Monday, 19 April 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Hopkin's Catering Equipment

There would have been a nice bit of symmetry if Hopkins had provided the fish fryer for Oakwood Fisheries but they didn't!

Vincent Hopkins established Hopkin's Catering Equipment on 17th September 1957 with the aim to provide a complete service to the catering industry. The business is now in the hands of the second and third generations of his family.

The family were really enthusiastic in their support of the Tapestry. They were contacted via Bryan's Fish Restaurant and provided the cartoons to bring to life the story of the Fish Fryer. Neither did Mrs Hopkins forget us when a neighbouring tailor retired and she rescued his unused cloth for tapestry use.

Jackie Ford machine embroidered the background for the piece and Renee Silverman made the two people in the foreground. Janet Taylor and Kate Russell are also recorded as working on the piece - perhaps the frame?

"Fish and chips being my favourite food I was happy to take up the challenge of the Hopkins piece. The background was being beautifully done by Jackie, I just had to concentrate on the two figures. The setting had an early 1900 look about it, the man in his high button suit and bowler hat, the woman in her hat and dress with leg-of-mutton sleeves. A couple of local people dressed up for an evening out, perhaps returning from an evening in the gallery of the City Varieties, stopping off for a portion of cod and bag of chips on their way home, well satisfied with their lot in life. The fingers presented a challenge and I eventually settled for hands for the man made from fine wire wrapped round with tape, dipped in adhesive and painted. The woman's hand was made in a similar fashion but enclosed in a glove made from a scrap of velvet. Would anyone hold fish and chips wearing a velvet glove you may ask - but that is embroiderer's licence. The newspaper was an actual piece of the Leeds Mercury of the time which Barbara Walker printed onto a piece of silk for me, at reduced scale, and the chips were my husband's inspiration, padded strips of painted felt glued to wires which are passed through and anchored at the back of the embroidery. I hope it looks real enough to viewers and that they might even imagine a waft of malt vinegar as they pass by." Renee Silverman

Post Script March 2012
The road sign above the shop relates to Hopkins address, Kent Road Pudsey.


  1. What a lovely image, literally and figuratively. A night out at the City Varieties, fish supper, and 'happy with their lot'. How many can say that today? What is also striking is the many happy collaborations on making these pieces. This blog is a joy to read every day. Thanks.

  2. and thank you. Glad to know there's someone out there enjoying the experience. I'm having a good time too studying each piece of embroidery and, hopefully, putting the subjects in context.



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