Hodgson's earns its plaice in Hartlepool history
A family-run business has clocked up 100 years of Hartlepool history.
Staff at Hodgson’s fishmongers in Whitby Street have decorated the shop to mark its centenary.
Alan Hodgson and children Jill and Peter still run the store founded by Alan’s grandfather William Thomas Hodgson in 1916, by which time the family had already been in the trade for more than 50 years.
William’s father Samuel Cornelius Hodgson opened a smoke house in West Hartlepool in 1850, but it was destroyed by a Zeppelin.
“It wasn’t rebuilt, but my grandfather had fish in his blood, so he came to Whitby Street and opened this shop,” said Alan.
Alan’s dad William Mellon Hodgson became the third generation to enter the business in 1947 – after spells in the RAF and playing for Pools.
“He wanted to be an engineer, but was told by his father he was coming into the business,” said Alan.
“He made a success of it and was really well-liked by all of his customers – we still have some long-term customers from my dad’s time.”
Alan went straight into the business from school.
“He started me on £6 a week – I gave £2 to my mother and said ‘What am I supposed to do with £4 a week?’ – I’d never had that much money in my life,” he recalled.
Alan took over full-time in 1974 and has built the business into a major concern.
“We only had five members of staff then, one person on the fish quay and four in the shop,” he said.
“I delivered orders on a motorbike sometimes and we had one little Morris Minor van. Today we have 22 vehicles and a staff of 70.”
Now 63, Alan is still going strong, but is looking forward to stepping back a little.
“We’re all still up at four in the morning to be at work for 20 past, and most days we’re all still there at 20 past four in the afternoon,” he said.
“It has been quite difficult to pull back, but we are talking about getting to the stage where I can take it a little bit easier.”
The business is still expanding -– it started supplying the new Hilton hotel in Sunderland last month– and Alan is proud of its contribution to the town.
“If you think about the number of people there are in the families of all the people who work for you, how many people you support, it’s amazing, he said.
“And it’s all full-time jobs. No zero-hours contracts with us.”