Food, Days Out and Travel stories from Brighton, London and the Rest of the World


Watts, the fishmonger of St James' Street, Kemptown

The Fishmongers of St James’ Street
93 St. James's Street, Brighton BN2 1TP 
Tel: 01273 681288

One of the benefits of living in a place as interesting and full of interesting people as Brighton is the chance to discover its independent shops that have thrived on local reputation and are supported by their local community. These are the people that give Brighton its unique identity and are worth seeking out if you are visiting or living in Brighton and haven’t yet come across them.

Watts shop front

Firmly of this mould are Mike and Mary Watts, a couple who have owned a fishmongers in Brighton for over fifty years and are still, but not for much longer providing fresh fish to the Kemptonians for their supper.

As I was just about to take a picture of the colourful shop front I thought it only decent to pop in and ask permission. Minutes later I had been introduced to his industrious wife Mary out the back and Mike was rolling out some black and white photos enlarged to poster size that a photography student had taken a few years earlier and brought in the week before. As Mike unrolled a candid portrait of three men, himself, his dad and a friend stared back at us. What made it so poignant is that in the intervening time his father had died. The memory of his father, the name above the shop, brought tears to his eyes and mine, having also lost a beloved father and as I stood there he told me of how St James’ Street had been lined with people out of respect for his father when the horse and carriage drove past.

Later investigation online revealed that Mike's father has also inspired artist Daniel Locke to turn an anecdote relayed by George into a series of drawings, capturing his memory of a haunting moment during the second world war out at sea.

Watts the fishmonger, Kemptown

Mike and Mary Watts

Google also revealed rave reviews over his mackerel pate and a great deal of bonhomie for this very warm hearted man. I took away a trout for my supper and a wish to go back soon and see them again before his family succeed in persuading him to close up shop for the last time.

Mike Watts, fishmonger
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