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Cardiff Character: Nick Adams

Ashton’s longstanding shop manager and fishmonger discusses his time working in a family business

Surrounded by loyal customers, a welcoming face weighs a fresh fish on the scale. After some friendly remarks the satisfied customer waves goodbye, fish in the bag. Nick Adams has provided a friendly and quality service to the reputable business of Ashton’s for most of his life.

The stall is littered with a vivid selection of wet fish, shell fish and even game meats such as crocodile and kangaroo. “I’m not a big meat eater and I haven’t tried any of the funny ones either – but we’ve got alpaca, springbok, wild sheep, all sorts. We’ve also got some squirrels in there!”

Nick, 59 and single, from Penarth, is one of two brothers who have helped the operational ins and outs of Ashton’s since their father, John Adams, took over the company back in 1973. Ashton’s, Nick explains, was founded in 1800, being handled by only three owners over its lifetime.

There’s a strong reputation with the brand as one of the largest fish retail outlets in the UK.

“We provide our services to hundreds of retail businesses, hotels and restaurants in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and surrounding areas, it can get very busy,” Nick explains.

Ashton's has been a family business for over one hundred years

Ashton’s has been a family business for over one hundred years

Fishy business

The floor itself is covered in a fishy liquid, Nick trudges through, and directs orders to the team.

Nick has worked at Ashton’s since 1974, with some time off in-between. His father, John Adams, took over the fishmongers around the same time Nick was leaving school. Nick explains that this made it very convenient when his father asked for him to join him.

“I know a fair bit about the fishmonger profession working here for the last 45 years, I get my hands dirty plenty of times.

“I don’t have a favourite bit in particular, I do like putting the displays together but funnily enough I don’t really enjoy cutting the fish, although a lot of the guys love it.” Danny, one of the fishmongers working at Ashton’s who stands behind Nick, follows with a short laugh.

In Nick’s spare time away from the bustling Cardiff Market he likes to spend some time on the field. “I play a bit of golf; I have a handicap of 17. I’m going to knock down my handicap over the winter, I’m aiming for 15 by next year,” he says ambitiously, with a determined face.

Despite Nick’s interest in all things sports, there’s one he refuses to take interest in. He says, “I watch all sorts of sports, most things, but not Formula 1.

After working in the fish business for as long as Nick has, he claims that the rather potent smell that comes with the job gets tolerable.

That doesn’t stop the strong aroma from flowing out of the bustling Cardiff Market into the equally busy streets.


Check out this short video for a flavour of Ashton’s shop front:



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