The Norwich market stall with over 80 years of history
- Credit: Archant
Meet PJ Baker, the Norwich market stall that has served generations of shoppers since 1928
For Philip Baker, Norwich market has a lot of history.
Despite the name, Mr Baker is in fact a butcher whose family have owned PJ Baker Butchers for over 80 years.
First set up in 1928 the family business has seen generations of shoppers come to Norwich market for their special recipe pork sausages.
Mr Baker feels it is this long-standing heritage and the quality of his meat that keeps people coming back.
He said: 'Our meat is as good as any you'll find in the British Isles. That's why I'm here.'
'You may go all over the country and find some as good but you won't find better.'
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'I've got some committed customers, generations of them, its lovely.'
Specialising in beef, lamb and pork, the stall also do game and poultry. They are also renowned for their hand-made sausages, the perfect accompaniment for a pot of Colman's mustard.
Mr Baker said: 'The quality comes first even if I have to go 500 miles for it. It wouldn't be the first time I've been to Scotland for it.'
When Mr Baker's father established the business in 1928 the market certainly looked a lot different to how it does today.
Back then there were 140 greengrocers.
Not only were Bakers one of the first stalls on the market they're also one of the first to open every day.
Open from 6am until 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday, Bakers is perfectly placed for anyone nipping out early in the morning to get ingredients for their full English breakfast.
In the week before Christmas the stall will extend its hours and open until at least 7pm so people can stop by and get their festive supplies.
There are some things that Mr Baker feels could help the market thrive and help draw customers from the supermarkets back to shopping local.
Firstly, he feels the market would benefit from being a covered market with opportunities for air-conditioning and fewer pigeons.
But the main problem he faces is parking.
He said: 'We're finding that we're having more difficulties all the time, that's a shame, one of the biggest losses to the market is that people can't park. They're going to the supermarket because it's easier.'
But despite the problems with the parking, Mr Baker has no intention of leaving the market.
'I'm proud of it,' he said. 'This is the little acorn where it all began and I'm the sentimental one of the family.'
'I have a lot of satisfaction from people saying how much they enjoy my meat, it's worth a lot.'
Why the market matters
For Mr Baker the market is so important because of its heritage and the relationships it allows stall-holders to build with their customers.
He said: 'I think it's important because you have a clientele that comes here for our nice meat.'
For a company like PJ Baker that has built up a loyal following across generations, having the stall is particularly important.
Despite a fire at their abattoir in 2000 the market has allowed the family to keep on trading and means their loyal customers always know where to find them.
But for personal reasons the market is important to Mr Baker.
He said: 'It's a bit of a sentimentality to think that my father started it here.'
PJ Baker was established in 1928 when Mr Baker's father, Richard Baker, left his apprentiship as a butcher and set up his own stall on the market.
The business has passed down through the family and is now an essential part of the market's history.
Best buy: a rib of beef, prime for roasting...
Beef is one of the most celebrated products on the Bakers stall.
Their prime rib of beef at £12.50 a kilo is one of Mr Baker's recommended cuts.
The best way to cook it? With very little effort, according to Mr Baker.
His theory is that good meat practically cooks itself.
'It's a real piece of meat, honest beef that is delicious.
'The further away from the chef it's kept the better.'
One thing that he does recommend however is pairing the joint with some Yorkshire puddings, Brussel sprouts and roasted vegetables for the perfect festive roast.
Coming up to Christmas there will also be a rush on for the stall's signature recipe pork sausages.
The sausages are made by Mr Baker by hand, to their own special recipe. Perfect for pigs in blankets.
What the customers think
Tina Rutland, 53
'I've been coming here for seven years, my husband really loves the steak. I have never ever had a bad piece. I live outside of Norwich so I try and come once a week and I recommend it to friends. They're really friendly and it's just the quality that you get.'
Clare, 25, and Rebecca Jeffery, 28,
For these sisters shopping at PJ Baker is a family affair itself.
Rebecca said: 'Mum used to come here.'
Clare said: 'It's much more delicious than supermarket meat.'