U.C.P. Memories

I was born in Blackpool in 1924 and remember the UCP restaurant close to the Tower frequented by locals and the trippers from the Lancashire Cotton Towns in the Wakes. On the subject of tripe and other similar products, my mother bought these from a shop on Whitegate Drive which sold not only tripe and black puddings but lamb's trotters and a brawn made from cow's udders (its name forgotten) wich appeared very often at mealtimes. These are never seen today.
• Source: Harry Loukes

During the war, tripe was part of a staple diet because, along with sausages, it was the only meat that was not rationed. In the 1950s, Lancashire had a chain of tripe restaurants called UCP. They specialised in tripe recipes and often had long queues for seats. Gradually, as the cost of other meats like chicken reduced and the numbers of traditional butchers declined, offal was scrubbed off the menu.
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The popularity of tripe in the first half of the 20th Century peaked when UCP opened their flagship store on Market Street, Manchester in 1964. Situated in Pall Mall externally it had the modernist feel of the day. Internally it seems no expense was spared and tripe could be enjoyed in surroundings that were the height of sophistication. The Manchester Evening News reported, "Soft music and pleasant surroundings induce a relaxed atmosphere. Features include... large windows overlooking busy Market Street, the neat cloakroom and the soft browns and oranges of the décor..." "Dominating the cafeteria is a giant panel depicting a country landscape with trees, fields and a river. The panel was designed and executed in Italy and covers most of the wall. It is illuminated in bright and cheerful colours. Immediately beneath it is yet another unusual feature of this ultra modern premises. It is a fountain and miniature waterfall in a natural rock setting with artificial flowers and ferns". "One of the most impressive highlights is the banqueting suite on the top floor. Most of one wall has been faced with Westmorland Green Stone, while on the other side of the large dining room is a wall covered with blue animal hide" (I'm not making this up!) "Just off the main dining room in the Coniston Suite is a reception room with a bar; the dance floor is of maple wood and the lighting is housed in ceiling recesses".
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I worked in the UCP restaurant in Blackpool around 1962 when I was 14 years old. It was quite common in the town for young boys and girls to work during the summer holidays. The UCP restaurant, across the road from the Grand Theatre and the newly built British Home Stores, was a prime location and the UCP was very busy during the summer months. Staffing the ground floor cafe with its busy counter and the two floors of restaurants was always a problem and it was easy to find a job as a "washer up". This UCP also had a basement cafe that was opened at busy periods. I became a dishwasher on the top floor which was the best silver service restaurant. The restaurant on the top floor was always busy with queues down to the ground floor entrance. The manager took a liking to me because I was well spoken and one day he asked me to try my hand at being a waiter. It was a disaster because I was far too young and inexperienced though the more professional waitresses did help me a good deal. I worked for three months and enjoyed every single day. I particularly remember my lunches of apple pie and cream or Eccles cakes straight from the oven which I ate on the roof of the building with its views across the town.
• Source: Sandy Lloyd

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