Pub snack business turns back the clock

Kevin Thornton with Irene Nuttall in the Durham Arms, Longridge
Kevin Thornton with Irene Nuttall in the Durham Arms, Longridge
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IF you are of a certain age it’s likely you can still recall the days when it was common to see often white-coated traders selling tasty seafood snacks in your local pub at the weekend.

For many the perfect complement to a Friday night pint was a tub of fresh cockles or mussels - long before anyone had heard of kebabs.

Now an enterprising duo from Catterall are reviving the seafood snack tradition and have launched a business that takes its inspiration from the past.

Farmer’s daughter Lucy Bracken got the idea when she and partner Ian were out in Chorley and saw a seafood seller in a pub there.

“We thought ‘what a good idea’, it was tradition you just didn’t see very often and people were loving it’’ explains Lucy.

“We looked into it and decided it was something we could do.’’

Lucy set up Thornfields Seafood Snacks with business partner Kevin Thornton, getting fully licensed and inspected to allow them to operate out of the kitchen at Lucy’s parents’ farm in Catterall.

They started off selling in a few Preston pubs, but have now been able to branch out to cover an area from Longridge to Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Penwortham.

Apart from the man in Chorley Lucy believes they may be the only people in north Lancashire offering the traditional seafood snacks in this way, selling cockles, mussels, prawns and prawn cocktails, crab sticks and parched peas.

“It has gone really, really well’’ says Lucy, who has a catering background after working at pubs and hotels including the old Chequered Flag in Garstang and the Marriot hotel at Broughton.

She adds: “The reaction we’ve been getting is brilliant. Sellers have been invited up on to stage, had songs sung to them, people have loved seeing them there. Even the pubs that do food have welcomed us - they see it as a tradition that is being brought back and the customers love it.’’

Now Lucy and Kevin are looking to recruit more sellers to allow them to further expand the business, ideally in to Blackpool and the local pubs around Garstang.

But they say that recuiting sellers hasn’t always been easy, because they are offering just a few hours work on Fridays, Saturdays and occasional Sundays.

“It would be a great job for an active, recently retired person, and we’re seeing whether any students at the university would be interested’’ says Lucy.

“It has been very rewarding, it is great fun and people are always pleased to see us when we turn up at the pub.’’

• Anyone interested in becoming a seller can contact Lucy and Kevin on 01995 606078.