I’ve had a bit of a lull in my posting as it’s been a very busy few months. At last, here I am with another one.I keep thinking I’ll run out of ideas to post about but so far I haven’t. I welcome ideas for topics for me to explore.


Here in Britain nowadays ‘Let’s get a takeaway (or takeout in some parts of the country).’ can lead to anything from Chinese, Indian, Thai, Pizza, burger, kebab – even the humble fish and chip meal from the local chip shop. Starting with my own memories, back in the 50s and 60s, when I was a child, the only ‘takeaway’ available (and the word didn’t even exist at that time) was the ubiquitous fish and chip shop. Some had tables where you could sit in and eat, many sold only food to take out. We always referred to ours as the chip shop. In different parts of the country the fish and chip shop is known as the chippy, the chipper and here in Yorkshire as the fish shop or sometimes the fishery. Our nearest town in mid-Wales had two chip shops and the locals were all loyal to one of them and never used the other. In Britain old newspapers were traditionally used for wrapping fish and chips until this was banned for health reasons in the 1980s. Many people are nostalgic for this traditional wrapping; some modern fish and chip shops wrap their food in faux-newspaper, food-safe paper printed to look like a newspaper.


Musing on this subject the other day I wondered when food to take out first became available here from eating places other than chip shops. As far as I remember, the earliest foreign cuisine here was Chinese followed by Indian and I only recall them being places where you sat in to eat. So I decided to look into the history of the British takeaway.

Image result for chinese restaurants 1950s        Image result for indian restaurants 1950s uk

1950s Chinese and Indian restaurants –  some of the UK’s earliest tastes of food from other countries.


Researching, I found a wealth of information on the history of restaurants in the UK but little about the rise of the takeaway. However, this extract from Consumer Culture and Chinese Food in Britain by Mike Featherstone and Tomoko Tamari gives an explanation.

‘According to data made available by the Hong Kong government Office in London, there were 1,406 Chinese restaurants in the United Kingdom in 1970. These restaurants were influenced by the economic setback of Britain in the 1970s, with people unwilling to pay high prices when they ate out. In response, many of the New Territories immigrants have opened take-out Chinese food shop, which are cheaper than restaurants. Another reason could be the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) which was resented by most Chinese restaurants and can be seen as further encouraging customers to switch from restaurants to more economical takeaways and fish and chip shops, which require fewer staff and were not subject to VAT. These takeaways could be operated by a family unit and ‘require only ‘hole-in-the wall’ premises. They were able to make good profit as a result of their low cost conditions.’


Related image

I didn’t know this until now.

Typical scene from a London chip shop


A familiar scene inside a British chip shop.



Image result for fish and chip shops uk 1950s      Image result for Harry ramsden's 1950s


Image result for fish and chip shops uk 1950s  Image result for fish and chip shops uk 1950s


12 thoughts on “Takeaways

  1. Fish and chips, which were wrapped first in a piece of white “butchers’ paper” and then in newspaper, were our standard Friday night fare. For me, there’s something special about the combination of smells – fish, chips, vinegar and warm newsprint. I still miss it when I buy fish and chips in a hygienic little cardboard box, which doesn’t keep them nearly as warm on the way home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sigh..i KNEW I had missed one of your posting! A time of tossing the schedule..hither and fro..as we have adoped a 45 pound dog..from the humaine society in our area. After a month..of medical treatments..then spaying..she is..at almost 7 years..becoming..trusting, and protective here. I have never had a small dog..never lived with them..in house. We..are learning..and so..the husband with dementia..is also. Hello black dog..is his kindly comment..over the days time frame. As to takeout.. when I was in high school..it was mainly milkshakes..and sundaes. Then..about 1954..it became..hamburgers/fries/and hot dogs on a stick..with enough mustard..to fill the car bonnet. How we ate..THAT much mustard..is very odd. I try to eat over a teaspoon of mustard..at a time now..and the idea of a third CUP..going in? My god!! No matter how many corn dogs..i’d be in the emergency room..now. I remember Chinese take out..from the college years on. The bamboo or plastic decorated sticks for eating..often ended up in the upswept hairstyles..of..the period. Then during the Vietnam era/battles..many were sent little decorative bits and pieces..from their soldiers..and those trinkets..would find their way..via glue and artistic creativity..onto..the end of the sticks..as, dangling decorations. Very lovely..attractive. I had fairly short hair..so never was able to use them..but I had always..WISHED that I did. ina

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    • Ina, your comments are always so interesting and informative! Sorry to hear your husband is battling dementia. I learn so much from responses from readers in different parts of the world. Thanks for sharing your memories. Meryl


  3. Very interesting! Love the photos! From my own childhood in the 70s, I remember pizza being the big thing from abroad, that we ate. Then, there was Chinese food and slowly Indian restaurants and others came along. This post makes me want to find out more about this in Sweden also – thanks!

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