Tony Kent remembers:
'The Butcher was Sam Blake whose employees were Oliver Blackburn (below), Arthur Stackyard, Horace Lofty, and also Miss Ives, a very lovely housekeeper who made a wonderful Pork Cheese and hated kids.
Animals for slaughter were bought from local farms. Pigs (weighing 300 lbs / pounds) were transported in the butcher's delivery van which was later 'slopped out' with hot water and washing soda. Behind the shop was the hanging room, and behind that the slaughterhouse. A huge copper stood in the slaughterhouse: this provided water to scold the pigs which loosened the bristles before they were shaved. The floor was scalded after use and the carcasses were taken to the hanging room where they stayed to 3 to 5 days before going into the shop for cutting and selling. This room also acted as a curing room and hams, bacon, brisket, etc. were pickled in saltpetre. Sausages were made here as well. This room had been built to keep cold - and it was!'
Samuel Blake is listed as butcher in both the 1908 and the 1922 Kelly's Directories.
Billy Alborough, who attended Mulbarton School in the 1930s & '40s, also remembers hearing pigs squealing when they were slaughtered behind the butcher's shop - and next-door to the school!
From Miss Jane Burrell:
In 1946 my sister [Phyllis] married Horace Lofty, who was born at Hethersett in 1898, the younger son of William Lofty, listed in the 1901 census as "Butcher Journeyman". Horace served an apprenticeship in Norwich and also became a Butcher Journeyman, and eventually became Manager of the Mulbarton Butcher's shop, owned by Mr. Samuel Blake. The shop was very busy and several men were employed - much later on, a young man Barry Brooks was there for a short time before going on to found a prosperous business and returning to live at 'Woodlands'.
In spite of many villages having a butcher's shop at that time, meat was delivered to surrounding parishes in a van, and it was seldom that Mr. Lofty returned home on a Friday night until 9.30 pm - with frozen fingers. Vans had no heaters then!
The shop was in a substantial wooden building on the common between the terrace of cottages and the [old] school, near the pump that served the cottages. Behind the shop was a cottage and a number of outbuildings - barns, pig sheds, etc. The business was sold to Mr. King (of Wood End, Mulbarton) around 1950-51. Mr. Lofty* had to retire for health reasons and Mr. Greenacre either bought or took over the management. A new shop was built in 1968 when Mr. Bensley took on the business. The shop premises were later divided and groceries and green-grocery shared the space.
[*Mr. Horace Lofty died in October 1969, aged 71 years]
Another resident (then a lad) remembers 'A weekly highlight was the visit of Marks the Tannery lorry to collect hides from the butcher. What a pong!'
'Crowe and son were 'knackersmen' who lived in a railway carriage before the 'S-bend' in Long Lane. They had a 4-wheeled rubber-tyred trolley pulled by a cob which carted the bodies through the village.'
The Blake Family in the Directory Entries
Robert Blake is listed as Butcher in 1839, 1845, 1864, 1868 & 1869
John Blake listed as Butcher in 1845 and 1864
The Misses E.A. & A. Blake are an unusual entry as 'Butchers' in 1883
Samuel Blake listed as Butcher in 1890, 1892, 1896
Mrs Hannah Blake listed as Butcher & Farmer in 1904; and Mrs Mary Blake as Farmer in the same year.
Samuel Blake (jnr?) listed as Butcher in 1908, 1912, 1916 and 1937.
(Researched and contributed by Mrs. Sue Filmer)
In 1828 the Bracon Ash Estate was up for auction, including land and buildings in Mulbarton. 'Lot 6' (above) seems to match mortgage documents for a butcher's shop. These documents mention "one rood and an half of Copyhold land...with a cottage thereupon built..." plus a further 1 rood 12 perches [1 rood = 40 perches = ¼ acre] with a cottage, butcher's shop, garden and orchard belonging to Thomas Trench Berney of Morton Hall. These were sold in 1834 to Elizabeth Berney of Bracon Ash (whose descendants still live in Bracon Ash Hall) for £280.
Enter the Blake family ten years later, in 1844, when Robert Blake bought the cottages, shop and land for £370 and promptly mortgaged it to a Norwich ironmonger for £400! There were mortgage problems all those years ago, it seems, for when Robert Blake died in 1880 the mortgage had not been paid off - and the heirs of the now-deceased ironmonger claimed the land. By then, there was a slaughterhouse on the site, as well as cottages and the shop (and no mention of an orchard...). Robert's son, Samuel Blake "of Bridewell Alley in the City of Norwich, Butcher" came to the rescue, paying £480 to the ironmonger's heirs in 1881.
Samuel Blake seems to have done well for himself, and in 1887 he bought the next-door "...parcel of land 18 ½ yards by 11 ½ yards with a cottage thereon..." from Randall King for £160 (= 4 times the amount King had paid for it only 12 years earlier!). The exact location of this plotis uncertain but is probably the land where Samuel Blake built a row of 4 brick cottages around 1890 which were known as 'Blakes Cottages' and which still stand east of the Common.
On the other side of the Common meat was sold wholesale from the farm:
Dorothy Tungate, who lived beside the Tradesman's Arms from the mid-1930s, remembers buying meat next-door at Malthouse Farm where Mr. Fairman, a cattle farmer, had an abattoir and sold meat wholesale.
New Butcher's in £200,000 Farm-to-Shop Venture
(Extracts from whole-page Advertising Feature in Eastern Daily Press, Thurs. 5th Sept. 1968 contributed by Mrs. Evelyn Smith)
Mr. Peter Bensley, a 31-year-old Hethersett farmer-butcher, recently opened a new shop in Mulbarton, so doubling his number of shops to six within a year. ....11years ago, with only £50 capital to make his first purchase of sows and build his own farrowing house, Mr. Bensley launched his direct farm-to-shop enterprise....
In August 1967, Mr. Bensley bought out King's butchers of Mulbarton and Swardeston.... The shop at Mulbarton was originally a wooden hut....the new shop has been built on the site....
In partnership with Mr. Bensley, 22-year-old Barry Brooks has charge of three of the shops, at King Street, Swardeston, and the Mulbarton premises [where] the new shop still trades under the name of King's.....
[Bensley & Brooks do a great deal of contract work from the Mulbarton premises, leading to a growth of the business.]
An example of the firm's expansion is that where six chickens a week were once sold, they now sell 35,000 fresh chickens a year. Seven vans [including a Ford Transit, serviced by C.J.Frost, according to his ad on same page!] are in constant use around the shops and two vans full of meat travel from Mulbarton to the city twice a day to serve restaurants, canteens and catering establishments.
The farmer-butcher sets a high standard from his own piggery at Hethersett and demands it in the prime beef and lamb he buys from other sources. All the meat is killed....at the Norwich abattoir....
Barry Brooks, who runs the Mulbarton shop and two others, began as a boy at King Street in Norwich, became manager at Swan Lane and now, at 22, is a partner in the firm.
Additional information from a friend of the Brooks family:
One year, Mr. Bensley's business bought the Supreme Champion at the Royal Smithfield Show, which was butchered and sold from the six shops with the exception of one sirloin joint which was delivered to Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace. This was at the time of severe power cuts, and when arrangements were made by telephone for the delivery the Palace was also in darkness! Later, the six shops amalgamated to form a limited company, Bensley Kings Butchers Ltd.
The end of an era....
1970-80s, Norman Bond managed the butchery until illness forced his retirement
and the business finally closed. An estate agent took over the premises for a
few years and then it stood empty for some while - the church used it for a
'Christmas Cracker' charity shop for a couple of Christmases. Then it was
bought by the Surgery, renovated and opened as the Humbleyard Centre for Complementary
Therapies from January 1996 to 2015, and has now reopened as offices.