Franketti’s Fish and Chip Shop

In my last post I made a passing reference to Franketti’s chip shop. My long-time friend, Eric Smith, for years my next-door neighbour, phoned me today and we discussed old Pontypool. As a result, I am indebted to him for much of what is included in this post.

For many years Franketti’s chip shop was a much-appreciated institution in our part of Pontypool. It was situated on the corner of the Bell Pitch and Bridge Street, and many people in our neck of the woods declared that you couldn’t get such fine fish and chips anywhere else.

Mr Franketti was assisted in the shop, mainly in the capacity of servers, by two sisters who lived in North Road, Louise and Elsie Grimson. They were all kept busy as there was invariably a long queue waiting to be served, often right around the small shop and out onto the steps. Children in the queue didn’t mind the wait as sometimes they would receive a few free chips on a piece of paper while they were waiting. I well remember being one of such a queue on many occasions and was always fascinated by the square chip chopper with the long handle. They made it look so easy!

Mr Franketti had a secret recipe for his fish batter and he had a habit of holding up the battered fish for customers to view before plunging it into the boiling fat. He was a proud Italian who produced good quality food at a reasonable price. Eric, with his parents and sister, were very regular customers at Franketti’s and he told me that  they would often buy fish and chips for all four of them for just one shilling. Sometimes, when they unpacked the parcel they would discover an extra free fish had been included.

When Mr Franketti died the shop passed on to the two sisters who had been his helpers so that the high quality was maintained; but after their day the business passed into other hands and the quality dropped.

The shop is now demolished. I suppose it’s a case of “Goodbye Mr Chips” in another context. Perhaps “Farewell Franketti” would be more appropriate.

In April 2010 I received an email from Rob Shipley of Jersey who lived in Pontypool to the age of nine and is the grandson of Elsie Grimson. I quote below part of his email which visitors might find of interest:

My aunt, Louise Day (known to everyone as Louie) probably did help out in the chip shop. She was my grandmother’s half-sister and her maiden name was Stevens. Her husband was Jack Day, who was in the Royal Navy before the War and later worked as what I believe was an armaments factory known as ‘The Dump’.

It is likely that my grandmother did inherit the chip shop when Mr Franketti died in the mid-1950s, but if she did, she did not run it for very long afterwards. After we moved to Jersey in 1960, she spent long periods with us in the Island, having retired. When in Pontypool she lived with the Days at 77 Bryn Wern.

I can remember my mother telling me that working in the shop was no easy life. My grandmother used to begin the day down in the cellar preparing fish which, at the crack of dawn, used to be delivered from Milford Haven.

*****    *****    *****    *****

In a previous post about the “Dig for Victory” campaign during the war, I referred to the fact that part of Pontypool Park was dug up to produce much needed food and stated that it was done by Penygarn School. It now seems that this was not entirely accurate as Eric informed me that he remembers his teacher, Mr Jarvis, at Park Terrace Junior School, asking the class to bring along to school some gardening tools so that they could cultivate a plot in the the park.

Eric remembers helping to harvest some of the crops. He was given a marrow to take home and it was the first time he’d ever tasted one. So, it seems that some credit for this digging for victory must also go to Park Terrace School.

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5 Responses to “Franketti’s Fish and Chip Shop”

  1. Clive Barnby Says:

    For some years – I was very young !! – I thought the chip shop was run by a Frank Kettie. There was also the ice-cream salesman, Sid Doley. I can still visualise “Sid” coming up North road from the Broadway on his motorbike. We kids would rush in the house for a thruppenny bit (or whatever) to buy a “cornet” – maybe one’s parents or grandparents would come out to buy a wafer.

    Sidoli would normally stop in the middle of the road (as there were no cars to worry about) near Les Pope the Butcher. Les had a small shop just over halfway up North road on the left-hand side from the Broadway. There was a path to their house which fronted on to Moreton street. Les had a son, John, who was a few months older than me.I

    In the mid-50s they moved to another shop facing North road on the Sowhill which we pronounced as “Sowell” or even “Sawl”. At the time, there were several shops there, a post office & towards the Bell pitch on the left-hand side between Moreton street & East View, there was another chip shop about which I remember or knew very little – it didnt have Franketti’s standing !!

    Another famous character was Joe Williams who had the Forgehammer on the corner of North road. In the 50s, of course, there were no betting shops & the only way you could place a bet on a horse (legally) was if you were at the racecourse. However Joe ran a “book” & if someone wanted to put a shilling on a horse, they’d write the name of the horse & race on a piece of paper. Joe always walked slowly up North road about the same time every day – again in the middle of road – so if anyone wanted to place a bet they knew when he’d be passing.

    My grandfather would write out his bets on a piece of paper with a “blacklead” & often give the paper & the money to me to give to Joe when he passed by. I guess this was less conspicuous than his coming out or putting bets on in the pub, though possibly it was something to which “the law” turned a blind eye. I occasionally got a sixpence from my grandfather if he was lucky. Sixpence from Joe if my grandfather was unlucky which was more often !!

  2. Terry Stundon Says:

    Les Pope was a great friend of my father’s. I can still smell his tobacco pipe and see his rounded face under that cap. I can picture Les and Marie perfectly even now. I’m a year younger than their youngest son, David Pope.
    The Pope’s lived opposite my auntie and uncle who lived in number 24 and my grandparents who lived in number 25.

    The shop at the junction of High Street/Moreton Street was “Honeybun’s” or later, “Gwen’s”. Lower down High Street was Huntingdon’s fish shop and Trevor Morgan’s, the cobbler. Outside The Colliers was Cornfield’s “green shed” shop.
    Somewhere in between was the front entrance to Grey’s (?), later to become Mick Jones’s garage.

    Higher up was Brown’s (Later “Billy Evans’s”), Wigley’s (Bennett’s to many) and another one who’s name escapes me (Mrs Harris’s?). I’ll never forget the geese she kept at tne backof te shop.

    Les moved his business into the corner of High Street and The Coedcae. Brian Wotley later took over until the premises saw it’s final commercial use as a PO.

  3. Terry Stundon Says:

    “…… that he remembers his teacher, Mr Jarvis, at Park Terrace Junior School…..”.

    Our back garden in Brynwern used to back on to “Jasper’s orchard” (Mr Jarvis’s allotment/garden.
    My father had built a very large workshed between the two gardens and as kids, we’d climb over that shed to get to those beautiful apples (And strawberries) but sneakily, we would remove a few of the panels at the back/bottom of the shed before “going over the top”.
    This gave us the very necessary element of a surprisingly rapid escape from “Jasper”. He was as fit as a fiddle and he would chase us for miles. Even though he was probably three or four times our ages, he always caught at least one of us and when he did, boy, could he swing a dap!

    Throughout my early years I, like many others, was absolutely terrified of “Jasper” and it wasn’t until I had matured a little that I realised that although he was very firm, he was scrupolously fair.
    Mr Jarvis and his wife were truly “beautiful people” once you got to know them.

  4. Clive Barnby Says:

    Enjoyed reading Terry’s accounts. I’d forgotten the names of a no. of the businesses/shops on the High Street (or never knew them), probably because I was quite young – about 7-8 – when my parents moved from North Road to Upper Cwmbran (tho’ I continued to go to Town School til I was 11).

    I do now remember the Bennetts shop & Mrs Harris’s. I think there was another cobbler in North Road – on the left from the High Street, just past the shop – might have been attached to the rear of the shop?

    John Pope was my best friend for a few years as Les’s shop was almost opposite my grandparents house at No. 88 North Road, & John was just a few months older. I think there were a few years between John & his brother, David, who – I believe – now lives on the Broadway, & John lives in Cwmbran.

    I began to lose touch with John when Les took over the shop on the High Street – also partly because, tho’ John was only a few months older, his birthday was August (I think) & mine October, so we ended up in different school years, classes at Town School.

    There was a Graham “Lofty” Newman, who was my age & I believe he lived in Gwent Street or Haden Street, but dont know if he was related. Didnt know or can’t recall any other Newmans.

  5. Glenys Hughes Says:

    I believe the ice cream man on his motor bike was savinnis from George street,the old man was jake,best ice cream in the valleys.thoroughly enjoyed all the history of pontypool, I was born at upper race,now living in llanharan.

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