HistoricaLeigh: The Young's Connection

May 29, 2018 by Carole Mulroney

In 1805 a lady called Elizabeth Martha started selling fish caught in the River Thames. She married a local fisherman, Timothy Young and together they formed a business which prospered in the early 1800s and is still with us today.

Although the Young family had been Thames watermen and fisherman since at least 1750 it was in 1805 that the activities of catching and selling fish were combined for the first time. The business prospered because it thrived on the whitebait caught from boats based at Leigh, in fact over the whole of the 19th century the business flourished until in 1890 they moved they headquarters from Greenwich to Royal Mint Street in London.

The whitebait was taken to Billingsgate market and sold to the leading London hotels. In these closing years of the 19th century , the picturesque fleet of bawleys at Leigh belonging to William Joseph Young and his family were an everyday part of the river life.

During the 1920s Young’s were amongst the first to undertake sales of frozen Labrador salmon and imports of Canadian salmon passed the million pound mark. Frozen shrimps were first imported from Canada and Young’s launched potted shrimps sold in blue pottery jars. By 1940 scampi was first sold to the public and in the same decade Young’s started processing fish in Grimsby. By the 1950s potted shrimps were made at 5 factories around the UK and in the 1980s Young’s launched their Chip Shop and Ocean Pie brands. In 1999 the now familiar Bluecrest was formed.

And to think it all started with a bit of Leigh whitebait.

This article is by Carole Mulroney of Leigh Lives - www.leighlives.co.uk
To read all of Carole's previous article of the History of our little town, click here