Tributes flood in for orange chip pioneer Major Spencer after death aged 80

The inventor of Black Country delicacy "orange chips" Major Spencer has left a legacy which will last for generations.

Major Spencer has died aged 80
Major Spencer has died aged 80

The Bilston impresario was fondly remembered as his death, aged 80, was announced by his family who continue to run Major's Chip Shop which he opened in 1975 and ran until his wife Olive died in 2010.

Born the fifth of seventh children in Low Hill, Major attended Bushbury Hill infant, junior and secondary schools before leaving aged 15 and becoming an apprentice at Podmores Electrical, Chapel Ash.

A natural salesman, he learnt how to "sell ice to the Eskimos" by working for Potts Carpets in the market and then for many years delivered drinks to houses and businesses for the Corona Pop Company where he was promoted to area manager.

His sister Jill said: "He worked hard at whatever he did.

"We grew up in a very secure family home with little money but great encouragement. Plenty of lively discussions and lots of laughs. All five boys and dad Charlie, were staunch Wolves fans. The six of them would go to the Molineux every Saturday afternoon to watch the first team or reserve team. Then come home when there would a lively analysis of the match, and eat kippers or pickled herrings."

And it was Major's love of fish which made him open Major's Fish Restaurant, also known as Major's Chip Shop, in Church Street, Bilston. Several sister chip shops have opened since.

And the rest, they say, is history. Major went on to invent the orange chip, never telling the secret recipe to anyone beyond his family and it went on to become internationally synonymous with the Black Country and led to the often claimed moniker the area has "the best chips in the world".

Royston Spencer, Major's son, outside the fish bar in Bilston

The great and the good who would make a pilgrimage to Major's proved how well known the chip shop and its orange chips had become.

Music promoter Chris Hill said: "Ben E King came to The Robin in 2014 and requested fish and chips so off I toddled to Majors to fulfil his needs and I sat eating them with Benny and Jimmy James, there ain't many people in Bilston can say they have done that!"

Son Richard said: "He, and the shop were famous across the region and is recognised as ‘the original’ orange chips. It is an institution that has been going for over 40 years."

The business is now run by Royston Spencer who is now the custodian of the secret recipe and his father's legacy.

Heartbroken customers besieged the company's Facebook page offering their condolences and sharing memories of Major, including Olympic Silver medallist boxer Ben Whittaker.

Royston responded to all his customers well wishes, he said: "Thank you all for your wonderful messages about my Dad and his legacy....its all very overwhelming at the moment...Hopefully I'll be back frying next week to provide you all with fish and chips he would be proud of."

Former employee Helen Dargie said: "This is such sad news. I always remember the first pay packet Major gave me in that brown wages envelope! He always had faith in me and was a kind but formidable force!"

Major, who had four sons and one daughter, always tried to improve Bilston and was a prominent member of the business community and was not afraid to tell whoever had to be told what the town deserved and needed.

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, said: "When I last spoke to him he was still committed to seeing Bilston improve and for the town's prosperity to grow. He will be deeply missed."

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