NEW EVIDENCE has confirmed what many suspected – Mossley is home to the country’s oldest fish AND chip shop.
Joseph Malin opened his fried fish shop in 1860, in Bow, London – but he only sold fried fish.
Oldham’s Tommyfield Market claims to being the first place in England to sell fried chips – this was also in 1860.
But as many think, Mossley was the place where the two were put together, forming a staple meal for the country.
And research by local historian Rita Vaughan has backed that up
For John Lees was the first man to put both the fish and the chips together, doing so in the town in 1863.
He opened the Enterprise Supper Bar, on Mossley Market, in 1863 – the premises being a wooden shop.
Census records point to that being run on a part-time basis because entries for 1871 and 1881 show him as working in the cotton industry.
The 1889 Mossley Rate Book shows John Lees rented a shop on Stamford Street from Mossley Corporation.
Son Thomas rented a shop on Stamford Street from Mossley Corporation and together they rented land for a market.
And 1891’s census finally mentions Mr Lees Snr, who was living on Waterton Lane, as working in the food business – a refreshment room keeper.
From then, the enterprise boomed, and several family members became employed in the fried fish and chip business.
In 1967, the Mossley branch of the Royal British Legion presented a certificate to Roy Openshaw, the owner of the oldest fish and chip shop in the world.
A Legion spokesman said that the shop was declared to be the world’s oldest by the National Fish Friers Federation.
At the time they believed fish and chips had been fried on the premises since 1897, but new research by Rita has uncovered that it was since 1889.
John, who died in 1912, is buried at Mossley Cemetery, along with daughter Martha, who died in 1958, and his son-in-law Richard Leeming.
John’s name does not appear on the headstone.
Son Squire died in 1930, but his burial place is unmarked. Son Channing, who died in 1952, and son Thomas, who died in 1958, do have headstones.
However, his legacy lives on as a fast-food takeaway outlet, Man’s Wok, still trades in the premises at 41 Stamford Street.