Serving Fish and Chips Since1908

The original founder was John Arthur Ridout (1863-1953) who first opened a ‘fried fish restaurant’ at 132 Walcot Street, formerly the Don Cossack pub, in about 1908. He then started additional businesses, with family members, in Augusta Place (Weston), Claverton Street (Widcombe) and 10 Kingsmead Square, amongst others. His son, Reginald Frank Ridout (1891-1966) managed the latter shop at the outset of WWI and on his return from Germany – he remained a fish restaurateur for about fifty years, until his death.

In 1942, Reginald Ridout moved his family and business from Kingsmead Square over the road to take up premises in an old cake shop at 38a Kingsmead Street, where the current Seafoods Restaurant stands.

He refurbished the premises and put in a reinforced shop floor, providing structural support for a restaurant below – this came in handy as an air raid shelter and was used as such. On the first night of the Blitz in April 1942, the shop’s brand new plate glass window was blown out by the force of a nearby explosion and the family were forced to evacuate temporarily to Bradford-on Avon.

Reginald Frank Ridout. This image was taken from a black and white home movie made around 1938.

Entrance to the air raid shelter, 1942

Kingsmead Street from Kingsmead Square, 1963.

A car parked outside the Fish & Chip shop at 38 Kingsmead Square and causing a stir for the London to Brighton rally. Reginald was a true car enthusiast and probably popped out to take this picture.

The Story Continues…

After the war, Frank resumed business, doing a roaring trade with the theatre crowd, his late-night gatherings of audience and star performers such as Tarrant Bailey, the legendary English banjoist and music hall star Jack Burke would run until 3 in the morning.

His granddaughter Karen Francis, remembers fondly of how she was sometimes given a ride in the dumb waiter which was used to ferry food from the shop to the restaurant downstairs. She also recalls the red and white checked tablecloths and thick white china bone handled fish knives and forks. Out the back the one of the 2 Canadian born Talbot brothers would fillet the fish as it came in fresh. The room he worked in was very cold because they used marble worktops and it was constantly being hosed down. Reginald was a lover of gadgets and took pride in his potato rumbling machine and chipper, both probably ahead of their time in those days! Naturally over the years the shop and its fittings are have been updated, but the dumb waiter is still in situ and the potatoes are still rumbled!

And it’s haunted!

It would seem that at least one member of the Rideout family is still taking an interest in our shop. We call her the lady in “lavender,” says a current staff member.

“There’s a really strong smell of lavender in the storeroom at different times. It makes you feel a bit funny. And when walking through the passage way you often pass through an icy cold spot. I’m not joking.”

Today’s owner Ian Menzies is a trained chef and has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants such as le Gavroche. “This ghost is not malicious. It’s like she’s just keeping an eye on the place.”