Making history

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Fish Kitchen

The exterior signage created by BD Signs and BDigital for Fish Kitchen 1931 serves as a preview of the rich history awaiting those who step through the doors

Following the success of their first fish and chip takeaway, Fish Kitchen 1854 in Maesycwmmer, Caerphilly, Wales, owners Lee and Sam Humphreys have followed it up with the launch of Fish Kitchen 1931, a 58-seater restaurant and takeaway in nearby Bargoed.

The business is not only one of the oldest fish and chip shops in Wales, but it has a special meaning to Lee as his late father, Gary Humphreys, used to visit it as a child with his mother.

Although the pair bought the business in 2020, the opening was delayed until November 2023 due to a series of setbacks caused by Covid, lockdowns, the soaring cost of building materials, a shortage of builders and not least finding out the building was on the verge of imploding. 

Lee comments: “The original plan was to modernise the place, but the more we were stripping layers away, the more it became evident that nothing had been done to improve the building since 1931. Everything had been built over and the building was in a significant state of disrepair. Walls were falling down, the upstairs floor nearly collapsed, and retaining walls crumbled.”

As the building revealed more of its history, it inspired Lee to tell the story of the community’s deep connection to coal mining when piecing it back together. 

A mezzanine floor, exposed brickwork and steel beams embrace an authentic industrial ambience, while the centrepiece of the building is a unique internal viaduct. Beneath each archway are family booths named after a different colliery with digital screens playing historical footage from that era. 

Lee recognised the importance of starting the storytelling on the outside of the building so approached Barry Dickman at BD Signs and BDigital to create external signage that would evoke the essence of the industrial narrative within.

“Barry got our vision from the start,” comments Lee. “He kept our branding but designed a fantastic self-rusting sign. Each letter was built out of metal, individually rusted and set against halo lighting. It fits in perfectly with the brand and with our ethos of celebrating our local industrial history, which starts outside and runs straight in.”

In addition to traditional signage, BD Signs supplied digital menu screens complete with graphics that give an industrial feel. 

“We went for a window monitor too so we can communicate the provenance of our produce on a daily and weekly basis with our customers as well as carry advertisements for local events,” adds Lee. “I’ve trained myself up in how to use the design package that BD Signs supplies, which allows me to change the menus and be creative in terms of putting up photos, videos and other information. 

“I can’t thank Barry and the team at BD Signs enough. They have played a significant role in helping us bring the history of the local area to life.”

BD Signs and BDigital 0115 979 4330

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