Exmouth butcher recalls meat ration period

PUBLISHED: 17:41 19 October 2009 | UPDATED: 12:08 10 June 2010

IMAGINE you want to cook a meat-based dish for five people. You then go down to a butchers shop where the person behind the counter scuppers your culinary plans by only allowing you to have a portion much less than anticipated. In today s society where c

IMAGINE you want to cook a meat-based dish for five people.

You then go down to a butchers shop where the person behind the counter scuppers your culinary plans by only allowing you to have a portion much less than anticipated.

In today's society where customer demands are invariably catered for by businesses, the scenario may seem hard to believe - but not 60 years ago.

Chris Down, who owns Porky Down Butchers shop, in the Magnolia Centre, was handed a newspaper cutting from the 1940s last week, which recalls the time when Exmouth residents had to live on weekly meat rations.

The cutting, dated June 18, 1949, details how his grandfather, who also managed Porky Down, was solely responsible for allocating meat to all butchers in Exmouth, both during and immediately after the war.

Chris said: "A customer found the article when he was tidying out old papers at home. He came into the shop and gave it to me to look at - it was a pleasant surprise.

"It shows how the butchers' trade has changed over the years."

Chris' grandfather was a member of both the Exmouth urban and food councils and the elected representative of the local Butchers' Association to carry out the job of allocating meat supplies.

For more than ten years he would visit Exeter and collect Exmouth's weekly 1s and 2d-worth of meat. In that time, Mr Down never received a complaint from traders.

Chris, who said he wished his father, Stanley Down, who died two years ago, had been able to see the article, added: "Back then there were as many as 17 butchers in Exmouth.

"The shop was originally on Exeter Road and them moved to Chapel Street - or now known as the Magnolia Centre.

"My grandfather would double up by working in the shop and responsible for distributing meat among the other butchers."

Porky Down Butchers shop has always been a family-run business, based in the town since 1900.

The Exmouth Chronicle article, demonstrating how the industry has changed over the years, stated: "Sometimes you hear housewives grumbling that Mrs 'so-and-so's' butcher always looks after her better.

"Then you hear she gets liver and kidneys, whereas others get none. In Exmouth, at any rate, that is simply not true, as you can see for yourself.

"Every butcher gets a share of what's going, whatever it is.


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