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10 September 2019

Forest Hill's Secret Fishmonger

 By Jeremy Cutler

Many residents, especially newcomers, bemoan the lack of a permanent fishmonger in Forest Hill. However, there is one which people may not know about but has been well-established for over 30 years. The business does not have shop premises, but trades from a van on Thursday mornings, parked on the slip road adjacent to WHSmith near Forest Hill station.

Grant Stanley is the man with the van and has been in the family fish business himself since he was a boy — out on the fishing boats as well as helping with all aspects of the business.

I spoke with Grant recently, and he said he had reluctantly reduced his visits to Forest Hill to fortnightly instead of weekly. He gave me three reasons for this: firstly, Lewisham Council had been unhelpful, telling him that he had no right to park and trade where the family had been doing so since 1977; secondly, Network Rail had also challenged Grant about parking on 'their' road (although I understand that ownership of the roadway may not be fully established); and thirdly, business had dropped off, as loyal customers had died or moved away.

The selection of available fresh fish depends upon what has been caught and landed in Hastings, where Grant is based. This is supplemented with Scottish Salmon, as well as fresh cod and haddock, which are also usually from Scotland. My own experience has been one of excellent choices which are reasonably priced, cleaned and filleted (if required) on the spot, with expert cooking advice if needed.

Not many areas of London are fortunate in having fresh fish supplied directly from the coast, and I would encourage residents to try Grant’s fish. If we don't use him we might lose him. Grant indicated that, if there were more interest, he might bring back his weekly visits. Some appreciation could go a long way in ensuring he doesn't become ‘the one that got away’!

Grant also does home deliveries (call 01424 441745).

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