Britain’s longest-serving butcher fears her business faces the chop due to the demise of the high street and rise in veganism.
Pat Jenkins, who has just turned 80, has been a butcher for over 60 years after joining her father Albert Musselwhite in the family business in 1958.
Although she still runs Mason’s butchers with son Andrew, 55, custom has declined by a third in the last decade.
Their shop in Bournemouth, Dorset, was once one of 11 independent butchers on the three-mile stretch of road but hers is the last one standing.
Pat Jenkins, 80, was offered an office job by her father Albert Musselwhite when she joined the family business 60 years ago – but even at a time when female butchers were such a novelty people would stop and stare through the window, she chose to work on the shop floor
There were once 11 independent butchers on this three mile stretch of Bournemouth high street, now Mason’s is the only one
But she believes the struggling high street cannot recover and her business will also close in the next five or 10 years.
Pat said: ‘The business has changed a lot over the years.
‘Years ago meat was the thing to have, everyone had their meat and two veg. But now a lot of people are very anti-meat and say it’s not good for you.
‘Meat gets a lot of bad publicity. Veganism and vegetarianism is the hot topic with younger people. It seems that each generation coming up is less meat-orientated.
‘Supermarkets and parking problems have made things tougher too. If people can easily park then they will stop and come in but if they can’t park they will keep on going to the supermarket.
Pat with her son Andrew, 55, and grandson Fraser, 24. Britain’s longest-serving butcher fears independent shops like hers are in terminal decline thanks to the rise of veganism and the decline of the high street
Masons retains its traditional reputation as a reliable family butchers. Pat said: ‘People still say ‘if you want something good, you better go to Masons’.’
‘Trade has definitely dropped off in the last decade or two, probably by about a third.
‘The main reason we have been able to keep going is our reputation – people know they will get top quality meat from us. They still say ‘if you want something good, you better go to Mason’s.
‘We have some regular customers that still come in every week but we only see most customers at Christmas for their turkey or if they want something special because they have visitors coming or something like that.
‘But mostly people won’t make a special trip anymore because there’s nothing else on the high street. There used to be butchers and greengrocers and fishmongers, now it’s just estate agents and beauty salons here.
‘I doubt there will be any small shops left in five or ten years’ time, including ours. The high street is dying, it definitely is.
Masons butchers in Bournemouth pictured in a December in th 1980s, when the queue for turkeys stretched down the street
Pat pictured during the Christmas rush in the 1980s, surrounded by turkeys. Now, she sayd, some customers only come in once a year in December
‘My grandchildren come and help out but they don’t want to have anything to do with carrying on the family business. I don’t think I would encourage them to anyway, because butchers and high street shops like this are a thing of the past.
‘Business is a struggle but it’s a way of life to me. We will keep going as long as we can.’
Pat’s father took over the business in 1945 from the previous owner, Mr Mason. Because everyone knew the shop as Mason’s he decided to keep the name.
She joined the family business aged 19 in 1958 at a time when female butchers were unheard of.
Pat, a grandmother, learnt everyone she knows while on the job.
Pat’s father, Albert Musselwhite, pictured outside the shop in the 1950s. He bought the business as a going concern and decided to keep the name Mason’s.
Pat with her father Albert on her wedding day in 1958 – the same year she joined the business
Pat pictured with her son Andrew, cleavers in hand, pictured in the early 1980s
She took over the business in 1973 after her father died and her son Andrew joined her aged 17 in 1981.
At its peak the business employed five members of staff, but Mason’s is now run by just Pat and Andrew, with her three grandchildren helping out when the shop is busy.
Customers joke that Andrew is like Prince Charles, waiting for his mother to stand down so he can take over, but he insists he is quite happy working alongside her.
The butchers supply locally-sourced beef, pork, lamb and chicken, homemade sausages, burgers and pies and a range of exotic meats including bison, wild boar, kangaroo, ostrich and camel.
Pat, a widow, said: ‘When I was 19, my dad said ‘there’s a nice little job in the office for you.’
‘But I got bored of that and worked in the shop. Little did I know what was in store.
‘I learnt everything on the job. At the time there were no female butchers, so I was quite a novelty back then. People would watch and point through the window.
‘It was a good trade to be in back then,’ she said.
Pat said: ‘Business is a struggle but it’s a way of life to me. We will keep going as long as we can’
Real-life ‘Arkwright’ still Open All Hours after 47 years stops selling Yorkshire pudding mix, Bovril and suet in bid to keep shop alive
A real-life ‘Arkwright’ who has owned an Open All Hours store for nearly 50 years say he is being forced to ditch some old-fashioned favourites, to keep his business alive.
Paul Broadbent, 63, is famed for the huge variety of goods stocked at the general store in Liversedge, West Yorkshire, which has been in his family since 1934.
Now after 48 years behind the counter he is getting ready to sell up – and is ditching some classic products to increase trade and make the business more attractive to potential buyers.
Old favourites getting the chop include Yorkshire pudding mix, suet and classic beef-based drink Bovril.
Paul Broadbent, 63, is famed for the huge variety of goods stocked at the general store in Liversedge, West Yorkshire, which has been in his family since 1934
He said: ‘We not going to stock the Yorkshire pudding batter mix anymore as people prefer frozen ones – even in Yorkshire’.
Instead he is favouring fuel coal and burning bins (large metal bins which homeowners can use to burn garden refuse in a small outdoor space) saying he sold four just last week.
Paul started work at family-owned store FW Lucas aged 17. He said: ‘I finished school the Friday teatime and started in the shop on Friday night and I’ve been here ever since.’
The devoted retailer ran the shop alongside his father Herbert until his death 30 years later – and together the pair were affectionately known as Arkwright and Granville.
Paul, who is unmarried and has no children, is open seven days a week and takes just Christmas Day off every year.
F W Lucas was opened by Paul’s parents but he has been putting in 14-hour days, 364 days a year, for the last 34 years
He has recently stopped selling Bovril and Yorkshire pudding mix in favour of newer products like burning bins
His shop is immediately reminiscent of the store manned by Ronnie Barker and David Jason in Open All Hours – he even has a dodgy till.
FW Lucas was opened in 1934 by his grandparents Frank and Winifred Lucas.
Paul lives above the shop and puts in a 14-hour day each day, opening the shop from 9am-9pm.
He has decided it is time to take some time off and is trying to sell FW Lucas but has not had much interest so far.
He said: ‘I started from a young boy – once I’d finished with a bit of Lego or an old bike they’d be in the window up for sale.
‘The last holiday I had was when I was 22 with a friend to Silverstone for motor racing.
‘It quickly became apparent there wasn’t much time for holidays – apart from when I took two weeks off for a back operation when I was 28.
‘Really I’ve been so lucky that I’ve kept well.
‘People ask me why I do it but that’s like asking a priest “why are you a priest?” – it just comes with the job.
‘I’ve had a good life but it’s all been after 9pm and at times it’s been lonely with no wife and kids.
‘I don’t even have a computer or a mobile phone – there’s no need because I’m down here in the shop 14 hours a day.’
In keeping with the shop’s ‘Open All Hours’ feel Paul even has a til with a broken cash drawer
FW Lucas started out as a greengrocer, and still sells the items you’d expect to find in an episode of Open All Hours, from fresh-made meat sandwiches and tinned goods and confectionery. Paul’s old-fashioned shop even has a sweet counter where you can get a half-pound mix.
When the face of retail began to change with the arrival of huge supermarkets, he had to adapt.
Paul said: ‘Once the likes of Sainsbury’s start arriving on the scene you find out who your friends are. I sell a lot of hardware now as the fruit and veg trade is dying.
‘I recently had to go and pick someone up a wheelbarrow from the wholesalers.
‘People start by saying ‘have you got…’ and I finish the sentence with “what colour would you like?”
‘I see it as bit of a challenge.
‘But the strangest thing I’ve managed to sell was 12 chickens from a guy who keeps an allotment up the road.
‘It’s in the blood – constantly selling and moving on.
‘In the shop window I’ve got a display cabinet which bought it for £20 and I just can’t get rid of.
‘I’ve been putting it out the front of the shop every day for two years but I refuse to take it to the tip.’
Paul says he wants to sell the business but he can’t find a buyer.
He added: ‘What people don’t seem to like is the idea of is doing an 80-hour week – people just can’t see the benefits. The hours you put in are not an hourly rate.’
He hasn’t listed a price for the property – which is made up of three old terraced houses knocked through into one unit and has a three-bedroom flat upstairs.
He said: ‘I’ll probably be here for another two years trying to sell it.
‘It was built in the 1880s and it’s sunk a bit so that will have to be reflected in the price. You’d never get a mortgage on it so it’s very much ‘sold as seen’.
If the bachelor ever does escape FW Lucas he plans to retire to a family bungalow in the village and has promised himself and few holidays. He said: ‘I might even involve some ladies.’