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Jim Bugby - Fishmonger

James Bugby was born at Raunds in 1875 and came to Rushden in the 1890s. He had began trading in Harborough Road as a herbalist and he made embrocation for horses and cattle, which he sold for 1/3d a bottle (6p).

He started his fresh fish business, and offered it for sale from a stall on the Green. By 1901 he was living at 8 Beaconsfield Terrace with his wife Mary, from Earls Barton, and their baby son James. In 1898 he was trading from Church Street as Bugby & Co. In 1900 the business grew and he had moved into 106 High Street, and another move to 117 High Street by 1903. The shop walls were clad with fresh white tiles.

The first James Bugby

The Rushden Echo, 19th August 1898

Bugby’s Renowned Embrocation

Is absolutely unequalled.

The great and marvellous cure for Rheumatism, Neuralgia from colds, Sore Throats, and
Colds at the Chest, Pains in the Limbs, etc.

It is highly commended by Doctors for Strains,
Bruises, and Stiffness from severe exercise, etc.

Directions on each bottle.

Post free to any address.

Bottles, 1s., 1s. 6d., and 3s.

Numerous unsolicited testimonials


J. BUGBY, 11, Harboro' Park

Rushden Echo, 11th July 1924

Twenty-five years ago – July 1899
Mr J Bugby announced that he would open a shop as a fish merchant at Rushden.

Rushden Echo, 13th July 1900

J Bugby, fish merchant, 106, High-street, Rushden, will visit Stanwick every Wednesday morning with a choice selection of all kinds of fresh fish, the quality which can be thoroughly depended upon.

Rushden Echo, 27th August 1909

SALMON – I am still having it, and the price is very reasonable – J Bugby, fish merchant, 117, High Street, Rushden.

Rushden Echo, 26th August 1910

SALMON—Fresh supplies every morning.
J Bugby, 117, High Street, Rushden.

Rushden Echo, 10th November 1911

I am having my usual supply of rabbits from the same district as before, which gave my customers such great satisfaction. Fresh supplies every morning.
J. Bugby, High-street. Telephone 7Y4.

Rushden Echo, 15th October 1915

Accident — Fred Mayo, in the employ of Mr. J. Bugby, fish merchant, was yesterday morning going his rounds as usual, when, owing to the slippery state of the road, the horse fell down opposite the Hayway. Mayo sustained nasty bruises on the face and hands. The cart and harness were broken, but the horse escaped injury.

1916 invoice

Rushden Echo, 29th December 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Mishap - Mr. J. Bugby, fish merchant, of Rushden, had an unfortunate experience on Sunday morning.  While standing on the marble table in his shop, adjusting his blinds, he accidentally slipped.  Falling heavily, he was badly bruised and shaken, but happily no bones were broken.

Rushden Echo, 22nd June 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Soldier Wounded – Injured by Shrapnel
Private Fred Mayo, --- Queen’s W. S., late in the employ of Mr. Jim Bugby, fishmonger, who joined up about twelve months ago, is now lying in hospital in France, having been wounded by shrapnel. He writes to say he received his injuries in the engagement of June 7th, and has had an operation and is now going on nicely.

Fire in 1918
Rushden Echo, 10th December 1920

LOCALLY SHOTPheasants, Partridges, Hares, Rabbits &c. I have made arrangements to take several Local Shoots of game, &c. These shoots will take place on December 16th, 17th, and 18th, so that the game will be just right for Christmas use. Kindly place your order as early as possible to enable me to get all orders despatched in good time.—J. Bugby, wholesale and retail poultry and game dealer, 117, High-street, Rushden. Telephone 49.

A fine display The business was continued by Philip Bugby and then Jim Bugby II. As well as selling fish, they were licenced as dealers in game, poultry and rabbits, and the shop also sold ice.

Jim II, son of Philip, came into the business and learned the trade thoroughly. He won two shields and a cup at the British Fishmongers Championship in 1969.

The fish was brought to the shop daily, fresh from Grimsby on the east coast.

Postcard: Christmas Display c1901

The shopfront survived until the business closed

Jim Bugby II

The shop in 1974 when home freezers were catered for - the board is advertising:

Deep Freezer Offers
4lbs of Plaice Fillets for £2
4lbs of Whiting Fillets £1.50

High Street

Jim II, with the help of his wife Margaret, continued in the same premises until 1988 when they retired and sold the premises.

Left : The fish shop frontage is the white building - centre of picture

 The Rushden Echo, 4th October 1968, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Jim skins a fish – and becomes a champion

Jim fillets a fish
Jim fillets a fish
It has been a long time since Rushden produced a British champion, but 40-year-old Jim Bugby – fishmonger extraordinary – put that right before a cheering crowd of 400 at the Grimsby fish-docks on Sunday.

Jim beat experts from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales at the craft he knows best of all – fish mongering.

And not only did he become the 1968 British champion, he came third in a special poultry competition.

Jim, who entered his father’s Rushden fishmonger’s business as a lad of 15, has been intending to enter this annual contest of speed and skill, sponsored by the National Federation of Fishmongers and Poulterers, for several years, but never got round to it. This year he made the effort and swept the board at his first attempt.

He won the Cox shield for the best craftsman in all fish sections, the Ashton cup for the winner of the fish craftsmanship contest and the Ross Shield for craftsmanship. In addition he was awarded a silver tankard, a special badge which declares him national champion, and £25 in prize money.

The experts competing – many of them took busloads of supporters with them – had to fillet a plaice, skin a dover sole, split and bone a herring and steak a cod.

Jim, who took two knives, a steel, scrubbing brush and needle and string with him, hardly went confident that he would walk away with the top prizes. However, his wife, Margaret, who accompanied him, never had any doubts. In fact Margaret feels he could have made it a double championship with a win in the poultry if he had not decided to wrap up the birds giblets. The other competitors did not bother.

Jim's display of fresh fish c1973 - photo by Shelia Fewings

One of Jim's fantastic displays of fresh fish c1974

shell fish display a display
Two displays probably from the 1970s

This advert was in Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire Life magazine in 1980, when the shop celebrated its centenary.

House specialities were: Caviar, Oysters, Smoked Salmon, Lobsters, Dressed Crab, and they offered to prepare a Boned Turkey, stuffed with a boned Capon, that having been stuffed with a boned Pheasant that was already stuffed with home-made Pate.

They took daily deliveries of River Tay Salmon direct from Scotland.

The shop was noted for beautiful and colourful arrangements of fish like this one. Jim and Margaret Bugby are looking over this layered arrangement of the day's fish for sale.

Evening Telegraph, 23rd November 1988, by Carolyn Underwood, transcribed by Kay Collins

THE shutters have been brought down on a Rushden family business with a 109 year history.

Jim Bugby, the third generation of his family to run the High Street fresh fish business, has decided to call it a day and enjoy retirement — unlike his father and grandfather before him who both died while they were still working.

Jim and his wife Margaret are now planning to spend more time on their hobbies and interests at home at Manton Spinney, Rushden. He said: "It is a sad time to see the end of an era — but we are both happy looking forward to more time to take things easy in our retirement."

And their shop, believed to be the only one of its kind left in the country, is now on the market. They believe a buyer may turn it into a conventional retail unit.

Jim said: "It is the only shop we know of which has remained for so long in almost the same way as it opened. The only real difference is that it now has electricity instead of gas. All the original slabs remain." Jim and Margaret's son, Michael, is a successful London tailor and fashion designer, and there is no-one else to take over the business in the family.

Jim and Margaret in 1988
Jim and Margaret in 1988 as the shop closes
The business began in 1879 when Jim's grandfather, also a Jim, opened a fishmongers shop in Church Street. He later moved to another shop in High Street before moving again to the present site. He died in 1939 and Jim's father, Philip took over.

In the meantime Jim himself learned the family trade and opened another shop in Wellingborough in 1973, and a further two, in Bedford and Kettering, two years later. But when his father died in 1981 he returned to his home town. During his working life he has won a host of trophies and awards for skills at fishmongery and preparing poultry and was All England champion.

When the Queen visited Bedford he supplied the salmon, and Jim also catered at an event organised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He has also provided seafood for other members of the Royal family and novelist Barbara Cartland.

But his claim to national fame came during the business' centenary year when he decided to sell fish at Victorian prices to celebrate the occasion. Queues were so deep outside his Bedford shop that he was eventually arrested by the police for causing an obstruction.

Margaret now plans to spend more time working tapestries, and Jim plans to enjoy swimming and motorcycling. He still rides a 57 trials AJS machine and a trials Honda. He was once in the Royal Signals Motor cycle display team.

Jim has held the offices of chairman, president and secretary of Rushden Swimming Club over the years and has taught many to swim in his own pool at home. He is an ex-Northamptonshire freestyle champion.

The couple have paid tribute to the skills and dedication of their employee at Rushden Debbie Mitchell, who has worked for the family for the past nine years. Debbie is now hoping to set up her own mobile wet fish business in the district.

Extract from the Memories of Joyce Moore

Then of course there were Bugby's fish shop. Grandfather and the Bugby brothers, they kept it, and Jim's mother died when he were twelve and she were Sophie Dykes from the Rose and Crown. When she died they went and lived over the shop and they used to do their window lovely. They sold every sort of fish, the family specialised in plucking poultry.

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