As early as the first century A.D., the Romans used an area on the north bank of the River Thames, just east of the London Bridge, as a place for loading and unloading water borne cargo. It is probable, therefore, that fish trading has been carried out in this area, later known as Billingsgate, for over 2,000 years. The exact origin of the name Billingsgate is lost in the mists of time. One legend states that Belin, ancient king of the Britains, built a fortified town at this once shallow crossing point in the marsh surrounding the River Thames. It is conceivable that the words Belins Gat have passed down through the centuries virtually unaltered to the present form, Billingsgate.
Billingsgate evolved over time into the most important center for fish distribution in the London area. For hundred of years, fishermen from every port along the coast of England have been sending their catch to Billingsgate in London. In turn, Billingsgate Market has prided itself on supplying its public with what they want, not only quantity and variety, but also superior quality.
In 1881, a baby boy was born in a small village in Sussex, England. Bert Malthouse's early years were like that of most youngsters, school, play, looking forward to making his place in the world. After leaving fourth form, Bert entered into Gentlemens service before being lured away by the call of the railroad. Starting on the London Country Railway as a ticket taker, he advanced to driver with a route which took him daily past the historic Billingsgate Market.
The particular attraction between Billingsgate and the young tram driver was never properly explained, however 1907 saw an ambitious new Canadian purchasing a pony and trap in an attempt to bring the London Billingsgate-type of distribution and service to the sparsely settled Prairies of Canada, and the future city of Calgary.
Though miles from any great ocean and lacking any amount of capital, Bert Malthouse started about the task the only way he knew, through hard work. What the tram driver from England pioneered with a horse and cart has now become a fully integrated operation embracing not only the wholesale and retail distribution of fish and seafood products,but also a manufacturing and processing plant. In the course of expanding, The Billingsgate of Calgary never lost sight of the service aims of the Billingsgate of London: custom, quantity, variety and most of all, quality.
Bert Malthouse's dream continued to flourish under the guidance of second, third and now fourth generation Fish Mongers, making Billingsgate Seafood Market one of the oldest continually owned and operated family businesses in the City of Calgary.
January 1980 heralded a new and exciting chapter in the Billingsgate story as the tiny fish market moved from its original location at 222 - 8th Avenue S.E. to become a neighbor to Fort Calgary Park. Now located at 630 7 Avenue S.E., Billingsgate earned the distinction of being one of the newest and most modern Federally Inspected fish processing plants in Western Canada.
November 1989 brought the official opening of the newly expanded processing and distribution center of Billingsgate Fish Co. Limited, Edmonton.
May 1996 saw a new satellite retail store open in St. Albert.
The fall of 1998 saw Billingsgate expand again. Our Edmonton warehouse facilities were expanded. A new look Seafood Market and Lighthouse Café was added to the Edmonton facility and in January 1999 we moved in St. Albert to our new location at Tudor Glen Market where our Seafood Market and Lighthouse Café are located.
The year 2002 sees the company celebrating their 95th anniversary in the fish and seafood business. The management of the company is eagerly looking forward to celebrating their Centennial in 2007.
Today, Billingsgate Fish Co. Limited with its three Seafood Markets, two Lighthouse Cafes and two processing plants, offers the entire province goods and services only dreamed of by its founder, Bert Malthouse. The Fallwell family, with Frank Fallwell as Chairman and Bryan Fallwell as the fourth generation President of the Company, together with Billingsgates dedicated staff, continue to strive to create a mecca for the Seafood Enthusiast. You are invited to share in the wealth of fish and seafood knowledge by visiting the Seafood Markets or Lighthouse Cafes and talking to our experts.