Have a butchers at the way meat used to be sold

A butcher's shop as they were before the days of glass fronts. Butchers such as the one shown were in profusion at one period in Portsmouth. Today there are just 11 shops remaining

A butcher's shop as they were before the days of glass fronts. Butchers such as the one shown were in profusion at one period in Portsmouth. Today there are just 11 shops remaining

The picturesque cottages that once sat behind the original Coach and Horses pub at Hilsea, Portsmouth.

Quaint old farm cottages were behind Coach and Horses pub

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We hear so many times on the news about the loss of British industry. This usually involves steel, shipping and car manufacture. Then there are the coalfields that have all but disappeared.

But there is another industry, for that is what it was, that has gone the way of the above. The butchery trade.

Did you know that in 1948 there were nearly 150 butchers’ businesses on Portsea Island alone?

That does not include Highbury, Cosham and Drayton. If you add in those areas, there were 176.

By 1976 there were 74 and today I believe there are just 11.

This does not include the sundreymen who sold hooks, string, knives and paper. There were also factories that produced sausage skins and pies.

Then there was the man that supplied sawdust and the bone man who collected all the waste bones and innards, as most chickens and turkeys were gutted and dressed in the shops.

There were also the meat markets and the delivery service they used to supply.

Many must remember Armour & Co, Towers and Swift & Co, tucked just inside Greetham Street from Guildhall Square. There was also Borthwick’s and Sansinena’s, all doing a great trade.

Most of these closed when they were all moved under one roof of the Central Meat Market at Hilsea in around 1970.

All these men have disappeared from a trade that was lost to the supermarkets. As recently as 1976 there were seven butchers in Copnor Road, eight in Albert Road and five in Highland Road.

There were small businesses who might have employed two butchers, plus a boy on Saturday, to companies like Paul Richards who had five shops.

Cooper & Sons was a well-known firm in Portsmouth and by 1976 had been established for 200 years, with several shops.

When Leigh Park was first being built, Mr Cooper got his feet under the table first and opened three shops on the estate.

Dewhurst, the well-known family firm headed by the Vesty family, had six shops in Portsmouth. They have gone the way of all the others. Even this firm, which started its own shipping line, the Blue Star Line, to bring in its own beef and was the first company in England to put glass windows in the front of their shops. Before that all shops were open to the elements.

Even this company with all their millions could not overcome the supermarkets and sold off its shops in 1995.

I understand that several of the managers were given first refusal and purchased the shops they were managing.

Even the great Portsea Island Co-op, which had over a dozen butchery departments, some in larger stores and others freestanding and with a head office in New Road, went the way of Dewhurst.

Hopefully the surviving shops will continue to thrive. The supermarkets with their buying power will always outdo the small man, but for service the private shop will always win.

Try going into a superstore and asking someone to bone and roll a shoulder of lamb. They will look aghast, I know, I’ve tried it.

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