Butcher's 80th anniversary treat

A long-established butcher is celebrating 80 years of trading on Norwich Market with a Christmas treat for customers.Philip Baker followed in his father's footsteps and maintained the family tradition for selling quality meat, sourced from farms in Norfolk and Suffolk.

A long-established butcher is celebrating 80 years of trading on Norwich Market with a Christmas treat for customers.

Philip Baker followed in his father's footsteps and maintained the family tradition for selling quality meat, sourced from farms in Norfolk and Suffolk.

To mark the stall's 80th anniverary, he bought a champion beast at the Norwich Christmas Primestock Show and Sale for his loyal band of customers.

"We're getting more and more people who want to known more about our meat - where it has been produced and where it comes from," said Mr Baker, who looks after the buying side of the meat business.


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His right-hand man, John Walpole, started with his late father, Richard, and has been on the stall for 45 years.

Mr Baker's father was just 17 when he started the business with a market stall in 1926.

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He was the youngest of three sons of a tenant farmer on Lord Walsingham's Merton estate. "He was about 14 or 15 when his father died. He had farmed at Waterloo Farm, Stanford, but the tenancy had to be given up. There was no tenancy succession in those days.

"So, he went to be an apprentice butcher and worked for a Mr Stockings, who had a shop on

St Stephen's.

"He worked there for a couple of years, but when he was 17 he had the opportunity to take a stall on Norwich market," said Mr Baker.

His uncle, Billy (WJ) who was seven years older, joined him a couple of weeks later.

It was a struggle for the two young men, but they became more established and started buying finished cattle at the weekly Norwich Market, then held on the Hill.

Auctioneer Edwin Ireland took a shine to the young man. When he had a chain of butchers' shops to sell, he offered them to Mr Baker's father. "I've got some shops that we would like you to take," he said. "How much?" "£2,000," he was told.

"Sorry, Mr Ireland. We can't afford them." "Never mind, my boy, you have them and you pay me when you can," and he did.

It laid the foundations of a family business, which went on to develop one of the country's most modern abattoirs at Elsing, near Dereham, in the 1960s.

"We went from selling very ordinary meat to selling the very best that we could lay our hands on," said Mr Baker.

In those days, butchers either sold beef or lamb. We didn't have a pig for many years.

"The only bit I really know well is to buy my own cattle on the hoof.

"When you hear about the standard set by these various organisations, I think I put mine a little bit higher than theirs."

"The meat people can eat is the most important aspect," he added.

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