The Butcher's Shop

By Michael Braysher

Photo:Michael on his bike delivering to the village

Michael on his bike delivering to the village

The butcher’s shop in the High Street, which I took over from Sidney Oliver in 1963 after working for him from 1955, was originally thatched and timber framed. It is believed to have been a butcher's shop since the mid 18th century. Henry Oliver, butcher from 1850 till 1903, put a brick front on the shop and when I took over, the Public Health Department made me cover up all the old beams with their iron hooks and replace the wooden floor with concrete. Three lorryloads of sawdust and fat were removed from under the floorboards and burned for a week in the back yard. In the Oliver family’s time there were cattle and pig pens and a slaughterhouse behind the shop.

Photo:Brayshers van outside his shop

Brayshers van outside his shop

When animals were slaughtered, the blood flowed away under the buildings into a ditch in the paddock behind, where Pearmain’s Close now is. The land behind the shop was half Oliver’s and half Walter Pearmain the baker’s, and the Close is named after him.

Runaway bull wrote off five police cars and an RSPCA van.

Before the Second War Herbert Miller, the Olivers’ slaughterman, used to drive cattle home on the hoof from Cambridge Market to Orwell, and once had an animal run through a china shop at St Andrew’s Street on the way, a real case of a bull in a china shop !  I also heard of Herbert driving two hundred sheep all the way from Cambridge to West Farm,

Photo:Michael Braysher in his shop

Michael Braysher in his shop

with only two dogs to help him. In 1979 I bought a beast in Cambridge that escaped the abattoir lorry, ran down the main railway line towards London and got off at Trumpington Hall. It then returned to the railway, ran to Cambridge Station, jumped a police car at Highsett, went into the bus station, knocked down a cyclist, demolished a wall, and wrote off five police cars and an RSPCA van.  When finally slaughtered the animal was inedible and lost me £500, as well as putting me in court to face claims from the injured cyclist.

Faggots and dripping were prepared in Mr Howard’s bread oven next door and I used to make sausages to Mr Oliver’s secret recipe, using home grown herbs and no preservatives.

Photo:Michael Braysher at work

Michael Braysher at work

 Our mincing machine, one of the oldest in the country, is now in Smithfield Museum. Before the war the butcher’s busiest time was 10.30 pm on a Saturday night, when the poorer families would come to buy the week’s leftovers, and while wartime rationing was in force we used to post small parcels of corned beef though customers’ letter boxes as there was little else to sell.

On Michael's retirement in1995 the butcher's shop closed, ending over two hundred years if the meat trade in Orwell.


This page was added by Pat Grigor on 30/09/2012.
Comments about this page

Best sausages ever made.[ I cant get sausages any where close here in the USA ] I used to live next to the left of the village hall back in the 1960's

By peter clayton
On 03/05/2016

Michael used to provide our meat at The Bungalow Café for the 10 years we lived there from 1960-70. Magical days.

By Susan Joyce
On 05/08/2016

My mum Mary used to deliver for Michael probably from late 60's/early 70's until he retired and closed the shop. 

By Sheila Cayton
On 04/02/2022

It's fascinating to learn about the history of a small butcher's shop in a village and how it has evolved over time. Michael Braysher's account of taking over the shop in 1963 and the changes he had to make to comply with health regulations offers a glimpse into the challenges faced by small business owners. It's interesting to note that the shop had been a butcher's shop for over two centuries, and the details about the cattle and pig pens and the slaughterhouse behind the shop give a sense of the scale of the business in the past. Overall, this is a great example of how small businesses are an essential part of the fabric of a community and how they reflect the changing times.

By Teknik Telekomunikasi
On 22/03/2023

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