For the second week of Stories from Egham High Street, Chiara met the manager and a shop assistant of the local Fish and Chip shop; Big Fry. 178 High St, Egham TW20 9EJ.
When I arrived at the Big Fry Fish & Chip shop I was warmly welcomed by the shop manager and shop assistant. They are both very friendly and, after explaining about Our Changing High Street project and its purpose, I showed them a photo portraying a man and a young boy standing in front of their shop when it was a saddler shop during the early years of the 20th century. The door and window borders are painted black and on the sign on the top is written F.H. HYDE Saddler and harness maker. This same photo is currently displayed as part of the project’s exhibition and still visible at the Egham Museum.
Both of my interviewee’s were very interested when looking at the photo, and were more than happy to have a chat with me. The conversation was occasionally interrupted by clients who pop in to buy fish and chips (which surprises me as it is just 4pm on a very warm day!).
They take part in conversation together, but it’s in particular the young manager who speaks. The following is the extract of what he told me:
“I’ve been working here since 2009, but in 2011 we had a new owner. When I started here it used to be called “Deep blue Fish and Chips” and when the new owner arrived the name changed into Big Fry Fish and Chips. The owner is not always here, he comes and goes. So I’m always here to manage the shop by myself.
I don’t remember very much about how this place was before. I know that it has been a saddler shop and then a fish & chips shop but I don’t remember if there was something else in between. It was smaller before, then with the renovation they made the room bigger. I don’t think the current owner did much renovation because it was already in a quite good shape.
Egham is a nice and calm area and it’s getting bigger and bigger due to the students. But we still have many clients who have been clients for many years. At the end we see always the same faces. We also see the students coming to buy fish and chips here, but the best way to get to know the area and its inhabitants is through the older generation who have been living here for decades. The most interesting thing for you would be just sitting there at the side and watch and listen to the people who come and go. They know everything about Egham, and they remember very much about its past.
I think Egham is still beautiful, but in my opinion is getting worse because of the students. They have a different lifestyle, they want to go out and get drunk, and they are very noisy. It was very calm before, now with them it is less calm. Yeah, it’s busier and less boring with them, but prices are increasing so much. They knocked down some pubs, old buildings and houses at the end of the road, to build new flats. Then, all these flats are immediately rented to the students. They are speculating a lot with them. So, with high prices, families and local residents are moving away, they go to live somewhere else.”
Follow us next week for the next story from Egham High Street….
(Header photograph: aerial view of the High Street, with thanks to the late local photographer, Fred Parkin)