In 1922, Harry P. and Ethel Sowden, natives of Yorkshire, England opened Ye Olde English Fish and Chips Restaurant in downtown Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Directly across the street from its original location, the present building was purchased from the British-American Club in 1932.
In 1932, all potatoes were peeled by hand, fish had to be filleted and de-scaled and shortening was rendering all meat fats on the premises.
It is amazing that the present black and white tile floor in the old building section is still the original floor that was installed in 1932 and looks as good as ever.
After the Second World War, Harry and Ethel Sowden transferred the business to their son-in-law, Harry Robinson and daughter Mae. In 1972 the business was transferred to their son, Gordon Robinson.
At the present time Steven Robinson and Diane Robinson Durand, son and daughter of
Gordon Robinson, are the fourth generation which is taking over the business into the 21st century. In addition, the fifth generation of grandchildren are in the training process.
The expansion of the restaurant in 1975 increased the seating capacity to 150, although take-out orders are still the most popular request.
The batter recipe has been unchanged over the 90 plus years, along with the English style chips which are made on the premises. A recent change has enabled us to prepare all fried foods in a non-hydrogenated and low trans-fat oil.
A Dallas, Texas newspaper article, dated March 28th 1984, stated that the largest known fish and chips restaurant in the world was Harry Ramsden’s in Guiseley, England. The article went on to sat –Quote- “The only place we have found on this side of the Atlantic that approaches the quality and popularity of Ramsden’s is Ye Olde English Fish and Chips Restaurant in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.”