Chip shops gear up for the Good Friday rush with bumper fish landings at Grimsby Docks

Fish and chip shops are in full steam with plenty of supplies to meet demand ahead of the traditional Good Friday surge.

Grimsby Fishing Docks had their busiest week so far this year with more landings in the last two days than in the previous two weeks. A can of fish cost over £200 a fortnight ago but now prices have fallen and cans cost £150 to drive prices high at fishmongers in North Lincolnshire.

Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises managing director Martyn Boyers welcomed the traditional increase in demand and said it had been the busiest week of the year so far. Much of the fish had arrived from Iceland and Norway with good supplies of cod and haddock.

Read more: Tried Cleethorpes’ worst-rated fish and chips on TripAdvisor – and was pleasantly surprised

He said: “Demand is up and supplies are up and everything is sold out. We’ve sold more in two days than in the last two weeks. There are a lot of people at the docks and it’s a good problem to have.”

A total of 225 tonnes of fish were landed, of which approximately 30% cod and 70% haddock. The boss of the fishing piers said: “There will be no shortage of fish and there will be plenty of fish available in shops and in fish and chip shops.”

Tins of fish ready for distribution from Grimsby Fish Market

Prices in stores rose due to delivery costs, fuel and gas, and wages. Ernie Beckett’s staff at Cleethorpes Market Place are preparing for the extra demand.

Owner Davey Smith, who has been serving customers for over 15 years, said: “We are preparing for this. Using my experience, I make sure there is enough stock and staff. Good Friday will be the busiest day.”

He said he had ordered extra fish, sausages and pies and could buy extra bags of potatoes from the Louth Potato Company and have them delivered within hours, if needed. His restaurant remained closed due to fears about the potential spread of the coronavirus and to keep customers safe.

With the rise in reported cases in North Lincolnshire, he said he wanted to be ‘100 per cent certain before opening the restaurant’. Beckett’s continued to provide delivery and collection from the popular Cleethorpes store where a regular fish and chips costs £6.75 and a giant meal costs £8.

Winners of the 2019 Grimsby Telegraph Food and Drink Award, Wybers Chippy on St Nicholas Drive prepare for Good Friday orders. Owner George Diakou said: “Every year we’re ready. There are a lot of people eating fish and chips on Good Friday. We’re lucky it’s a Grimsby tradition and we have a lot of Grimsby fresh fish. Plenty of parking and expect to be busy.”

Standard fish and chips cost £6.70. George said the days when a family could be fed fish and chips for less than a decade were over, due to rising petrol and gas prices. The tradition of fish dates back to biblical times.

Christians have abstained from eating meat on Good Friday for centuries and many people, religious or not, still only eat fish on Good Friday.

Many Christians do not eat meat on a Friday at any time of the year. Many Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The church has stated that you can only eat one full meal or two small meals a day.

For many, the declining meat shows unity in the suffering of Christ and shows a certain penance. Over 80 years ago, Grimsby was the largest fishing port in the world.

In March 1937, a colossal 6,266 tons of fish were landed in just four days for Easter – an all time record for the port. In a single day, Grimsby saw a record catch of more than 2,000 tonnes brought in, boxes stacked eight feet high in some places on the quay.

Then, in just three days, ships in the port landed 4,450 tons of fish, with over 100 ships bringing in 1,600 tons in a single day. In just two days, nine special trains transported 1,734 tonnes of fish to 3,000 to 4,000 stations in England and Wales – enough to feed 13,000,000 people.

To clear the Easter landings, 130 dockworkers had to be moved to the fish docks. The Grimsby Telegraph reported that 6,180 tonnes of fish were landed – enough to feed 27,686,400 people.

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