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  • 01429 269 805
  • 26 Thornton Street, Hartlepool, COUNTY DURHAM TS26 9ET
26 Thornton Street, Hartlepool, COUNTY DURHAM TS26 9ET

For over 50 years R King & Sons fishmonger has sat nestled away on Thornton Street, just off York Road in Hartlepool town centre.

The traditional blue and white canopy outside will be a familiar sight to many, and inside, you’ll find the two King brothers themselves, David, 59, and Graeme, 57.

The business was founded by the pairs’ dad, Ronald King, in 1970, and has been the men’s stomping ground since they left school.

“I was 16 years old when I came in, and I haven’t looked back since” said David, who has worked hard to retain its image as a friendly local business that ‘”specialises in daily fresh shellfish, fish and home-made fish cakes”.

The well-established family team has batted off the threat of the supermarkets over the years, and David puts this down to their high quality stock and excellent customer service.

(Image: Ian Cooper / Teesside Live)
“Supermarket fish is convenient, but it’s low quality and usually not very fresh. We know exactly how long our produce has been out of the sea – it’s of an excellent standard, at a fair price, and it undoubtedly tastes better.

“A lot of the smaller fish we provide comes from the North East – including from local boats in Hartlepool. The larger produce comes from Scotland on overnight transport.”

“You get served by myself, Graeme or my wife Alison – and we all know our regulars, and make a fuss of them” he added.

The family has been in the trade for several generations; David’s grandad owned a wholesale business that supplied produce to fish and chip shops all over Hartlepool.

“This was back in the days when every street corner had a pub and a fish and chip shop, and there was no real choice of take-aways” explained David.

(Image: Ian Cooper / Teesside Live)

(Image: Ian Cooper / Teesside Live)
The enterprise inspired David’s dad to begin his own business in the centre of town, and from there it passed to his two sons in a slow, evolving process.

“We steadily began doing more and more of the work as my dad got older, and his bones began to ache” said David.

Over the decades the shop has modernised it’s processes and interior, but some of the biggest changes have arrived over the last year.

Unlike many other businesses, R King and Sons has remained open for the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic, introducing social distancing and masks early on.

David and Graeme also decided to change the shop’s opening times- it’s now open from 5am to around midday and they spend the afternoons doing deliveries.

(Image: Ian Cooper / Teesside Live)

David and Alison King from R King fishmongers in Hartlepool (Image: Ian Cooper / Teesside Live)
“Our customers are over the moon about the new delivery service- it’s helped them out massively, especially the older people. We’ve even had to buy a new van to keep up with the demand.”

“Our delivery is free – but people are always trying to pay us for it, it’s very heart-warming. We’re just satisfied with people’s loyalty and continued custom.”

(Image: Ian Cooper / Teesside Live)
David proudly reported that business has picked up since the pandemic began: “Although it’s an awful situation, Covid has encouraged more people to shop locally. So we’ve been really busy since March 2020.”

While the business is on a high now, David said that sadly it “may end with us” because there is no one available in the family to take over.

“Maybe, just maybe, someone will want to be trained up and buy into it, but who knows” he said.


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