A POPULAR fish and chip shop is getting ready to celebrate its 50th year as a family business and seaside institution, so we caught up with the owner to find out the key to the business’s success.

Oldham’s Fish and Chip Shop, in West Road, Westcliff, first opened its doors on March 26, 1967 and has enjoyed professional recognition and even the occasional celebrity endorsement.

Now, third generation chippy and current owner Bradley Oldham is looking forward to marking their special day.

The 44-year-old said: “It’s going to be great. We’re going to get the whole family and staff together and share a glass of Prosecco.”

Family has always been at the heart of the business and started with Bradley’s grandfather.

Bradley added: “When my grandad Bill left the Army after the Second World War, he was given a pension which he used to start selling fish in East London.”

After a lot of hard work, they were able to set up shop in Leytonstone.

In 1961, Bill Oldham sold his London shop and bought Supreme Fish Bar in East Street, Prittlewell, where the family helped out.

Bill then bought the Clarks Fish shop in West Road for his son Rodney, Bradley’s father, in 1967 and so began Oldhams.

Bradley said: “My dad was 23 when he opened the shop so he had his own business from an early age.

“I started working there at 12, just doing odd jobs like peeling potatoes and sweeping up. I think I earned about £1.12 an hour. Not much has changed since we first opened. I think that is the biggest secret to our success. It’s reliability. People know what they’re getting. We are open seven days a week and we always strive to get the best ingredients for our customers. They know they are going to get the same quality meal they had years ago, served by the same friendly staff.”

And it’s not just the customers’ approval that has helped create the business’s legacy. Because of its proximity to the Palace Theatre, the shop has had many famous faces through its doors.

Bradley added: “Joan Rivers was probably one of the biggest names. She was absolutely lovely. She had cod and chips with an Old Speckled Hen. She even ordered another portion to take with her, then tweeted about how much she enjoyed it later on.

“Another big name was Sir Cliff Richard. He came and had the upstairs to himself. He ordered salmon with white wine. My mum is a huge fan so I said she should serve him. She got so nervous she had to run off and compose herself.”

In 2015, the business won a Quality Fish and Chip award from the National Federation of Fish Friers.

Bradley said: “That’s definitely one of my proudest moments. It was a vigorous process and we are one of only five in Essex to have done it.”

Despite it being a long way off, Bradley says he is unsure who will take over when he retires.

He added: “My daughter is nine and I don’t know if she wants to run a fish shop. It’s strange because you put so much into the business, you want it to keep going.”

The shop will celebrate its 50th anniversary on March 26 when they will be selling commemorative mugs to raise money for Little Havens Hospice.