Origins of the Magpie Cafe

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Further to your interesting article in the Whitby Gazette regarding the Magpie Cafe I think your readers might be interested in the origins of this business.

The original Magpie Café was opened by my grandmother, Susan Finney in the early 1920s and was situated where the middle amusement arcade is today. It consisted of the café and three shops: a tobacconist run by my grandfather, Charley Finney, a fancy goods run by my mother Elsie Finney and the third shop was rented to the Eglon family as a kipper stall.

Elsie later married Robert Eglon and became my parents.

Grandma bought the present Magpie building just before World War 2 and every evening catered for the large number of servicemen and women in the town. In those days of course the menu was very simple – fish and chips – sausage and chips – egg and chips – beans and chips and a roast.

For a while Mary Churchill was in Whitby with the ATS and a window table was reserved for her each evening.

After she retired my grandmother leased the business for some years to Mr and Mrs Bowers, Mr Walker and finally to Mr Barker who is the father of Sheila McKenzie. Mr Barker eventually bought the business in 1957.

The tradition of fish and chips goes back many years and there is an old Whitby guide which refers to ‘Mrs Finney’s fish and chips’.

She would be delighted at the café’s success and long may it continue.

Ann Rayment

Sleights