From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 41
August - September 1986
The Return of the Chippy
Nick Sellers at the door of his chip shop.
Photograph by Paul Bexon
In Issue 25 we gave you a brief history of some of the shops and houses on Abbey Street, Old Lenton. We recalled the hardware business, the boot repairer and the chip shop, which had all been situated here. Residents lost an obvious local facility when these shops and the adjoining houses were all demolished in the early sixties. In recent years Abbey Street has witnessed further losses with the closure of the Co-op (its eventual replacement by a wool shop), the wool shop's subsequent departure and the building's demolition along with the terrace of Co-op houses and the barbershop on the other end, which closed following Gordon Harrison's death in 1982. Then there was the loss of Old Lenton's post office in October 1983, which Nottingham's Head Postmaster considered was surplus to requirements. Now the future of the greengrocers at No. 55 appears in the balance. Its present owners have failed to obtain planning permission to convert the shop into a restaurant and at the time of writing the shop is no longer functioning at all. As we commented back in 1983, it continues to look as if Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Indians' is being re-enacted on Abbey Street as the shops disappear one by one.
But in the midst of despair there is always supposed to be hope and one of the hopeful signs is the appearance of a new business that is proving popular with the locals. In the premises vacated by the post office, Abbey Street is now getting another chance to savour the delights of take-away fish and chips, courtesy of the Old Lenton Friary. The chip shop opened for business in December 1984, but only after its proprietor, Nick Sellers, overcame one or two technical hitches. Chief among these was the fact that his initial planning application for the premises' change of use to a chip shop was refused by the City Council. Several residents had objected, fearing that the chip shop would attract late night revellers, and the City Council had sided with these objectors. To overcome these fears Nick submitted a second application which involved reducing his proposed closing time from 11 pm to 9.30 pm. The change found favour with the City Council and the Old Lenton Friary was given the go-ahead. The old post office was gutted and a new shop frontage installed. When the frying equipment was brought in, Nick's second problem occurred. He had initially intended to have the range positioned across the shop, but the space available proved insufficient. There followed a rapid rethink and the present layout was adopted.
Nick Sellers has had some ten years' experience of the fish and chip business, even though he is only twenty-five. This is because his father, Nick Sellers senior, has run 'The Fish and Chicken Bar' on Broxtowe Lane for the last fourteen years. Nick began helping his dad while still at school and continued to do so while taking History and Politics at Beeston College. After 'A' levels Nick decided his career options lay' between more further education or else trying to go into business for himself. He chose the second option and began by working for his father for several years. Having accumulated some working capital and plenty of experience, he began to look around for suitable premises. He plumped for the Abbey Street property because of its position on a main road, its close proximity to four pubs, its good parking facilities, the mix of industry and residential properties, the nurses' home and the nearby University campus.
What the shop looked like in the early 1930s
Monday to Friday during the lunchtime period, which extends from 11.30 am to 2 pm, Nick and his fellow workers are now kept busy serving an increasingly large number of customers, many of whom come from the Lenton Industrial Estate and from the businesses situated in Old Lenton and elsewhere. In the evenings it is mostly local residents and passing trade. Quite often people travelling along Western Boulevard making for home will take a short detour in order to visit the chip shop. Most customers call in for the more traditional fare on offer such as fish, chicken, saveloys, sausages, pies, beef burgers, fritters and of course chips. But Nick also offers doner kebabs and these are becoming a firm favourite with a wide range of people.
Nick Sellers was not the only one somewhat frustrated by the requirement that he must shut each night at 9.30 pm and many of his customers were eager to sign his petition to be allowed to extend his hours. When this submitted to the City Council earlier this year along with a further planning application for later hours, they relented and granted Nick a temporary extension to 11 pm for one year. Then, if all goes well, Nick can apply for this to be made permanent. At the moment the Old Lenton Friary opens from 5pm until 11 pm on days, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays the shop still shuts at 9.30. You won't get served on Saturdays or Sun as Nick shuts up shop for the weekend. All work and no play made Jack a dull boy Nick doesn't want to become like Jack!