Stratford shellfish business playing the generation game
- Credit: Archant
The centre of Stratford has changed beyond all imagination over the past 80 years, but one business has remained a firm fixture.
Harvey Shellfish in the Stratford Centre, now run by the fifth generation of the Harvey family, has been providing the area with quality fruits of the sea since 1937.
Bill Harvey started off the company in Angel Lane before moving to Broadway, but the company actually arrived at the shopping mall a year before the shops in 1973.
“I’m really proud of the fact our family business is still going strong,” said owner Ronnie Harvey, 83, who fondly remembers working alongside his grandfather Bill as a young boy.
“Stratford’s changed a lot in that time and there are less people eating shellfish than there used to be, but people of all nationalities buy from us and we have customers we’ve been serving for years.”
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Joe, 25, is Bill’s great-great-grandson and is delighted to be carrying on the family business.
Selling everything from welks, mussels and shrimps to eggs, tuna and smoked salmon, the business has adapted to suit the area’s changing tastes over the years.
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Although work can start as early as 3am on some days, with trips down to Billingsgate Market, Leigh-on-Sea or even Whitstable to pick up the fresh produce, Joe said he thoroughly enjoys serving and talking to customers.
“There’s no other place I’d rather be, simple as that,” he said.
“I’ve worked here on and off since I left school, but the day my grandad asked me to run the stall was one of the proudest days of my life, 100 per cent.
“Eventually I want to pass the business down to my future children.”
Joe’s dad Mark, 50, now runs a sweets stall further down the market, but admits working on the shellfish stall has been a rite of passage for generations.
“All of the eight grandchildren have worked on the stall at one time or another,” he said.
“They used to go with their grandad around to the farms to collect the eggs – mainly because they got to have a McDonald’s on the way back.”
A family of West Ham fans, Mark believes the arrival of the Hammers at the Olympic Stadium from next season will only boost their trade.
“That will bring a lot more East End people to us, which will be great for us,” he added.
“We’re part of the East End heritage.”
Although the company were given a zero out of five hygiene rating by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) earlier this year, they have since been re-inspected following refrigeration improvements and now hold a maximum five out of five rating.
We would like to clarify that the stall pictured in the Recorder on September 16th shows the new refrigeration unit that was given a five star rating by FSA.
We apologise for any confusion.