IT had been hoped to save the legendary fish and chip shed from which Harry Ramsden first served his food back in the 1920s but the discovery of asbestos has led to its demolition.
The decrepit, wooden building was used by him to serve the first portion of fish and chips in December 1928 and the intention of the new owners was to protect it as part of the restaurant’s rich history.
The Wetherby Whaler group officially reopened the original flagship at White Cross, Guiseley, near Leeds, earlier this week after spending £500,000 refurbishing it.
Asked yesterday by the Yorkshire Post what had happened to the shed, a spokeswoman for the company said: “It was in a very poor state of repair but once asbestos was found it had to be disposed of and demolished professionally.
“We were surprised to find asbestos and everyone involved was sad to see it go.”
The branch of Harry Ramsden’s was originally run from the shed – complete with a tree growing through it – before moving into its Art-Nouveau-style building in 1931 so it had a certain sentimental heritage for old customers and staff.
The Wetherby Whaler spokeswoman added: “It was removed with a heavy heart – ultimately there was a simple yet plain reason for why it had to be removed.”
Last year Harry Ramsden’s chief executive Joe Teixeira had the unpleasant task of deciding to shut the Guiseley outlet – the company’s first ever branch – after revealing that it was a loss-maker. The brand still has a worldwide resonance with branches in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Singapore as well as somewhat closer outlets in Manchester, Belfast and Glassgow.
The restaurant’s reopening as a Wetherby Whaler on Wednesday was witnessed by a crowd of MPs, councillors, employees and local celebrities including Dickie Bird OBE.
Harry Ramsden’s daughter Shirley Dillon and granddaughter Jayne Dinan were the guests of honour at the event.