Three supermarkets, but Aylsham’s got three butchers - and one of them has just been taken over by a younger generation

Liz and John Coxford, left, hand over to the new owners of Coxford Butchers, Aylsham, left to right,

Liz and John Coxford, left, hand over to the new owners of Coxford Butchers, Aylsham, left to right, Emma Payne, Kate Sloper, Jason Gibbons and Johnny Payne. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Most market towns struggle to keep one traditional butcher's shop open - but Aylsham boasts three.

Coxford's Butchers, Aylsham.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Coxford's Butchers, Aylsham.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

And now one of the trio, the long-established Coxford's, on Market Place, has been taken over by a confident younger generation of butchers.

Business partners Johnny Payne and Jason Gibbons, who have both worked at Coxford's since leaving Aylsham High School, have relieved John and Liz Coxford of their meat cleavers after 46 years.

'Aylsham's a busy little market town and we have a good reputation,' said Mr Gibbons, 21. 'There are a lot more houses going up here, which means a lot more customers.'

His girlfriend, Kate Sloper, will help Mr Payne's wife Emma with the shop's book-keeping.

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Both new owners have the butchery business in their blood. Mr Gibbons' grandparents ran the former Gibson Brothers butchers in Church Street, Cromer, and Mr Payne's great-grandfather was a butcher while his own father, Alan, worked at Coxford's for 37 years before retiring recently.

'Taking over is exciting and a bit daunting,' said Mr Payne, 41, who began work at Coxford's 29 years ago when he helped there in school holidays and on Saturdays.

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'It was a case of, if I don't have a go at this point in my life, I will always regret it.'

The Coxfords plan to retire after helping their successors get established.

Mr Coxford, 68, began work aged 15 at another butcher's in the town for £3 a week. He took over Philip Partridge's butcher's in Red Lion Street in 1968. That shop has since closed.

At one time the Coxfords had two shops in Aylsham, one in Thorpe and two in North Walsham, where they also had an EEC cutting plant. And they ran Aylsham's livestock market for about 10 years.

Mr Coxford said competition from three supermarkets in Aylsham, as well as rival independent butchers, meant hard work but he thought shoppers appreciated quality meat and expertise.

His wife added: 'I think cookery programmes on TV help too. People are prepared to come in and ask advice.'

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