Fish and chips became a stock meal among the working classes in England as a consequence of the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea, and the development of railways which connected the ports to major industrial cities during the second half of the 19th century, which meant that fresh fish could be rapidly transported to the heavily populated areas.
Fried fish was probably first introduced into Britain during the Roman period. Battered fish used in fish and chips is not exactly the same as the Spanish-Portuguese dish pescado frito, which is fish dipped into flour, battered fish is first coated in flour then dipped into a batter consisting of flour mixed with liquid, usually water but sometimes beer. Some newer modifications to the recipe may have cornflour added, and instead of beer sometimes soda water is added. In 1860, the first fish and chip shop was opened in London by Joseph Malin. Fish and chips in Brighton, England
Deep-fried chips (slices or pieces of potato) as a dish may have first appeared in England in about the same period: the Oxford English Dictionary notes as its earliest usage of "chips" in this sense the mention in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (published in 1859): "Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil".
The modern fish-and-chip shop ("chippy" or "chipper" in modern English slang) originated in the United Kingdom, although outlets selling fried food occurred commonly throughout Europe. Early fish-and-chip shops had only very basic facilities. Usually these consisted principally of a large cauldron of cooking fat, heated by a coal fire. The fish-and-chip shop later evolved into a fairly standard format, with the food served, in paper wrappings, to queuing customers, over a counter behind which the fryers are located. During World War II fish and chips remained one of the few foods in the United Kingdom not subject to rationing.
British fish and chips were originally served in a wrapping of old newspapers, but this practice largely ceased as a result of a European Union directives, with plain paper, cardboard or plastic being used instead.