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Sunday, 18 November 2012

21 butchers in one small town

I have been off work for a holiday period this last week and for the first five days I have rarely been out of the house due to recovering from a major cold. However on Friday I felt a little better and went on the bus from Nottingham to the Derbyshire town of Belper to do a little research for a writing project and on Saturday I forced myself to go out to a variety of places in and around Nottingham for an equal variety of reasons.

First of all Belper. I travelled on the Barton bus service which offers a £5 ZigZag ticket which allows one to travel all throughout their routes for a day pass of £5 which is quite a saver on individual bus travel prices. So I took the Ruddington Connection bus to Nottingham and then the Red Arrow to Derby and then changed to the Barton Sixes service that took me to Belper via Duffield. The reverse took me back home later in the day.

On dis-embarking near King Street in Belper the town had a slight smell of wood smoke in the air. Looking in the remaining three butchers' windows on King Street I was keen to observe a few interesting things i.e. a link of string round a bunch of oxtail plus in the same window the Friday display showed quite minimal amounts of meat: half a chicken on one tray, a scoop of mince on another a splash of lamb rump on another, several half empty silver trays and a faded pig object on the back shelf with one squinty eye looking up at the ceiling with a slightly pained expression on its face. The pig was dressed in a baggy shirt and blue overalls.

Considering my writing for a proposed book called "Tails from the Block" I visited St Peter's churchyard with the hope of collecting and perhaps bastardising some local names for characters in my book. I wanted real, albeit historically distorted Derbyshire names to play with and found some good names among the fading graves and crunchy leaves. My notes were as follows:

Local names

Sam Kiddy – asleep until the morning. Died 1875.

Ebenezer Colledge.

Samuel Froggatt (like Garrett  - double consonants prevail)

Robert and Ann Twyford 1897

Edwin Winsome.

John Garratt. Killed in 1915

John Cooper Topham.

Bullock and Beresford.

Peter  Alexander Thomas Greaves.

Brian Bacon.

Coming back into town via Long Row (an interesting row of former Mill Workers houses - some demolished to allow the railway access to Belper Town Centre in the late 1800s.) I was particularly taken with the flagstone road with big gaps in some of the semi rectangular stones which would be a bumpy ride regardless of transport style. All around Belper long standing limestone walls were in evidence, some blackened and green with age.

After a swift pint in an oddly characterless and tatty gastro-pub ( blaring TV in the bar and a lone femme terrible staring accusingly and darkly out of the window from her bar stool) on the main Matlock bound road I made my way across the busy road and on to King Street. At an award winning butchers there I brought a very tasty pork pie from Howarth butchers on the lower part of King Street. I digress momentarily as the thought strikes me.  The bar maid in the afore- said characterless pub was actually very pleasant and told me she that worked in another pub in Openwoodgate where they have a much better selection of bitters. Back to the pork pie selling butchers, Jerry Howarth's.

Jerry Howarth is a family run local butchers that for generations have been participating in since 1898. Exclusively a pork butcher, their gold medal award winning produce is entirely locally sourced with local pork home cured and prepared by the staff. Current manager Ray Montgomery also stocks some chicken and game as well as locally made pies and dairy products.

Whilst being served I spoke to a man in a blue striped coat with red striped apron. In his forties,  he sported a bald shaved head, rosy cheeks, bright eyes, a pleasant demeanour and had with a scratch mark on his left eyebrow. He knew of the late David Grimwade and his wife Janice. He described this former co-worker of mine as a 'nice' bloke. Apparently David once commented on the Howarth shop window display claiming“Good job someone knows how to put on a good display, youth.” I neglected to reflect vocally in how I viewed the this man I knew from the past. On reflection, I must say that their smoked bacon looked very nice. It was dry bacon full of colour and the type that wouldn't leave the pan full of water or blotchy white blobs of fat. In conversation with this man I discovered that in the 1970s and 1980s there were at least ten butchers shops in the town itself, three belonging to Edward Ryde and Sons, a former employer of mine in the past.

Later on, looking at an online reference about the history of Belper, I found a directory called White's Directory dating from 1857 there were butchers in and around the town: namely, John Ash ( Queen Street) George Beresford (Bridge Street) Thomas Brown (High Pavement) Thomas Gamble (Belper Lane) Samuel Garrett and Henry Gregory (Market place) Thomas Gregory (Market Road) Jabez and William Hall (Cow Hill) Benjamin Jackson (Long Row) Benjamin Mason (Bridge Street) John Redfearn (King Street) Jacob Smith (Bridge Street) Joseph Spencer (Gutter) Joseph Walker (Bridge Street) William Topley (Bridge Street) Johannes Watson (Market Place) Henry Harrison (Bridge Street) John Malin (Market Place) Alfred Parker (King Street) Samuel Taylor (Short Rows). Astounding!!! Twenty-one butchers!

My imagination was particularly struck with the names Gutter (once a colliery) and Cow Hill.

On Saturday I went over to the Lace Market Theatre to get some lunch at their Pub Grub bar and caught up with a few friends including Peter hillier who astounded m by telling he had some Black Forest Smoked ham on offer! When I enquired of the origin he told me that he had got it from Lidl. I love this ham from my May visit to Karlsruhe in Germany and took myself over the Beeston branch where I was delighted to be able to buy two packs for under £4.

Whilst in Beeston I popped into my work place and caught up on some of the news and laughs since I broke up for my holiday a week ago. It was good to see my work colleagues. En route I paused to see the new photo exhibition at the Djanogly Centre (Nottingham University). The exhibition was based on the black and white movie, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, filmed in and around Nottingham and the former Raleigh works. A walk through the University grounds allowed me to take some nice autumnal photos of my own.



Christopher Frost said...

Hi Phil, glad you had a good time in Belper. Considering you don't have a car, you don't half get about!

I like roaming around cemeteries too, looking at the gravestones and names. Popped up to the Rock Cemetery with some Flickr pals of ours for a walk around.
You know Peter Hillier too then. I did a version of the Nativity play with him in Bramcote last year. He was one of the 3 wise men, while I was the innkeeper.

Hope you got your hair colouring you wanted last Friday

Judith said...

I hope you're fully over your cold!

Jean said...

Great post.
I like Belper. It has an excellent bead shop near the park. It strikes me as an old fashioned town that has escaped the notice of most of the big multiples and managed to sustain a lot of small independant family businesses. Long may it continue as such.

The English sewing cotton mill was very much in production when I was a girl....Belper was then a bit of a frontier town, barred to me by my parents for fear of being attacked by bandits.

Phil Lowe said...

Yes Christopher. I've acted with Peter a few times and he is one of a couple of people I know who refuse to come into Tesco. :0)

Phil Lowe said...

Thank you Judith. It comes and goes.

Phil Lowe said...

Ta Jean, I must explore a bit further afield next time I go. I saw a few signs for residents campaigning against the possible arrival of a well known supermarket chain.