Fishmonger traces back five generations

Fishmonger, Chris Morgan, 'Chris the Fish', in his Steyning shop S10124H14
Fishmonger, Chris Morgan, 'Chris the Fish', in his Steyning shop S10124H14

FISH and chips are a British institution, so it is no wonder the new Saturday opening in Steyning has proved popular.

Fishmonger Chris Morgan extended the evening opening at his High Street shop to three days a week in mid-February, following demand from customers.

“So far so good,” he said this week. “We were the only take-away in town for years, so we kept to Wednesdays and Fridays for a long time while the children were little.

“Now they are interested in coming into the shop and a lot of people were asking for us to open on Saturdays, so we started it up.”

During the daytime, from Tuesdays to Saturdays, Chris, 47, is open for wet fish, including fresh local fish and smoked fish from Scotland.

“The fish comes in fresh every day, so it is constant good quality,” said Chris. “That is what has made us successful, keeping the quality up.”

Stock comes from wholesalers and local sources, including two fishermen who sell directly to the shop. Chris sells all the local fish – Dover sole, lemon sole, plaice, skate, cod, herring and mackerel, plus smoked fish delivered from Scotland, such as haddock, kippers and salmon.

Chris is in fact the fifth generation of fishmongers in his family and he believes his is the longest-standing shop in Steyning.

It all began with his great-great-grandfather back in 1880 in Peckham, London.

His great-grandfather, grandfather Charlie Morgan, and father, also Charlie Morgan, were all fishmongers in London, until the Peckham shop was knocked down in the slum clearance.

Chris’s parents wanted to get out of London and Steyning Grammar School had a good name, so as Chris was just about to start school, they moved to the town.

Chris said: “My father came down to Steyning in 1971 and opened the shop on Decimal Day. We have been here ever since.”

Once he was old enough, Chris used to help in the shop during the school holidays and in the evenings.

“When I was about 15, I was running the shop on a Saturday and when I was 16, I left school and came into the shop full time, working with mum and dad,” he added.

His mum died in 1988 and his dad kept going for a couple of years, retiring 18 years ago, when Chris took over with his wife, Debbie.

“People still come in and say they remember mum,” said Chris. “I think I am lucky because Steyning is a very loyal town. Many of the people I have been serving for ever and ever.”

Daughter, Amy, 18, helps out in the shop and Max, 12, has already learned how to fillet fish and clean them out.

“I don’t know if my children will carry on the tradition but they are happy to help at the moment,” said Chris, who was an only child.

“Back in the late 1800s, it was the done thing to follow your father, so that was the normal progression.

“My mum and dad did not push me into it at all but it seemed the natural path to take.”