney, owner of Aldeburgh fish and chip shop, announcing new open times for the chip shop on Sundays in 1982Horace Cooney, owner of Aldeburgh fish and chip shop, announcing new open times for the chip shop on Sundays in 1982

Remembering his family, Alan Cooney, 29, said: “My mum was a big part of the business, she passed away in 2010 the day before Aldeburgh Carnival, and we still had to open up shop the next day. One thing about us is that we keep going. My grandad was still involved with the business right up until he died in 1998, he never really retired.

“That’s something we are proud of, when you go through hard times and you lose someone and it’s a painful thing to go through, but we all worked together.

Singer Ed Sheeran has been spotted popping in for fish and chips at Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop. Picture: PASinger Ed Sheeran has been spotted popping in for fish and chips at Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop. Picture: PA

“It means so much to me that it’s been in my family for so long. It’s my whole family history and my entire identity is connected to the fish and chip shop.

“I’d like to think that grandad would be proud that it’s reached 50 years, and that’s what motivated me to continue being successful and to keep it going for my children.”

Actor Tom Hiddleston is one of several celebrities who have been spotted in the queue at Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop. Picture: IAN WEST/PA WIREActor Tom Hiddleston is one of several celebrities who have been spotted in the queue at Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop. Picture: IAN WEST/PA WIRE

The chips shop’s longest serving employee, Brenda Wells, who started working there in 1980, said: “I remember when we used to use newspapers for the wrapped orders and magazines for the open orders.

“The menu has changed over the years, when we started it was mainly cod, chips, plaice and Celia’s, who we all used to call ‘mother’, popular homemade fish cakes. We used to smoke the salmon in the yard as well.

Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop prices

Cod and haddock:

Small £2.60

Medium £3.80

Large £4.10

Extra Large £4.80

Hake – medium £3.80

Scampi – £3.50

Fish cake – 90p

Sausage – 80p

Chips – medium £1.60 / large £2.20

“We didn’t have tills when we first started; we just have trays and had to add up in our heads or used a paper and pen. Technology has improved and made the job so much better.

“I love the job. It’s so friendly and family orientated here. Customers know us and chat to us. I used to serve people when I had my children, now they are bringing in their children.”

Alan said: “It’s not just the Cooneys that have been the only family here, but other family generations who have worked here and then their children start.”

This year, to mark its 50th anniversary, Aldeburgh Fish and Chip shop is sponsoring the Bandstand on the Beach, part of the Aldeburgh Festival, which is also this year marking a golden moment, with 50 years of Snape Maltings Concert hall.

Alan said: “I am very proud, this is part of my family history so it means a lot. It feels great to meet the milestone and we are really excited about the event.”

The event, organised by Snape Maltings, will run from June 9-25. The public can enjoy a chip shop lunch with live music from 1pm.

This year will also celebrate 50 years of Snape Maltings concert hall, 70 years of the Aldeburgh Festival and 75 years of Aldeburgh Carnival.

1 comment

  • Lovely article! Congratulations on a landmark anniversary! I would like to say the Fish & Chip Shop has been there longer than 50 years. I know because my family owned it. It was a wet fish shop to begin with and then it became "Wet, Dried & Fried." My family lived above and my mother was born there in 1959. They left to run the greengrocers in Bevan Street in Lowestoft.

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    Alison-Jayne Pennell

    Saturday, April 8, 2017

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