Like most established Pie and Mash shops, this one has passed through generations with the same recipe as it was many years ago, more than a century in this case. Our Great Grandfather was the skipper of an eel barge sailing out of a town called Heeg, in a marsh like region of the Netherlands. Eels were in abundance there due to its location on the Heegermeer Lake. Until 1938 eels were exported from there to London and landed at the Dutch Mooring on the Thames. Trade was so important with London that the primary schools in the town taught English to all pupils. His youngest son Huite (known to everyone as Pop), one of 11 children, was brought to London circa 1894 at the age of 9 and left with a family who had a pie shop to learn the trade and work in the business in exchange for his room and keep. He opened his first shop in Hoxton with a cousin just before the outbreak of The Great War and within a few years met and married the daughter of another pie shop owner by the name of Earnest Newton. When his cousin pulled out of the business he relocated, in 1926, with a loan from his father-in-law, to the Bow Road in a parade of shops which were predominantly occupied by Dutch (including the Bird in Hand Public House). The only stipulation made was that the shop was called E. Newtons. There is one solitary photo of the opening week.
The shop at Bow continued trading, with a short break of around 8 months shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, until it was placed under compulsory purchase, in 1976 by the local Council as part of the regeneration process. By that time Pops son, Cyril had been running the show for 20 years with help from his brother Russell.
Incidentally, it was also soon after the outbreak of war that he was approached by the Home Office and told that as he was now classed as a “Friendly Alien” and as a result had to have his name on the shop sign. He worried that “H HAK” would look very German so changed the name to the “Noted Eel & Pie House” and put his name on the bottom right corner in as small a font as he was allowed.
Now established as part of the Leytonstone landscape, the family have been trading here for 44 years to date, still using the identical recipe for both the pies and liquor.
Like most long standing Pie and Mash shops, we use best quality beef, boned and minced by ourselves to avoid the pitfalls of buying ready minced meat. In keeping with tradition, everything is freshly made on the premises including the jellied eels (we are one of the only shops left in the country that keeps live eels), the pastry, and even the vinegar used on the tables. No preservatives or artificial flavourings are used, just the same natural ingredients that were available at the turn of the last Century.
The area demographic has changed dramatically in the last 30 years and now around 70% of business comes from either passing trade or customers making regular pilgrimages from as far away as Norfolk. We even have customers living on the Spanish Costas who often take a couple of dozen with liquor back home after a visit to England, such is their craving that needs addressing.
We like to think the business will still be here in another 100 years but who can foresee that far into the future? The shop is managed by Peter and his son Alfie, who looks set to be taking over within the next few years. That will make him the 5th generation to work the business.
We feel privileged to be part of such an age-old London Tradition, and as such, consider ourselves to be merely custodians of the family business.
Peter and Alfie.