Isle of Wight

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Mac Fisheries was a sad loss to the Isle of Wight. The Islands Towns appear to be the only U.K. place that played host to Mac Fisheries restaurants and fish n chip shops, along with their wet fish outlets.

Subject to an appeal I made to the Isle of Wight County Press newspaper, I have decided to dedicate this whole section to the Islanders with fond memories of Mac Fisheries.

The appeal was printed in the 15th May 2009 addition. I received many, many telephone calls, a few letters and numerous emails with referances to the island’s shops. Various employees names have cropped up which will be added to the new employees page in due course. I’m sure many connections will come from these names.

I wish to thank all those that responded to the appeal, I will admit to being dumbfounded by all your fond memories of Macs on the Island. I also feel that a lot more information will arise from this wonderful part of the world. I will look forward to that.


A rare picture of Regent Street, Shanklin, showing the Mac Fisheries wet fish shop on the right with the striped canopy, this was No 19.

Further down the same street at No 61, Macs also operated a fish and chip shop.

Picture fron the IOW County Press Newspaper



New in 1977 is the Macs self service cafeteria, attracting many holiday makers and locals that appreiciate the speedy service and informality it provides.

Customer turnaround was much quicker here than the serviced restaurant upstairs.

Also on the self service ground floor is a busy take-a-way counter, here we see Macs staff hard at work keeping up with the high demand for traditional fish and chips albeit maybe not so traditional when you could request the likes of battered herring and chips, or whatever odd fish you fancied…… Only from a Mac Fisheries establishment!!!!



St Thomas’s Square, Newport, Isle of Wight.

These pigeons which normally inhabit Newports St Thomas’s Square, opposite Macs restaurant, nearly came in for a hard time in 1973. A row had developed when a local resident had complained about the birds and a medical officer of health was called in to see whether they constitued a health hazard. Members of the council thought the pigeons were picturesque – more picturesque, in-fact, than some of the people that ate their food in the Square and they were allowed to stay….the pigeons not the people!!!!

The picture from 1976 below displays this popular establishment as a now 30 year old establishment. Many returning holiday makers to the Island would head straight for the restaurant and often use its varied menu during their whole stay. It provided excellent, low cost meals for two, even three generations of visitors.

The take-a-way bar inside the restaurant where the quick, efficient service was welcomed by many busy holiday makers and locals alike. Customers were served 8 1/2 hours a day, 6 days of the week.

Three upstairs rooms at the restaurant would seat 70 diners. On a busy summer lunchtime session some 170 – 200 would be served. Below is a 1976 picture of the morning staff that also helped out in the take-away bar when required.

What-ever next… a Mayoress working in a fish and chip shop!!!!!

Mayoress of Newport Isle of Wight Sheila Chalmers worked as a valued assistant.

Note: Where else could you buy a tin of food for your beloved pooch at the same time as you bought your fish and chips? I bet he’d prefer a battered sausage!!!

A wonderful and very rare photo of the Mac Fish restaurant from 1936 just after it had opened. This pic came from the personal collection of Mr Charles Curtis who was very closely involved with its creation. He even bought flowers regularly at his own expense to add a touch of colour and distinction to the premises and of course, to attract more customers.

Mr Curtis went on to become Mac Fisheries area manager, a position it seems well deserved what with the fore thought and investment described above.

The gentleman to the right of this photo is restaurant manager Mr G.H.Pierce. It seems that work for him was very much a family affair, along side him is his wife, restaurant manageress and the young lady, his daughter Marion who works as a waitress.

The current regional manager Mr Mr D. Lewton had just awarded Marion her prize for winning Miss Mac Fisheries 1969

18 yr old Marion Pierce with her beauty bag prize for winning Miss Mac.

How the local newspapers announced it.


The following Information and photographs have been supplied by Mrs Sheila Orchard of Ryde.

Macs employed a Mr Thomas Dyke (Sheila’s uncle) as a boy who went on to become a Mac manager.

Pre-war Mac Fisheries at 154 High Street, Ryde.

Thomas is in the white coat, the boy is not known.

Thomas Dyke went on to own his own wet fish and poultry shop, this was also located in Ryde at Swancombe Road (opposite Ryde Hospital)


Below is a photo of Thomas’s own shop, date c1950s.

Sheila’s brother-in-Law Harold Orchard poses in the doorway.

Thank you Sheila for all the above info.


Thank you Diana for the info and Photos


Thanks for this letter Jean. I have this vision of you and your sister pushing that dolls pram up the High street……Great.


A great email from Matthew ?? 24th May 2009

Hi Colin, and thanks for a great site – certainly brought back many memories!

I’ve attached a picture of the Freshwater branch on the Isle of Wight. I don’t know the date of the picture, but I would think that it was taken in the 1950s.

My grandfather would often sell crabs and lobsters to them. When I was a kid, I used to go lobstering with him, off Totland beach, Alum Bay and the Needles. I had my own pot, and I too used to sell my catch to Mac Fisheries (not that it amounted to a fortune!!) I also remember thrie delivery van in the 60s and 70s, which was a blue Morris Minor van.

The shop had a bit of tragedy connected to it in the early 1970s. A local man by the name of David (‘Dave’) Scarf worked in the shop for years; his hobby was ferreting, which he often did up on Tennyson Down. Sadly, Dave disappeared one day whilst out with his ferrets. It came over very foggy, and when the police arrived on the scene after Dave’s mother had reported him missing, all they found were his empty cages, and signs of somebody desperately trying to avoid going over the cliff edge. It appears that Dave lost his direction, and fell over the cliff at a point about 150ft. above sea level. His body was never found, the only thing was that about two weeks later a donkey jacket, which matched Dave’s, was washed up on an adjacent beach.

Dave wasn’t married. He lived at home with his mother who, I would imagine, has passed away herself. I used to repair TVs in Freshwater during the 70s and 80s. I went to see Mrs. Scarf one day several years after Dave had disappeared, and she was complaining about how difficult it was to look after the house on her own. When I asked her why she didn’t sell and move to a small bungalow, she replied that she had to stay where she was for when David came back as he would want his room. I don’t think she ever accepted that Dave had died that day on the downs.

It was shortly after that event, I seem to remember, that Mac Fisheries closed. It was greatly missed by the people of Totland and Freshwater, not only because of the quality of its produce, but because local people worked in the shop – indeed, one very rarely saw Dave without a smile on his face and he always made time to talk to shoppers – a practice that’s largely disappeared nowadays with the advent of supermarkets.

On a more general note about Freshwater, like a lot of villages at the time, the majority of its shops were second (and even third generation) owned. My dad ran a ladies hairdressers shop which was started by his father, and my apprenticeship was done in a shop a few yards away that was started by my boss’s grandfather. However, for my generation (who left school in the late 60s and early 70s), there was a much bigger choice of what to do in the jobs market and most of us went into other things. Most of us were not forced to follow our fathers professions as most of them seemed to realise that the winds of change were coming to village shops. I remember my dad saying to me that all the local shops would probably disappear as the big supermarkets started to appear on the Island. Sadly he was right as there are now only two shops left in Freshwater that are run by people I went to school with.

Once again, Colin, thanks for the site and the memories it has brought back. If I find anything else, I’ll send it on to you, and good luck to the future of your site.

Kind regards


Mac Fisheries at Avenue Road, Freshwater, IOW.


Two photographs supplied by an Islander Mr Murray.

Both pics are of the Shanklin shop, Mr Murray thinks they are from the 1930s & the 1950s, but we are not sure due to the turkey prices. Maybe WW11 had a bearing on these prices.

Note the Father Christmas uniform in the earlier picture. This must have been Xmas week.

Here’s another photo sent to me by Mr Murray

It shows an IOW fisherman by the name of Mr Harry Scovell. It is said that Harry sold his daily catch to the Mac Fisheries manager Mr Jack Palmer at the Sandown shop. He would take much of the shops fish off-cuts ready for baiting his lobster pots on his next fishing trip. The dog pictured with his is his trusted friend ‘Sailor’


A rear cover of an IOW carnival brochure advertising their Island shops.


This great letter and photograph was sent to me from Mr Terence Westmore depicting 2 St Thomas Square, Newport. This premises was originally a wet fish shop as early as the 1920s. The accommadation above this shop went on to become Mac Fisheries offices for the Island.

Thank you Terence.


The following photo and letter was sent to me by a lady asking to be kept anonymous

A brilliant contrast to to photo above showing a 45 year gap.

Thank you Mam