DH Bowyer and Sons Lodge Moor: Sadness as Sheffield butchers closes after 57 years
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Butcher Keith Bowyer has hung up his striped apron for the final time - after over half a century serving sausages and steaks to customers in Lodge Moor, Sheffield.
DH Bowyer and Sons family butchers was the first shop to open its doors 57 years ago on Rochester Road when the parade of buildings was new in 1966 - as England won the World Cup and the Beatles scored their tenth number one.
Keith's dad David was the shop's original owner, and Keith - now aged 68 - was just a boy when they moved from their previous premises in Darnall to buy the shop and live in the maisonette above.
He then left school at 14 to work full time for his dad, and has been trading as a skilled butcher for the 54 years since. Up until last year he worked in his shop six days a week.
Today an emotional Keith told The Star: "I am so, so, upset. Having served the community for so long, I am so, so sad to be leaving them without a butcher's.
"I'm so sad we won't be here anymore to support the other shops that are around us. Inevitably people will have to find their meat somewhere else, and that might mean they also go somewhere else to find their vegetables and to use the post office."
Keith and wife Jackie, also 68, have tried in vain for two years to sell the business as a going concern to another butcher. They will still own the premises, but the space will be let out to new tenants for a different shop use.
Employee of 27 years Mark Crook, and his colleague Christina Wilson, have been made redundant and are looking for new jobs - Mark as a butcher and Christina for local part-time work.
As Keith boned out his last shoulder of lamb, a steady stream of regular customers arrived to bid farewell, including former staff member Christine Sawyer who worked in the shop for 33 years from the early 1980s.
A tearful Christine, 77, who started a chart years ago on one of the shop's tiled walls, measuring the heights of local children, many of whom have now grown up, said: "We were a community - this was our community.
"It has always been such a lovely shop. We used to have masses of people coming, queues out the door. When there were parades by the local primary school we'd be outside waving. We supported the luncheon clubs for the elderly at St Luke's church.
"The ham here is the best - the best in the world! We'd have hundreds of turkeys and geese at Christmas, so many we had local schoolkids to work as runners. We had so much bread the crates went up to the ceiling. I feel so choked up remembering it all now."
Keith is a former president of the Sheffield Butchers' Association just like dad David before him. His father used to prepare the meat and work the butcher's counter whilst his mum Margaret worked from a counter opposite selling bread.
After David died in 1980, Keith took over the shop alongside branches in Broomhill, Fulwood, and Hathersage. The Lodge Moor shop is the last to go, after his brother Paul, now 70, retired and sold the Hathersage business three years ago.
Dad-of-two Keith said people's shopping habits have changed, and he 'saw the end coming' about 10 years ago when he could no longer find apprentices to train up.
"People want their meat leaner these days, but if you take the fat out of the meat you lose a lot of the flavour," he said. "And people tend to buy three or four items at once nowadays - before, people came shopping two or three times a week.
"We've had customers come in today who've left in tears. It is emotional. People have been buying a half block of 60 sausages, meat for Christmas, to portion up and keep in the freezer for after the shop has gone."
He and retired medical laboratory assistant Jackie, who live in Dronfield, are looking forward to more holidays and gardening, more coarse fishing for Keith, and more time to spend with their four grandchildren.