Prince Charles kicks up a stink over closure of 'smelly' kipper smokehouse

Walter Purkis and Sons, a family-run fishmongers in Crouch End, faces closure after a single local resident complained about the smell from the shop's smokehouse. But Prince Charles, defender of traditional food production, has stepped in.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Walter Purkis and Sons is a 133-year-old Victorian smokehouse, situated on London's Crouch End Broadway. The fishmonger is one of the oldest of its kind in the UK, survived a Luftwaffe bomb during the Blitz, and has battled competition from a raft of local supermarkets. But the shop, which is still run by the Purkis family, could finally be put out of business by a single complaint from a local resident, who found the smell of smoking kippers offensive.

According to the local council, the complaint put Walter Purkiss & Sons in in breach of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clean Air Act 1993. Last month, the smokehouse was told it would have to close.

Luckily for the Purkises, Prince Charles caught wind of the shop's plight and has decided to intervene. The Prince is a great advocate of traditional and organic farming and food preparation - Walter Purkis and Sons smokes fish using using oak chips and recipes handed down from at least six generations, without the need for additives and colouring - and His Royal Highness is determined to keep the business going.

Last week a female member of the Prince's staff was despatched to see the Purkis family and find out the latest news on the case. It turned out that the smokehouse had won a temporary reprieve after many of its loyal customers and local residents appealed against the ruling, but that the Purkis family had received no assurances that the reversal of the ban would be long-term.

'A woman came into the shop and told my son John that she was representing Prince Charles,' Mrs Purkis told the Daily Mail. 'Apparently, the Prince had read about what happened and had asked her to look into it.'

'John told her there was going to be a meeting with the council and she asked him to send her all the details afterwards.'

This is not the first time that the Prince has stepped into save an ailing business, or prevent history being lost. He bought Dumfries House, an ailing stately home in Ayrshire in 2007, forming a consortium to buy it for £45m in order to preserve the Palladian pile and its rare set of Chippendale furniture 'for the nation'.

But his interventions are not always so successful. Three years ago, he sent one of his infamous 'black spider letters', complaining about the £3bn 'modernist design' proposed by the Qatari royal family, owners of the Chelsea Barracks, effectively putting the kibosh on the plans. In 2011, however, the Prince approved a revised scheme for the development. Architects Michael Squire, Dixon Jones and Kim Wilkie settled on a traditional, classicist concept.


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