Butcher's shop celebrating 105 years

?A thriving butcher's shop in the Black Country where four generations of the same family have worked is marking 105 years in business.

Butcher's shop celebrating 105 years

?A thriving butcher's shop in the Black Country where four generations of the same family have worked is marking 105 years in business.

Robinson's, which was started in Victoria Street, Wolverhampton, in 1905, should have celebrated its centenary five years ago but owner Steve Robinson was so busy he never got round to it.

But bosses at the shop, which has moved premises several times and survived two wars and several recessions, were determined not to miss the latest celebrations and are marking 30 years at its base in High Street, Tettenhall.

With the help of his 85-year-old father Fred, Steve Robinson, who lives above the shop, has started to compile the family history for posterity. He says: "My grandfather Tom opened the shop in Victoria Street, and started another before very long in Dudley Road.

"In 1914 at the age of 35, and with six children, he volunteered for the Army thinking, like most people, that it would be over by Christmas."

Tom survived two-and-a-half years in France and 18 months in Italy and returned in 1919 to relaunch the butcher's, this time in Wednesfield Road. He fathered six more children, among them Fred and his late brother Alan, who partnered him in the firm for more than 40 years. The business transferred to Snow Hill in 1930 and moved again in 1962, when the town centre was redeveloped, to Bilston Street where it was based for the next 18 years.

Then in 1980, after 75 years of renting premises, the family bought the freehold of Fox's butcher's shop in Tettenhall and extended the property. It is believed there has been a butcher's shop on the site since 1850.

Fred joined the family firm in 1939. He says: "When I started I was mostly shining up the brasses and the windows, and learning the trade from my father who was by then 60. The

Second World War had just started so meat was rationed. But there were things you could get your hands on, like tripe and cow heels and pigs' trotters.

"There was also chawl, which was part of the chin and a bit meatier than the brawn. Also farmers would bring you rabbits."

Fred witnessed many changes in eating trends and shopping habits. "Even after the war, people didn't eat as much meat as they do today," he says. "It was always the ladies that did the shopping in those days because they didn't go out to work. Now it's almost equal. People would expect meat to have fat back then — the markets were called Fat Stock Shows — now meat has to be lean."

Fred and Alan bought most of their meat from an abattoir in Cleveland Road. Today Steve sources much of his stock from local farmers through Bridgnorth Livestock Market, with his lamb coming from Weston Park and Shugborough and his free-range pigs from Packington, near Lichfield.

A fourth generation, Steve's 19-year-old son Tom, a qualified chef, is currently working at the shop since returning from a four-month working holiday in Australia.

In order to survive the pressure placed on independent butchers by supermarkets, Robinson's widened its product range, selling cheeses, cakes, pies, exotic savoury dishes and salamis. Fred said: "You have to move with the times. I only know my father would be very proud to see the business still going strong after more than 100 years."

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