A FAMILY of fryers are celebrating 60 years of the Chilvers’ chippy, with the shop even helping spark a love connection for the current boss.

Three generations of the Chilvers family have run the fish and chip shop in High Street, Manningtree, after it was first launched by couple Daphne and Gordon on January 5, 1959.

When Gordon retired in 1988, his son, Barry, took over.

And in 2008 his son, John, followed in his footsteps.

John, who started working in the kitchen peeling potatoes when he was 11, said: “We lost my nan this time last year so she just missed out from seeing the business turn 60.

“60 years is quite a long time, it’s a great achievement.

“From a young age I knew it was what I wanted to do.

“I started out the back doing potatoes when I was 11 and then in the shop from 13.”

John had a career alongside working for the family business playing drums in rock and roll bands from the age of 20, including The House Shakers.

He added: “I was the only son of the family so I gave up what I was doing to take it on.”

But it was the chip shop that also shaped John’s personal life, as well as his working days.

He said: “My wife, who was 13 at the time, came in for a part-time job and my grandad said ‘That’s the girl for you’.

“I wanted to see Top Gun but my mates didn’t want to so my grandad said to ask Karen.”

The pair went on to marry and have three children together.

John, 48, said: “We’ve tried to keep the shop in that 50s/60s style.

“We have new fryers etc but still keep that feel to it.

“When my grandad started it used to be just fish and chips.

“My dad was the one who started doing sausages and pies and my grandad went ballistic.

“But we sell more of that now than the fish.”

John said he has tried adding different items to the menu including chips in gravy and vegetarian pies but says the fads don’t last long.

In 2011, there was also a lot of concern raised about the sustainability of some fish due to a campaign launched by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

John said: “There was a stage when people wanted different fish but people didn’t want to pay for it. There will never be a shortage of cod.”

The business has seen tough times but John said the chippy is a nation favourite and hopes the shop will carry on for years to come, maybe even with another Chilvers generation at the helm.

He added: “When my grandad retired my dad found it quite hard - I was working with him then.

“I was 28 when I took it over and my dad hung around in the background for a couple of years to make sure I didn’t go bankrupt.

“We’ve had ups and downs but we have stayed where we are and have a good trade.

“We are hoping for many more years to come.

“A lot of people moan about the extra houses being built near and around Manningtree but if it wasn’t houses it would be something else and hopefully it will bring new people to the town and more trade then more shops.”