What a load of tripe! It's still on sale in Wigan

Our top columnist Geoffrey Shryhane continues his theme of gastronomic nostalgia in this week's My World...

Thursday, 20th September 2018, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 20th September 2018, 12:52 pm
Denise Webster, Wigans last tripe seller
Denise Webster, Wigans last tripe seller

The reporter from the Daily Telegraph arrived in Wigan – to paint a word picture of our historic town.

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He had an agenda. True, he wanted to see what was left of George Orwell’s town that he had stayed in back in 1936. And he wanted to see the Pier, the park and to talk to the people.

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But these didn’t appear at the top of his list.

At No.1, the reporter wanted to see what was left of the tripe scene, knowing that years ago, Wigan had 100 tripe shops and that the bleached cow stomach lining was the staple diet of those who were far from well off.

Tripe was cheap. Tripe was nourishing. Tripe was health giving.

As we know, George lodged in the tripe shop at 22 Darlington Street and his descriptions of how they stored tripe was enough to put folks off their dinners.

Today it’s difficult to find tripe – but my feet took me to a little stall in the Market Hall where Denise Webster has a host of tripe-buying customers.

“It’s true” said the Ince lady. “Mine’s the last tripe stall in Wigan.

“I took over Sutcliffe’s tripe ten years ago. In addition to tripe, I sell all natural cooked meats as well as Bury black puddings. Make sure you say ‘Bury’.

“Make no mistake, tripe is still popular here. I sell 45 kilos a week – and it’s mostly bought by middle-aged folk.

“It’s very nourishing and contains not one calorie.

“And did you know that Slimming World has it on their list?”

She then admitted, she isn’t fond of tripe but loves black pudding.

Years ago, tripe was produced in the many slaughter houses – large and small – but now Denise gets her supplies from Liverpool.

It costs £3.20 a lb, and at the stall there are two kinds – honeycomb and thick seam, which is better for cooking.

For more of Geoff's memories and musings in My World, buy the Wigan Observer or Leigh Observer, out every Tuesday.