SIGNS of local history disappear all too quickly in Britain, as chain stores , mod cons and homogenisation sweep across the land.
So much so, that at times you can drift from one town to another, visit the same places and feel as if they’re all the same. Imagine my delight, when I stumbled across the Upton Chippy.
The shop is now in it’s 63rd year since being opened in 1948 – and nothing has changed since. This chippy proudly boasts what is probably the last coal-fired frying range that is still operational in the country. Back in 1948, a coal-fired range was the only option available with which to cook and every village chippy in England would cook using coal.
Nowadays, gas or electric ranges are used alongside ‘easy’ ingredients in order to cater for mass demand, creating meals that bare little to no resemblance to the original processes and ingredients that gave that great British Fish And Chip taste in yesteryear. Thankfully, the folk at Upton Chippy are still here, doing it the good old-fashioned way – with time-honoured methods and fresh ingredients. They never use fish that has been frozen or defrosted and they’re famed for their ‘special recipe’ batter.
Needless to say, the reputation of the Upton Chippy certainly precedes it. However, I was certainly not disappointed. The Chippy is a very small and cosy single-room building, but the regulars were queuing out of the door. It was my first time visiting, but I was treated as a regular myself. The service was warm, friendly and more than welcoming.
The menu is succinct but effective. I went for haddock and chips with mushy peas. You could certainly taste the difference. Every part of my meal was packed with flavour and a certain authenticity I’ve never had at a chippy before. The portions were generous too – I’m quite glad I didn’t opt for the ‘jumbo haddock.’
A wee pot of curry sauce wouldn’t have gone a miss, but I’m not sure if it existed in British chip shops in 1948.
All in all, I’d say there’s certainly magic in their methods.
My only other complaint is that it’s only open on Friday nights and Saturday lunchtimes, but perhaps that means you’ll make that extra special effort to get there and experience it. After all, they certainly make an extra special effort for you.
So if you want a taste of the past with a side order of character, honesty and high quality, then you’d better make sure you visit the Upton Chippy this weekend.
By Andrew Trendell