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The Butchers' Shop at 39 Chilwell Road - by David Hallam

Owen Sutton The shop premises at 39 Chilwell Road Beeston - on the west corner of Hall Croft - are now occupied as an antique shop but with a long history of occupation as a butchers shop. During much of that time, the living accomodation above the shop - designated as 39a - was occupied by the butcher and his family.

It is likely that the building was erected during in the last years of the 19th century and that Owen Sutton was its first occupant, probably as a tenant. Certainly, by the time of the census in March 1901, he was living there with his wife, a family of two and a live in assistant and his butchery busness appears to be well established. The picture on the right shows Owen with his wife Joyce, daughters Elsie and Fanny and his assistant, standing outside the Chilwell Road shop. From the ages of the children, we can guess that this is from about 1903.

Owen Sutton was born in Derbyshire1 in about 1872, the fourth child (of at least 9) and third son of John - a colliery labourer who had moved from farm work when opportunities arose in mining - and Anne Sutton. The couple came to the Lenton/Radford area of Nottingham around 1878, following John's work as a coal miner. However, by 1883, John had changed direction in his career and had established himself as a butcher, trading at 296 Ilkeston Road.2 By 1885 he had moved to 324 Ilkeston Road and by 1891 his address was 340-342 Ilkeston Road, Old Radford. By then, Owen was fully involved in his father's business and married Joyce Sparham Johnson in 1894 and two daughters were born over the next six years. It was in about 1900 that he made the decision - for whatever reason3 - to move to Beeston and set up on his own.

Sutton c1925 Owen Sutton continued to trade on Chilwell Road until at least 19054 but, by 1913, he took over a butcher's shop, previously occupied by William Cropper, at 51 Wollaton Road, Beeston - just south of Broughton Street where Willoughby Garages stood until very recently. Sutton advert He still occupied this address in 1920. By about 1932 his shop address had become 87 Wollaton Road - probably as a result of renumbering - and, by 1940, his widow was operating the business. The family home on Cator Lane Chilwell was built on land acquired by Owen Sutton at the auction of the Charlton Estate after World War 1. Their son John, who was born in 1914 became very well known in the Beeston area as a teacher and local Councillor. It is curious that, in this advertisement from the early 1930s, shown right, the firm is styled "Sutton & Son" which appears to suggest that there was an intention that John would become involved. The photograph on the left shows John Sutton as a schoolboy, standing with his father outside the Wollaton Road shop in about 1925. (Click the image to enlarge)

30 Chilwell Road was evidently an excellent trading position for a butcher as, after Owen Sutton's occupancy, only three butchers traded there over the next 70 or more years:

By 1913 and for over 30 years, by William Wright5
In 1945 the property was conveyed to Herbert Ford who traded there for about 20 years.
In 1964 Alfred Richard Elliott transferred his business there from 47 High Road. In 1972, he purchased the freehold from the Ford family.6
Geoffrey Drinkwater has given us the following memories of Russell Old who was the grandson of Owen Sutton and remembers the Wollaton Road shop:
"It was probably sometime in the mid 1980s that I was well acquainted with Russell Old. He was the son of Jack and Fanny (née Sutton) Old, whose butcher’s shop had been on the southern corner of the junction of Broughton Street with Wollaton Road, Beeston (where Willoughby’s Garage now is). The business ran under the name of Sutton’s, having previously belonged to Jack’s father-in-law. Russell had been his father’s delivery boy, using a purpose-designed bicycle with a large carrier at the front. By his own account, this job had taken him to every nook and cranny in the local area and he was full of anecdotes, often mentioning the names of other Beeston butchers. On one occasion, it compellingly came to me that I should write down these names for posterity - which I did at Russell’s dictation

"Earlier this year (2007), my wife and I visited Brailsford Parish Church in Derbyshire on the occasion of the committal of Russell’s ashes. It was during the following lunchtime conversation with his sisters that I first became aware that he was a distant relative. As an indirect consequence of this, when recently going through my local history papers in connection with news items about a proposed tram route to Beeston in 1902, I came across Russell’s list of 21 butchers’shops, all within about a square mile, some of the locations of which I have expanded from my own memory:"

WardWollaton Road, north of junction with Cyprus Avenue
Harry PeggWollaton Rd., north corner of junction with Abbey Road
SuttonBroughton St., south corner of junction with Wollaton Road
RobertsWollaton Road next to Westminster Bank
Billy GeorgeBeeston Square
Archie Willden*Chapel Street, west corner of junction with Middle St.
Sam MarloweHigh Road, next door to Hallams
Alf ElliottHigh Road, west corner of junction with Villa Street
BaileyHigh Road, west corner of junction with Stoney Street
George LongleyHigh Road, east corner of junction with Willoughby St
DeweyHigh road, towards City Road
CliffordHigh Road, near east corner of junction with Union Street
Jack PopplewellHigh Road, W corner of junction with Union Street (now Hoggs)
FordHigh Road, next door but one to east corner of Station Rd
Herbert FordChilwell Road, west corner of Hall Croft
WhartonChilwell Rd., about four shops east of junction with Imperial Rd
Norman WinfieldStation Rd, east side, 100 yd north of junction with Queens Rd
Eric WinfieldMeadow Rd, next but one to S corner of junction with Trafalgar Rd
Herbert FoisterQueens Rd, west corner of junction with Mona Street
Ernest KelhamHigh Rd, Chilwell in 1930s block next to The Twitchell
Jack WatsonHigh Rd, Chilwell in 1930s block next to The Twitchell

* Archie Willden moved to the shop in Beeston Square when Billy George finished. Archie’s tiny little shop at the end of Chapel Street was then taken by Roy Shepherd, who installed a stick-chopping machine and sold bundles of sticks for fire kindling.

Beeston Butchers - 1905 - 1952

The record of Beeston butchers recorded by Geoffrey Drinkwater, based on the personal memories of Russell Old, is extremely interesting as it includes the kind of detail - everyday names, precise locations, transient businesses and tiny, colourful details - which are not revealed by the usually available documentary sources - contemporary commercial directories, Nevertheless, by using these sources it is possible to extend the exercise to a wider period. As one would expect, there is a good match with the directories from the 1930/1940 era - the period covered by Russell's memory - and, in addition we can get a feel for the remarkably large number of butchers who provided for the dining tables of Beeston folk over the period of the nearly 50 years that we have surveyed. In this table pork butchers are highlighted in green:

Thomas ABELL & Son28 High Rd     
   98 High Rd98 High Rd 
147 Queens Rd126 Queens Rd    
John Thomas BAILEY (F BAILEY by 1952)23 High Rd65 High Rd65 High Rd65 High Rd65 High Rd65 High Rd
Len BEVANS and/or Len BARNES    10 Station Rd 
BRITISH & ARGENTINE Meat Co Ltd  26 High Rd   
Walter BUXTON80 High Rd     
Thomas Brandley CLARKDovecote Lane     
64 High Rd     
    64 High Rd 
James Frederick CLIFFORDQueens Rd     
Co-operative StoresHigh RdHigh Rd    
William CROPPER51 Wollaton Rd     
Gilbert Joseph DEWEY (Mrs Clara DEWEY by 1913)54 High Rd88 High Rd88 High Rd88 High Rd88 High Rd88 High Rd
J H DEWHURST Ltd   26 High Rd26 High Rd26 High Rd
John DRAPER 21 High Rd    
EASTMANS Ltd27 High Rd69 High Rd69 High Rd   
Alfred ELLIOTT 127 Queens Rd47 High Rd47 High Rd47 High Rd47 High Rd
Mrs Mary Ann ELLIOTT
High Rd     
H FOISTER    126 Queens Rd 
Ernest FORD
    129 Queens Rd 
Harry FORD (& son) (Ernest Wilson FORD by 1932)
 18 High Rd18 High Rd18 High Rd18 High Rd18 High Rd
William Herbert GEORGEPO Square & 127 Queens RdPO SquarePO Square7 High Rd7 High Rd 
Joseph Ernest GREENWAY 98 High Rd98 High Rd   
George HANDS
40 High Rd74 High Rd74 High Rd   
Frank Henry JOHNSON
 188 Queens Rd188 Queens Rd188 Queens Rd  
Joseph Walton KELHAM8 Middle St WDovecote LaneDovecote LaneDovecote LaneDovecote Lane 
C KINGSTON Ltd   69 High Rd69 High Rd69 High Rd
George W LONGLEY    72 High Rd72 High Rd
S A MARLOW   21 High Rd21 High Rd21 High Rd
A MUSSON & Sons     191 Queens Rd
James NELSON & Sons Ltd 26 High Rd    
James Edward PEARS3 Wollaton Rd     
Joseph PEEL
30 Middle St W30 Middle St W    
Harry PEGG
   122 Wollaton Rd122 Wollaton Rd124 Wollaton Rd
J E POPPLEWELL   62 High Rd62 High Rd62 High Rd
  78 Chilwell Rd   
Jesse RICE 69 Chilwell Rd69 Chilwell Rd   
RIVER PLATE Fresh Meat Co Ltd 47 High Rd    
William A ROBERTS (Mrs Ann Eliza by 1920)
72 Wollaton Rd72 Wollaton Rd72 Wollaton Rd2 Wollaton Rd  
G E Smedley     10 Station Rd
John Arthur SMITH
78 Chilwell Rd78 Chilwell Rd    
Thomas SMITH13 Middle St W     
Owen SUTTON (Mrs Joyce S SUTTON by 1940)39 Chilwell Rd51 Wollaton Rd51 Wollaton Rd87 Wollaton Rd87 Wollaton Rd87 Wollaton Rd
Mrs Dorothy TAILBY  21 High Rd   
John TAYLOR (George TAYLOR by 1913)
63 Wollaton Rd63 Wollaton Rd63 Wollaton Rd   
William THUMS38 High Rd72 High Rd72 High Rd72 High Rd  
Mrs Ada TOMLINSON62 City Rd     
H UNDERWOOD   117 Central Ave101 Central Ave117 Central Ave
Herbert Johnson WARD126 Queens Rd62 High Rd62 High Rd   
William WARD and/or Winfred WARDChilwell Rd90 Chilwell Rd  144 Wollaton Rd144 Wollaton Rd
S E WHARTON   78 Chilwell Rd  
Norman WINFIELD   149 Station Rd149 Station Rd & Rylands149 Station Rd
William WRIGHT 39 Chilwell Rd39 Chilwell Rd39 Chilwell Rd39 Chilwell Rd 
Joseph & George WATSONWilloughby St     
Total Shops272520202215

Sources : Wrights Directory 1905, 1913 and 1920. Locally produced directories of Beeston for about 1932 (the cover and title page are missing) and for 1952. Kelly Directory 1940. Not all individuals in the 1932 and 1952 publications are identified by occupation; there may therefor be others who have not currently been identified.
Pork Butchers are highlighted in green

The period of our survey, covering almost 50 years, saw great changes in the role of the family butcher - and changes have continued up to the present time - although modern shoppers will find the relatively large number of butchers shops at the beginning of our survey in 1905, quite remarkable. Then, we find 27 butchers serving a population of some 9,000 which, it was almost twice the number that served the community in 1952 - despite a perhaps four-fold increase in population and a much wider area of housing. Although that number includes specialist pork butchers and others with specialities of their own, there does seem to have been an over-provision and, as can be seen, some did come and go within a short time. We must, however, remember that the nature of the butcher's trade changed considerably over the almost 50 years we have tracked. At the beginning, most shops would have slaughtering facilities - many older residents can recall animals being driven along Chilwell Road to the High Road shops7 - and they would sell the meat fresh; Alfred Richard Elliott, for instance, still held a licence to slaughter animals as late as 1958, although it is probable that he had discontinued doing so some years earlier. As refrigeration began to be introduced, there was a gradual separation of the two aspects of the butcher's trade and shop slaughterhouses fell out of use. Wartime rationing and shortages also had a big impact. Later - essentially after the period we are considering - the widespread adoption of home refrigeration has changed shopping practices, with the frequent shopping expedition a thing of the past and the traditional butcher now competing with the ease of buying packaged products as part of less frequent supermarket shopping expedition.

1Records differ as to the precise location of his birthplace. It is variously recorded as Alfreton, Somercotes or Sleetmoor; all are close by and all then mining towns on close to the Nottinghamshire border and not far from the Derbyshire Peak District.
2The addresses for John Sutton's shop are based on entries in Wright's Directory 1883 and 1885 and the 1891 and 1901 census respectively.
3Maybe it was rivalry between the brothers;its hard to know whether it was the cause or the effect of Owen's leaving, but by March 1901, his brother Harry appears to be in partnership with his father and Arthur, another brother, also still at home, is described as "Butcher's Manager - in charge".
4Owen Sutton's move to Wollaton Road can be dated between 1905 and 1913 based on his entries in Wright's Directory for these years. Directories were used to track his address in 1920, 1932 and 1952.
5William Wright is listed there in Wrights Directory for 1913, 1920 and 1941
6Schedule of deeds dated 13 Sept 1972, in the Elliott family papers.
7The author's mother retained a vivid memory of, as a small child, standing outside her father's baker's shop at 42 Chilwell Road, watching cattle being driven into Beeston for that purpose. This would be about 1906.