Fishmonger’s legacy will live on

Taking over... after being behind the fish counter in Church Street since 1963, Alan Brookes (right) is handing over the family business to another Alan, this time Alan  McLaughlan.

Taking over... after being behind the fish counter in Church Street since 1963, Alan Brookes (right) is handing over the family business to another Alan, this time Alan McLaughlan.

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THE legacy of a town’s fishmonger will live on – thanks to a little help from the Echo.

We featured Seaham stalwart Allan Brooks last month as he announced his retirement from running the Church Street shop after 50 years behind the counter.

Allan, who started work at the shop on leaving school, was hoping to pass on the successful business to a new owner.

But Allan, who will soon turn 65, said he was sad that no one had emerged to take over the business.

But fishing enthusiast Alan McLaughlan saw our story and decided to contact Allan about the possibility of taking over the trade.

He is now the new owner of the shop after the two thrashed out a deal.

Allan began working in W&A Brooks in 1963, the year his dad Bill took over the shop.

Bill had worked in nearby Fletcher’s butcher’s shop, and the shop had been used by another in the trade, but he decided to turn it into a fishmonger’s after spotting a gap in the seaside town’s market.

He died in 2007 aged 85.

Allan spoke of his relief at passing on the shop, saying: “Alan is over the moon with it, and so are we. We just wanted to keep the place a fish shop for as long as we could and, thankfully, that’s what has happened.”

New proprietor Alan, a 56-year-old dad-of-two from Chapelgarth, Sunderland, said: “Getting my own wet fish shop is something that had been in the pipeline for a while, but I was looking for a place that had either been a fish shop or a butcher’s because it had to be somewhere that is properly equipped.

“When I saw the story in the Echo, I decided to go over and see Allan straight away, and we really hit it off.”

He added: “He decided that enough is enough and that he wants to enjoy his retirement, and he’s glad to be able to pass on the shop to me.

“I worked at a wet fish shop south of the Tyne for just over three years, and I’ve also been involved in a commercial venture with eel fishing, so I’m no stranger to fish.”

Alan says he is settling in well among the Seaham business community already.

“All of Allan’s customers have been in saying how happy they are that the shop isn’t shutting,” said Alan.

“The shop folk, from what I can gather, are part of a very tight-knit community, and it’s been absolutely fantastic so far.”