WHEN the public were asked to name the best things to have ever come out of Leeds they put Harry Ramsden's in the top three.

The new research by Santander UK showed local residents placing the famous fish and chip chain at number three - ahead of the first ever film footage, which came in at number four. First place went to Marks and Spencer and second place to steam locomotives.

The chippy and restaurant, which was first launched in Guiseley, built an international reputation for itself and is fondly remembered by local people. The company still has restaurants and takeaways around the country but the Guiseley restaurant closed in 2011 and is now owned by Wetherby Whaler.

It’s hard to imagine today how prominent a role the restaurant played in the life of the town - but these photographs from Aireborough Historical Society show just how important it was.

From its humble beginnings in December 1928 Harry Ramsden’s went on to become the world’s most famous fish and chip shop thanks to the skill and business acumen of its founder, who built a world class reputation for his fish and chips and who was also a dab hand at generating good publicity.

The restaurant attracted thousands of customers and brought the town to a stand-still in 1952 when it sold fish and chips at 1912 prices - pulling off the record-breaking feat of selling 10,000 portions in a single day.

Twin sisters Mavis and Wendy Raistrick walked to the restaurant from Horsforth in a bid to get there early and their efforts meant they were first in the queue. They were pictured with Harry Ramsden and in 2012 their photograph appeared in a book about the famous restaurant.

Speaking after the book was published Mavis, who by then was called Broadbent, said: “It was a lovely day. There were thousands there, and all the old cars lining the road. There was loads of entertainment – with bands and fireworks.”

“We lived in Horsforth, so we walked from there in the morning – we had such a lovely time, and it was midnight when we went home,” she said.

“We just sat outside and waited, and with us being first in the queue they gave us fish and chips for free. Everybody else paid three ha’pennies.”

Over the decades the restaurant attracted its share of famous visitors - perhaps none more so than Margaret Thatcher who stopped off in 1983 to enjoy lunch and to try her hand at serving behind the counter.

Harry Ramsden’s nephew Harry Corbett was another famous and frequent visitor, delighting children with his world famous puppets Sooty and Sweep.

Harry Ramsden was born in Bradford in 1888and his family had a fish and chip frying business. He launched his Guiseley business in 1928, from a wooden hut near the tram stop at White Cross. He bought the premises, which had formerly been the Silver Badge Cafe, for £150.

The Aireborough Historical Society website says: "Harry had chosen his site well, White Cross was the terminus of the tramway from Leeds, walkers, cyclists and motorists would stop on their way to and from the Dales, Otley and Ilkley.

"In addition to the restaurant there was an adjacent take-away outlet with tables and seating outside. He also did good trade with bulk orders from all the local mills, using a motor bike to deliver orders."

In 1931 he opened his first restaurant or 'palace' in the same location at White Cross.

The glamorous venue was modelled on The Ritz in London and featured fitted carpets, oak panelled walls and crystal chandeliers. With seating for 250 customers it was the largest fish and chip shop in the world.

With an event to celebrate the restaurant's 21st anniversary in1952 it broke the Guinness World Record for the most fish and chips served in a day.

Continuing the family tradition Harry's sister and her husband took a fish and chip business on Springfield Road, Guiseley.Their son, Harry Corbett, also built an international reputation for himself after becoming a household name with his puppets Sooty and Sweep.

Harry Ramsden died in 1963, the business changed hands several times, and the the name was franchised to become an international brand.