Tribute to last of band of brothers behind famous South Shields chippy

Leslie Frankie. left, with wife, Brenda, at the wedding of their grandson Christopher and his bride Stef
Leslie Frankie. left, with wife, Brenda, at the wedding of their grandson Christopher and his bride Stef

Tributes have been paid to the man behind one of South Shields’s iconic seafront businesses.

Leslie Frankie – who ran the Frankie’s fish and chip restaurants on North Beach and South Beach with his brothers Joe and Maurice – has died at the age of 93.

Leslie Frankie in his RAF days

Leslie Frankie in his RAF days

The three, who had followed in the footsteps of their father Joseph, also supplied paraffin lamps to market traders during the winter season.

The restaurants, which also sold sweets and ice-cream, were popular haunts for the people of South Shields, until a fire led to the eventual closure of the North Beach venue in the 1970s.

The brothers’ retirement led to the remaining venue – Frankie’s Ritz Café on the South Foreshore – closing its doors in the mid 1980s.

Mr Frankie and his wife Brenda, 92, married in 1948, following his return from the Second World War.

The couple went on to have two children – Lesley, 67 and Susan, 57.

After he retired, Mr Frankie took up model boat building and would spend time sailing them in South Marine Park.

He died on February 7 in his sleep.

He had recently contracted pneumonia.

His daughter Susan, who helped out with the family business as a teenager, said: “My dad was a very quiet man and would do anything for anyone.

“He was an extremely hard worker.

“When my son Christopher was born, he idolised him and couldn’t wait to buy him his first train set.”

She added: “He was a very unassuming man who was the salt of the earth.”

Mr Frankie, who is of Italian descent, was born and grew up in South Shields, living his adult life in Harton.

During the war, he volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force.

He served with the ground crew – servicing and repairing Spitfires and Lancaster bombers.

He spent time in Burma and was part of a group which stayed behind as part of an occupying force following the war.

He returned home in 1947 – and went straight back into the family business.

Mr Frankie’s funeral will be held on Friday at South Shields Crematorium at 1pm.