Meet the Producer – Hodgson of Hartlepool

There’s certainly something nostalgic about fish and chips. Whether its childhood memories of a Friday night supper from the local chippy, or a memorable holiday by the sea, we all have our favourite version of fish and chips. It’s no coincidence it remains the nation’s favourite dish!

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At Tebay Services, our fish and chips are a firm favourite with our customers, serving up over 40,000 portions in our Kitchens over the last year. We think our fish and chips are the freshest you’ll find on the motorway, thanks to our partnership with Hodgson of Hartlepool, a family run fish supplier who have been landing the freshest North Sea fish daily for over 100 years, meeting the very highest of sustainability standards. The Haddock is filleted by hand and delivered the same day to Tebay Services, then cooked by our skilled Kitchen teams to ensure the freshest and tastiest fish and chips.

The Hodgson family business began in 1850 when Samuel Cornelius Hodgson developed a smoke house in the area of West Hartlepool known locally as “Wagga”.  The business thrived for over half a century until a Zeppelin Bomber destroyed it in the First World War. In 1916 Samuel’s son, William Thomas Hodgson, founded a new fish merchant business and opened premises in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.

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William’s son and namesake William Mellon Hodgson joined the business in 1947 after serving in the RAF in India. In 1969, William Alan Hodgson joined his father William in Whitby Street to learn the fish trade, and took over the reins to manage the business in 1974. Today, the firm is run by Alan’s children, Jill and Peter, with Alan’s support, and  now employs over 50 people and delivers to some of the UK’s leading restaurants, hotels and fish merchants, including Tebay Services and Tebay Services Hotel.

To find out more, we were lucky enough to be invited behind the scenes at their quayside warehouse, and joined them on a trip out on one of their day trawlers.

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We met up with Tony Wilson, Business Development Manager, Tommy, the Skipper of our vessel for the day, the ‘Annie Bainbridge,’ and Andrew the Trawlerman. Donning lifejackets, we boarded and headed out to sea, on the hunt for lobsters and crabs. As Andrew prepped the fresh bait and Tommy headed north along the coast from Hartlepool, we spotted a school of dolphins off in the distance. “They’re quite a common sight along the coastline here” explained Tony. “Sometimes they come up alongside the boat but they’re obviously feeling a little shy today”

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Once we arrived back at the quay, we donned hairnets and coats as owner Alan Hodgson and Tony took us on a tour of the warehouse. A small but highly skilled team were on the benches filleting an array of beautifully fresh whole fish, including salmon, plaice and haddock, pin boning with a speed and accuracy that only a trained professional can master.

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“I really enjoy being on the bench, doing a bit of filleting, handling the fish, deciding whether it’s good enough for our customers, making sure there’s no bones in it.” said Alan. We got chatting about our shared love of fish; “Both my wife Anne and I like Halibut or Cod, Anne would probably go for the halibut, I’d go for a big piece of chunky cod taken from the neck end.”

Tony then took us into their chillers, where he showed us some stunning smoked eel, a spectacular whole John Dory, fresh mussels, crabs, and whole Stone Bass, that currently features on our restaurant menu at Tebay Services Hotel. We sampled some freshly shucked Lindisfarne Oysters too, fresh in from a delivery, which were deliciously salty sweet and meaty, alongside some fresh juicy shoots of samphire and tangy sea spinach.

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We then followed our noses to the smokehouse, which has been in operation for over 60 years. One of the team was prepping some butterflied herring for the next smoking session to turn them into fragrant smoked kippers, destined for our Hotel menu. As we headed back out to the main delivery bay at the end of our tour, a fresh catch of haddock was being filleted and boxed up ready for the next delivery to Tebay Services.

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Our fish and chips are available freshly cooked every day in our Kitchens. Make sure to stop with us on your next journey! #happytravels #fishandchips


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