If the Tripe Marketing Board had a pound for every time we were asked "Where can I buy tripe?" then we'd be very rich indeed. Sadly, the number of retailers selling tripe has declined a little over the last thirty years - as eminent librarian Derek J Ripley explains in this extract from his book, Forgotten Lancashire and Parts of Cheshire and the Wirral:
Tripe was once the staple diet of the industrial towns of Lancashire, a cheap and nourishing food which played an important part in making the north west the engine room of Britain. In 1920, for example, there were an estimated 2,000 tripe shops and restaurants in Wigan alone and something like half a million in Lancashire. In fact, many family firms did nothing but boil and sell tripe, cowheel and trotters.Now, the Tripe Marketing Board has launched a service designed to put you in touch with tripe retailers across the UK. We're building up our database of tripe retailers and welcome submissions from any tripe seller or eater*. Get in touch, and help us make 2013 the Year of Tripe!
Its popularity can be put down to many things. First and foremost, it was cheap and filling: you could feed a family of 6 for less than a farthing. Last, but not least, it was versatile and could be put to many other uses such as an inexpensive floor covering, upholstering material or for cleaning windows.
At the height of its popularity in the 30s and 40s, the tripe jump was the flagship event of the Lancashire Games and made up a quarter of the Lancashire triathlon, alongside black pudding throwing and synchronised darts.
During the war when fabrics were scarce, women would make clothes from tripe and throughout Lancashire there arose large numbers of tripe dressers (often back-room businesses) who dressed women in the finest garments made of tripe.
Probably the first to dress in this way was Lady Ha Ha, wife of the notorious traitor Lord Ha Ha, who caused a sensation when she wore a magnificent off the shoulder white dress made from the finest Lancashire tripe at the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
* This new service should not be confused with TripeAdvisor.