Search

Tubby Isaac’s jellied eel stall in Aldgate finally closes after 94 years

PUBLISHED: 16:52 13 June 2013 | UPDATED: 00:33 14 June 2013

Paul Simpson running Tubby Isaacs' jellied eel stall [Picture: The Gentle Author]

Paul Simpson running Tubby Isaacs' jellied eel stall [Picture: The Gentle Author]

family

The legendary Tubby Isaac’s jellied eel stall in London’s East End is closing forever tomorrow—after nearly a century.

Ted Simpson, with Solly and Patsy Gritzman, 1940s Ted Simpson, with Solly and Patsy Gritzman, 1940s

It has been serving passers-by at the Aldgate end of Whitechapel High Street since 1919.

Paul Simpson is the last of the line running the stall on the corner of Goulston Street, the fourth generation of the family selling the fresh seafood that was once the staple diet of the East End.

“I’m the last one ever to do this,” he said. “The business isn’t what it was years ago.

“All the East End eel stalls along Brick Lane and the Roman Road have closed—it’s a sign of the times.”

'Tubby' Isaac Brenner, 1920s 'Tubby' Isaac Brenner, 1920s

Some of his regular customers were in their 80s and 90s who originally turned up at the stall with their parents in the 1920s and 30s.

“My father Ted Simpson had the business which he got from his Uncle Solly who took over from Tubby Isaac himself,” Paul revealed on the Spitalfields Life website.

“Isaac set up in 1919 and ran his stall for 20 years until he got a whiff of another war coming.

“He emigrated to America with his sons in 1939 so they wouldn’t have to go in the Army—but they got enlisted when America joined the War!”

Solly ran the business until he died in 1975, when Paul’s dad took up the reins.

Paul has been holding the fort since 1989, but has finally decided to close tomorrow.

He began working at the stall when he was 14, cleaning, washing up, cutting the bread and getting the beer or coffee for his dad.

The secret of good jellied eels is in the cooking, he revealed. The jelly exudes when eels are boiled and sets to create a natural preservative.

Families traditionally eat from a bowl and then put the remainder in a cold pantry, where the jelly would reset to preserve what’s left for the next day.

Tubby Isaac’s has been an impromptu landmark for generations, its reputation even spreading around the world.

It was also famous for winkles, cockles, prawns and mussels—nowadays even trays of oysters which attracted a latter-day professional class from the City close by.

But the cockney culture of jellied eels has vanished. Tubby Isaac’s has seen its day.

Related articles

Latest East London News Stories

20 minutes ago

Fundraising has been started so that east London’s historic Geffrye Museum can take its education sessions out on the road to schools while it is closed during its two-year redevelopment.

The frustration of trying to find a seat on a packed train could be a thing of the past thanks to a new platform board.

12:08

Government minister Alistair Burt has been quizzed by schoolchildren from east London about Britain’s support for refugees in war-torn areas abroad.

The uncle of a father who died after he was attacked in the Isle of Dogs has sent up a crowd fundraiser for his grieving family.

10:01

A Bethnal Green store director is set to take on a run with a difference - it’s 2,000 metres above sea level.

Yesterday, 18:02

Residents in a tower block in Bow were left without an emergency exit for at least three days, a councillor has claimed.

Yesterday, 16:28

The owner of a “death trap” Bethnal Green guest house has been given a six month suspended prison sentence and fined £250,000 for fire safety offences.

Yesterday, 15:05

Volunteers in Tower Hamlets are needed for a nationwide food collection to help people in need this Christmas.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now