NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: Butchers’ shops went to the slaughter... just like the lambs

New Zealand lamb carcasses on display in a competition. Note the �290 prize money.
New Zealand lamb carcasses on display in a competition. Note the �290 prize money.
Have your say

Do you remember the days when butchers’ shops had window displays with meat hanging on frames and dressed to attract customers?

It all seems long, long ago now particularly as so many butchers have closed.

The giant Fraser range training gun.

The giant Fraser range training gun.

One of the staple meats was New Zealand lamb which was in fact called Canterbury lamb. It had nothing to do with Kent of course.

Legs would be hung in a line with shoulders above them. Above them were English town-killed (TK) lamb legs and shoulders.

It seems New Zealand lamb has all but disappeared from the shelves and all we have is British lamb from England, Scotland and Wales.

All very well of course and very tasty, but who would have thought that we would one day be paying £15-plus for a shoulder, and more for a leg of lamb?

It appears that since Britain went into what was then the Common Market a large percentage of NZ lamb is now exported to China.

Many supermarkets have even banned the sale of imported NZ lamb.

My late brother Peter had his own butcher’s shop in Emsworth and used to have, as I remember, 20 frozen NZ lambs delivered every week, plus fresh English lamb.

Multiply that by the hundreds of butchers who once traded and it comes to thousands of imported lambs a week.

In 1971, in Portsmouth alone, there were, believe it or not, 85 butchers’ shops including multiples like Coopers, Dewhursts, Baxters and the Co-op.

There were eight butchers’ shops along Albert Road, Southsea, alone. I suppose today you could count the shops in the entire city on two hands.

Let us hope that when Britain comes out of the EU and the trade deficit business is resolved, we will have NZ lamb back in the shops at a reasonable price.

In the photograph we see lamb carcasses on display.

Note the £269 prize money. It was long before New Zealand went over to the dollar.

• Last month I published a picture of the Royal Marine training turret at Eastney

Andrew August says it was the 12in training turret at the RMA sea-service batteries at Eastney.

It was built in 1912 and mounted two types of 12in guns. The right hand one was a Mark IX used in the Irresistible class of battleship. The left was a version of the Mark IX used in the King Edward VII class.

The turret could traverse and pitch and roll to simulate ships’ movement.

It was powered by a steam engine and the shells were brought up to the gun by a hoist, rammed into the barrel and the breech closed. After firing, the shell was manually pushed along the barrel until it dropped through a hole into the distinctive retrieval chute and fed back to the magazine. The guns were later modified to simulate 15in guns and used for 40 years.

Eddie Wallace tells me he recalls those twin turrets as a boy in the 1930s. They were at the junction of Fort Cumberland Road and Hayling Ferry Road on the Royal Marines Rifle Range. He remembers the large number of cannon balls in the nets under each gun barrel. It was almost alongside the dumping ground of the RM Barracks where Eddie and his pals often found bits and pieces of discarded uniforms, pith helmets and belts on the dump which was part of Eastney Lake. It is now filled in and built on.

• I hate to be picky but I happened to be in the front room last Saturday evening when what is commonly known these days as ‘Strictly’, a dancing competition, came on the television.

Not being a fan of the show I suffered it for a while and wondered if the musical director had ever had any dance training.

Over the years I have played drums in rock bands, Latin American dance bands, An Eagles and Status Quo tribute band and strict tempo dance bands.

In all my time in dance bands when a quickstep or foxtrot was requested we played the rhythm to that dance.

What the band plays on that programme is never the music to go with a dance.

Frank Sinatra’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin is a foxtrot while Come Dance With Me would be a quickstep.

There are hundreds of songs that can be transposed into the bossa nova, rumba and cha-cha-cha, but the band never seems to play the rhythms that the dancers have been asked to dance to.

Perhaps there is a professional dancer reading this who can give an opinion?