A chip shop which has been serving customers in a Derbyshire town for more than 60 years is closing due to cost of living crisis.
Owner Dennis Jackson, 84, said his age and the rising cost of food and energy were behind the decision to shut Jackson’s Chippie in Ilkeston.
The keen cyclist said: ‘It’s been an exciting time. I can’t say it’s been boring – that’s what’s kept me here for so long. To be honest I do feel sad but age is a peculiar thing. Since I’ve been in my 80s, in cycling terms, it seems to be all uphill.
‘There’s no secret to it but I think when you do reach this age the thing not to do is stop so want I need to do is get back on the bike and plenty of gardening and eat less chips.’
Mr Jackson was 22 when he first started out in 1961. After leaving the Royal Air Force he said he quickly discovered that working in an office as a shorthand typist wasn’t for him.
Owner Dennis Jackson (pictured), 84, said his age and the rising cost of food and energy were behind the decision to shut Jackson’s Chippie in Ilkeston, which he opened in 1961
In 1976, Mr Jackson closed the shop for a month – his very own ‘great potato strike’ to protest at a fivefold increase in the price of spuds. But rising prices now have convinced him to turn off the fryers
A friend of his father’s said he could work peeling potatoes in a chip shop.
‘After a day, he said I was a born natural,’ he said.
‘It just seemed to suit me and I got all my money together, sold my scooter and bought my own place.’ Jackson’s Chippie, known locally as Jackos, first appeared in Market Street before moving to its current location, further down the same road, in 1982.
He was living in a flat above the shop until he met his wife Margaret and went on to have three sons. Harvey, Mark and Paul have all worked at the shop.
His time at the fish shop has taken in decimalisation in 1971.
‘It was Marg’s idea to change immediately so I organised two hourly classes for a week and six of us taught ourselves the ins and outs of it, helped along with a few bottles of Blue Nun, the drink of the day at that time, to ease the pain,’ he told the Nottingham Post.
In 1976, he closed the shop for a month – his very own ‘great potato strike’ to protest at a fivefold increase in the price of spuds.
The same year, after Jaws was released at the cinema, Mr Jackson acquired a 4ft shark.
‘We displayed it in a bath of ice and people came and had a look at it. Then we skinned it and we served it. People loved it, they were getting their own back on Jaws,’ he said.
The chip shop moved to make way for a new ring road.
‘Fortunately 54 Market Street, which had been a solicitors’ office, was available so we bought this and wheeled all the equipment up the street into the front door and we’ve been in here every since,’ he said.
The chip shop celebrated its 40th anniversary by rolling the prices back to 1961. Customers queued around the block to get their hands on a bag of chips for 2p and fish, chips and peas for 8p. The day raised more than £1,000 for Ilkeston Community Hospital.
The chip shop celebrated its 40th anniversary by rolling the prices back to 1961. Customers queued around the block to get their hands on a bag of chips for 2p and fish, chips and peas for 8p
He said the last couple of years had been difficult. Chip shops have been particularly hit, due to the cost of sunflower oil and energy. He said the price of fish went up by £100 in the space of a fortnight, while the shop’s gas bill is set to quadruple.
‘It was a bit of a shock. You can’t absorb that sort of price increase so you’d just got to pass it on. That made my fish instead of being £3.60 it went up to £6. We had to put £2.40 on it just to stand still,’ he said.
Add on chips and it’s currently £7.80.
‘I think it’s cheap compared to other shops but for a lot of people it’s made it too expensive so trade’s not so good. Fish and chips should be the cheapest meal out, but it’s a struggle for a lot of people.
‘Anybody can stand here and give the stuff away, but you still need to make a bit of profit at the end of the day.’
He still works at the shop, starting at 7am four days a week to get the marrowfat peas on to heat, prepare the fish, make the meat pies and chicken curry, and chip the potatoes.
But has cut back on his hours and now leaves at 11am when his employees take over, frying for the lunchtime crowd. Mr Jackson then returns at 3pm and fries until 8pm.
His wife Margaret helped in the shop until 20 years ago and she still washes all the aprons and T-shirts.
‘I think Margaret will be glad of the rest as well,’ Mr Jackson said. He added that he will feel emotional when he tips the last batch of chips into the fryer.
‘But the time’s right and you’ve got to have a bit of life afterwards.
‘I got through my 60s like a piece of cake, I sailed through my 70s quite all right but when I hit 80, I went a bit achy.
‘Nobody in my family lived until they were 90 – I intend to break that record.
‘What I’d like to say to the town is thanks for having me.
‘My customers are the best in the world.’
Jackson’s Chippie will serve its final customers on Saturday, April 8. All the takings will be donated to the Ilkeston hospital.