Harry Ramsden’s Fish & Chip History

On relection

Caught in Whitby, fried at Guiseley and eaten out of newspaper our Yorkshire fish and chips, mushy peas and all were part of our staple diet. The real Harry Ramsden’s of our youth is no more, no longer a chandeliered temple, no longer a unique experience but a ‘brand a plastic food emporia‘ with no queues and little ambiance. Who cares that there are 170 outlets all over the world from Jedda to Edinburgh or that you can buy tinned mushy peas and a Morphy Richards fish fryer packaged under Harry Ramsden’s name. We just want great value Fish ‘n F’nurks in a gradely plaice ( I mean place).

The food is OK, the chandeliers are still there in Guiseley and it has had a lick o’paint but the happy consumers have so many other chippy choices and the whole Ramsdens experience is diminished. It is best summed up by Sir Findo Gask ‘ I avoid Harry Ramsden’s like the plague. The name remains but all that was outstanding about the original Guiseley chippie has long, long gone.’
So regrettably I have little more to say about the current state of affairs but will offer my view of when things started to go wrong.

Book Cover

Battered History

The business was started by Harry Ramsden in 1928 in a wooden hut at White Cross, Guiseley. Continue reading Harry Ramsden’s Fish & Chip History

Cat and Mouse Inventions

Chick on Mouse Trap

Yorkshire is full of inventive and innovative characters and none more so than the Inventors and Entrepreneurs of the Little Nipper mouse trap and Cats Eyes.

James Henry Atkinson was born in Leeds (1849-1942) filed applications for patents on several different inventions but the one he is most famous for is his mousetrap originally GB 13277 of 1899. After making several prototypes and versions he eventually came up with the trap he christened ‘The Little Nipper’ in 1909. ‘The Little Nipper’ is a simple device with a spring-loaded bar and a baited trip to release it. Cheese is the traditional bait but chocolate and peanut butter are said to work even better. The invention was successful because it did a job that needed doing in an effective manner and it had a brand that was licensed to a manufacturing company Procters who 100 years later are still selling Little Nippers.

If Little Nipper was the Mouse then on to the Cat and Percy Shaw of Halifax who was another long lived Yorkshire inventor (1890-1976). Percy’s ‘Cats Eyes’ were patented in 1935 and Reflecting Roadstuds Limited was founded in Halifax to manufacture them. The name Catseye was their trademark based on one of Percys (fanciful?) stories about a cat on a fence along the edge of a road that looked at the car, reflected his headlights back to him, allowing him to drive more safely. ‘In an interview with Alan Whicker he told a different story of being inspired on a foggy night to think of a way of moving the reflective studs on a road sign to the road surface. Further, local school children who were taken on visits to the factory in the late 1970s were told that the idea came from Shaw seeing light reflected from his car headlamps by tram tracks in the road on a foggy night. The tram tracks were polished by the passing of trams and by following the advancing reflection.’ wikipedia.
With media exposure and a world class product whose exports earned Percy Shaw the OBE he created one of Yorkshires most well known inventions.

Photo credit Chick on Mouse Trap by failing_angel CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Buy a Bit of Yorkshire

Yorkshire Flag

The Yorkshire Mafia Conference returns to The Royal Armouries for 2013 as ‘Buy Yorkshire’.
This is said to be ‘the best B2B conference and exhibition in the North of England’.

Yorkshire’s National Conference 2013 will be pushing the boundaries a bit further by adding some killer workshops, a very cool conference, an app that brings social media right into the very heart of Yorkshire business, plus some more surprises along the way.

Buy Yorkshire 2013 is without doubt an event of national standing and it is held right here in Yorkshire to celebrate all that is good about buying Yorkshire products and services. Do your bit for Yorkshire by doing business in, from and with Yorkshire, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Key Bits Stats

– 2 days, 2 halls

– 170 exhibitors

– the best brands

– the wealthiest self made business people

– a very cool conference app

To grab a piece of the action and buy a bit of Yorkshire check out this link or contact the Yorkshire mafia.

According to Richard Tyler in the Daily Telegraph ‘An online support network is adding muscle to companies doing business in the county. Yorkshire wit and whippets are the unlikely magic ingredients behind the latest business networking phenomenon to emerge on these shores. If Facebook is cool, then the “Yorkshire Mafia” is downright dangerous…’ read more

South Pennines Walk & Ride Festival

Riverside Walkers

If you want to stretch those leg muscles on a bike or long walk then the South Pennines may be the place to go. If you prefer to ride in style on horseback then you could do worse than try the Mary Townley Loop on your trusty steed. Fresh air and the right to roam should not cost us but these events are put on ‘for our benefit’  by our taxes so take full advantage.

Funding for this Pennine Extravagnsa

‘Leader’ (see the green boxy logo) is a European community-led approach to rural development, focusing on basic services for communities, culture and heritage, village development, and renewal. It is  funded Europe wide by  the European Union to the tune of 5,046 million euros over the last 5 years and is managed by Yorkshire Forward in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Further funding of £1.97 million is coming from the National Lottery for ‘The South Pennines Watershed Landscape’ project led by Pennine Prospects, a regeneration partnership.
‘ This part of the South Pennines runs up through the backbone of northern England, separating the major conurbations East Lancashire and West Yorkshire and consists of wide sweeping moorlands rich in wet bog, cotton grass, heathland and pastures with key habitats for wildlife, such as the rare ‘Twite’ which is also known locally as the ‘Pennine Finch’.’
It also receives the enthusiastic backing of the charity Pennine Heritage and 7  local authorities .

Do not let our extravagant quangos spoil a good walk get out and about in the South Pennines this September

Riverside Walkers by tj.blackwell CC BY-NC 2.0

Farmers Rural Enterprise

Sutton Bank
photo credit Sutton Bank by alh1 CC BY-ND 2.0

Economic times are hard and Yorkshire farmers are a major force for the economic good of Yorkshire and the country. Perhaps that is why there are several support schemes to encourage enterprise, diversification, environment, efficiency and even retail therapy in our rural areas. To get the full picture you need to talk to a lot of quangos including Yorkshire Forward, Business Link, Local Authorities and there associated brands like the Airedale Partnership.

Rural Enterprise Programme REIP

Grants for rural businesses start at £25,000. The percentage of funding available will generally range between 30% and 40% of the total project cost and is dependent on the type of activity being funded. The upper limit for funding varies depending on the type of activity proposed. According to Yorkshire Forward ‘Activity under the following areas can be supported:

Rural business growth—through innovative farm diversifications; rural micro-business creation and development; and investment in the tourism ‘product’. Additionally, land-based businesses will be supported through the development of collaborative ventures.
Investment in supply chains and added value—within the food and forestry primary processing sectors, including innovation and collaboration within the supply chain and on farm renewable energy and resource efficiency.’

Farm Resource Efficiency Programme FREP

The funding will help farmers to buy capital equipment which will benefit both their business and the environment. The following technologies are eligible:

Renewable power—such as small-scale wind turbines (eg 500w-25Kw) and foundations; and hydro-electric, photovoltaic and grid connections
Renewable heat—such as heat-recovery systems; biomass boilers; solar-heat and ground-source heat pumps
Rainwater harvesting/water-recycling systems—including fixed pumps, UV filtration systems, piping, and storage tanks
Manure management—including solid/liquid separator systems such as rotary screens, roller presses, screw presses/augers and nutrient testing kits
Technical fees associated with the commissioning of the above systems would also be eligible.

Applications for grant investment should be for a minimum of £1,500 and a maximum of £25,000 based on 40% of the overall cost.

Rural Business Support Programme RBSP

Grants of up to £25,000 are available through the programme; the minimum grant amount is £2,000 although this will be looked at on a case by case basis. Funding will cover 70% of eligible technical training costs related to the proposal. Training costs should not exceed 50% of the grant total and must be no more than £3,500 per individual. Plus grant investment at 40% towards eligible capital/revenue costs.

Grants for Business Investment GBI

For large industrial projects in the right post code areas larger support may be available. Grant requests below £250,000 will be appraised within the GBI team, between £250,000 and £2m will be appraised at the Regional Industrial Development Board and requests over £2m will be appraised centrally by BIS in London.

Yelp for Yorkshire

Yelp is another web directory created by social networkers. Yelp claims to be ‘the fun and easy way to find and talk about great (and not so great) local businesses’ but it is not so great when it comes to Yorkshire!
A stockbroker was recommending Yelp as the next great thing but I can’t see it myself. It may have been better calling it Yuck!


I tried using the search facility on Yelp (you know what I was looking for) here is the response:

‘We’ve found multiple locations matching your search ‘Yorkshire’.
Did you mean:

    Yorkshire, VA, USA
    Yorkshire, Ross Township, MI, USA
    Yorkshire, North Port, FL, USA

Americans really have no idea!

On a second search I was offered Yorkshire NJ apparently a place near Sardinia!

I am not the only disenchanted yelper. Users at YorkieTalk.com Forums Community – the community for Yorkshire Terriers have been receiving messages from people who are clearly TROLLS!

Why keep a dog and bark yourself. Make no bones about it the Yelp offering is too Woof.

Image Credits
Yorkie by asmit421 CC BY-NC 2.0
Yorkie by homard.net CC BY 2.0

Go North For Photography In Communities and In business

Incommunities Group Chief Executive, Geraldine Howley and a group of apprentices from the programme as photographed by Chris North.
Incommunities was established in February 2003 by the transfer of 21,000+ homes from Bradford Council. They provide affordable, high quality homes, principally for rent in neighbourhoods across the Bradford District.

Incommunities star awards 2012 are to be held at the Midland hotel Bradford on Tuesday 4th September.

‘Every person has a special talent or ability, and that is why Incommunities are celebrating their many talented and special tenants with this year’s awards. If you or someone you know has made a difference to improving lives in the communities you live in then please use the form below to make your nomination. Get your garden pics and nominations in by Friday 20th July 2012’   more info

As a professional photographer Chris North can’t enter but this competition but is well placed to take pictures of the winners for web sites and future publicity.

Post Office Entrepreneurs at South Milford

South Milford Post Office

It is hard to make a living at most retail ventures and no more so than at rural post offices. I was therefore mightily impressed by entrepreneurs running the South Milford Post Office during a recent visit.

Mill Farm nursery

Reason for Visiting South Milford

I was on a mission to find a small friendly nursery that I had visited a decade or so before. I just remembered that it was up a dirt track and had an adjacent tea room – a double win!
Mill Farm nursery and tea garden is ‘A truly quaint hobby Nursery for real Gardeners’ selling only hardy perennials and shrubs that are cold grown and sold outside throughout the year.
Famous for offering the best value for money plants that grow year after year. There are two basic offers that are 20 perennials of your choice for £15 or 12 shrubs for a similar £15. These are well grown plants in substantial 5″ pots or deep plastic containers. You are given or take a pencil, plant label and cardboard box and left to make your own selection. My 32 plants cost £30 but all are all plants that I hope to appreciate over the coming months and years.

There are no signs to direct you but you turn up by the side of the post office then follow the dirt track until the nursery appears on the left. The big disappointment was that the Tea Room was closed due to a couple of poor summers (and dare I say it lack of publicity)
Never the less there was a helpful redirection to the Post Office, which explained they had taken over the mantle of refreshing the gardeners who visited the nursery, and even displayed the Post Office menu.

South Milford Post Office Tea

Lunch or Afternoon Tea at the Post Office

I think this shop was a cake shop and post office rather than just a post office selling food so large was the choice for those with a sweet tooth.
I ate a whopping tuna salad and received a complementary strawberries and biscuit on the side with my Tea. I have a good appetite but could only manage half a caramel shortcake it was so large. (I couldn’t wrap the remains in a serviette as I had been given a laundered linen one tied with lace (not what you expect from a Post Office).
Near the outside tables was a stall selling vegetable farm produce to visitors and locals as I guess the nearest greengrocers would be many miles away.

On the basis of use them or loose them I encourage you to visit the plant nursery and the Post Office to see South Milfords entrepreneurs in action.

Black Sheep Boots & Beer Walking Festival

Black Sheep of the Family

Lambs in Yorkshire are getting their own special number and web address for Internet gamboling!

Why don’t shy wet sheep shrink? (Say that after a pint of Riggwelter)

How do they make great beer out of Black Sheep?

The Black Sheep Brewery

Continue reading Black Sheep Boots & Beer Walking Festival

Help for Yorkshire Business

How's Business?

Take a trip to Australia to increase your exports and international trade. If that is too expensive in time and money visit Doing Business Down Under 28th March 2012, Electric Works Sheffield Digital Campus Sheffield. This is a joint promotion between Yorkshire Gold Business Club and UK Trade & Investment and it is free.

‘Australia is the world’s 14th largest economy with a per capita GDP which is level with the four richest European countries. Australia’s economic growth averaged 3.4% for the past 10 years and is predicted to grow at around 4% for the next two. Its proximity to the world’s fastest growing region, the Asia Pacific, will greatly assist UK companies looking to expand into this region.
When you add to this Australia’s very similar culture, legal, accounting and regulatory practices, and a lifestyle the envy of the world – you have an outstanding location for British businesses.’
Yorkshire Gold Business Club is managed by Square 5 Business Networks Ltd and is a not for profit organisation.

Business link has lost its teeth and most of the helpful funding for start-ups and SME’s. Many would argue it never had any teeth. Business Link is now the UK government’s online resource for businesses and has no Yorkshire centric focus.

The Yorkshire Mafia have their annual Conference 2012 at The Royal Armouries, Leeds March 21st and 22nd.
Pick the brains of Yorkshire most successful business people where 155 exhibition stands are sold out and over 3200 business people have already registered to attend. It claims to be the Norths preeminent business conference and networking opportunity.

Business School
Business School in Church

How’s Business? by Richard Carter CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 A busy market day in Hebden Bridge
Business School by iwouldstay CC BY-NC-SA 2.0