Search

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

16:52 13 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, 1940sTed 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

Yesterday, 19:00

Our nightly series for the East London Advertiser’s 150th anniversary this year reaches 1936 and the ‘Battle of Cable Street’, the folklore legend when the East End turns out to stop Mosley’s Blackshirts marching through Whitechapel. The fascists are bent on provoking unrest in the largely Jewish district, but the stand by Jews, Irish, Communists and socialists forces the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to order Mosley’s 3,000 marchers to turn backthe moment in time when fascism begins its decline in pre-War Britain...

Yesterday, 16:47

The A13 has severe delays this evening and remains partially closed following an earlier oil spill.

Yesterday, 14:29

Detectives investigating bikes stolen from an underground car-park in London’s East End have released CCTV footage today of two men caught on camera getting into the building and cycling away.

Yesterday, 12:00

A play teaching children how to cope with mental illness in the family is being staged at east London’s Half Moon theatre for audiences as young as three.

Yesterday, 10:09

Extra capacity on four Tube lines running through east London and longer trains on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) are among the improvements to the capital’s transport network outlined in the Mayor of London’s draft business plan.

Thu, 19:01

Our nightly look at the stories the East London Advertiser has covered since 1866, as part of its 150th anniversary this year, arrives at the 1930s when Mahatma Ghandi arrives for the London Conference on his country’s future. He won’t stay in a hotel with the other top delegates, but instead prefers kipping down in the draughty Kingsley Hall to be with the East End’s working class...

Thu, 15:24

A cute little gosling waddling around Canary Wharf has won the hearts of a tough panel of judges, with this charming picture they voted as this year’s overall winner of the east London business district’s second annual photo contest.

Thu, 13:57

Primary schoolchildren are to get free breakfasts before they start lessons each day at 57 more schools around Britain in a campaign launched today in London’s deprived East End.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

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